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Mark Suss and Mike Kappel

‘AND ANOTHER THING, KAPPEL . . .’ : Top Echelon Network Charter Member Mark Suss, right, chats with Top Echelon Network founder Mike Kappel during a Network conference.  Suss retired from the recruiting industry earlier this year after 30 years in the industry.

After 30 years, including 25 years as a Preferred Member recruiter in Top Echelon Network, Mark Suss has retired from the recruiting industry

Suss celebrated his 30th year in the business in July.  Since then, he’s officially exited the recruiting profession.  However, he leaves behind a long and storied career as a recruiter, much of it in the Retail Industry but also covering Advertising, Technology, Banking and Hospitality    not to mention a successful tenure as a Network Member and as president of the Maryland Recruiters Association for 10 years.  (He was initially supposed to be president for a term of two years.)

As with most recruiters, Suss entered the profession after transitioning from another career.  In his case, Suss worked for Bloomingdale’s Department Stores for 15 years before becoming an Executive Recruiter.  According to Suss, while Bloomingdale’s enjoyed healthy growth every year that he worked there, the stress level associated with achieving that growth was nearly as high.

“I saw a boss of mine flip his lid on the selling floor,” said Suss. “I had a sales person literally die in my arms of a heart attack.  After my mother passed away in July of 1982, I sort of went through what most people go through.  After a 15-year career at Bloomingdale’s, I started asking myself if this was really what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”

As a result, Suss started looking for a business to buy, and he came across Retail Recruiters International, a franchise located in Providence, Rhode Island.  With no real ties to the New Jersey area after his mother passed away (his father died at an early age), Suss decided to relocate to the Maryland side of the Washington, D.C. metro area.

“There was no reason to stay in New Jersey, so I thought why not be adventurous?” Suss started his recruiting business in July of 1983.  Approximately five years later, he received a marketing letter in the mail from a man by the name of Mike Kappel.

“The letter was about building a split network and doing splits with other retail recruiters around the country,” said Suss.  “I sort of understood the concept because I was already splitting business with other members of the Retail Recruiters national network, but I was definitely skeptical.”

However, a follow-up phone call from Kappel eventually sold him on the idea.

“One day, Mike called, and we hit it off,” said Suss.  “I asked him how many retail recruiters he had in the system, and he said he had one potential, me, but that he was going to get more.  Here it is, 2013, and I’m still waiting for him to get more.  He did pick up a few along the way, but I was sort of like a lone ranger in the Network.  But at the time, I was like, ‘What the heck? What do I have to lose?’”

And just like that, Mark Suss became a Charter Member of what was at the time called Nationwide Interchange Service.  (NIS changed its name to Top Echelon Network in 1998.)

Because of the scarcity of retail recruiters in Top Echelon, Suss didn’t make many split placements himself in the Network.  However, his daughter Ilissa eventually joined him in the business, started a Technology Recruiting division, and made quite a few splits with other Network recruiters, both direct hire placements and contract placements. As a matter of fact, her first six placements in Top Echelon were all splits with other recruiters and gave the Suss’s the capital needed to build that particular division.

By 2008, Contract Placement Associates was generating 50% of the total volume of the company and generating about $700,000 in business.  Mark laughed while telling the story of how they had placed three contractors with a local Maryland company and generated about $30,000 each during a four-month contract.

However, 2009 brought the Great Recession and things quickly began to unravel.  Ilissa was getting married, needed more income, and by 2010 had exited the business to take a position with Deloitte Consulting in their Federal Practice.  Her father tried everything he could think of to turn the business around, but unfortunately, nothing seemed to work.

According to Suss, he lost his passion for recruiting during these last few years.  That loss of passion, as well as his desire to spend more time with family, including his grandchildren, contributed to his decision to leave recruiting.  However, he valued his time in Top Echelon Network, especially the relationships that he was able to create with other recruiters.

“I made some great friends in TE,” he said.  “Of my 30 years in business there were about 25 really good years and some spectacular years in there.  Thirty years is a long time for anybody to be in business.  To me, it’s always been about the relationships—whether it was client-to-candidate, client-to-recruiter, or recruiter-to-recruiter.”

One of the recruiter-to-recruiter relationships that Suss treasures the most was the one he forged with Jeff Skrentny, CERS of Jefferson Group Consulting.

“I met Jeff at a [Top Echelon] meeting, and we wound up becoming personal friends,” said Suss.  “As the president of the Maryland  Recruiters Association , I invited Jeff to speak to our group.  Jeff’s a great guy, a bit on the crazy side, but nevertheless a great guy and I learned a tremendous amount from him.  He changed the way people train in the recruiting industry.  He brought a different flavor to the same old recruiting methodology.”

Suss also singled out a fellow Preferred Member and the relationship he built with that recruiter.
“I went to a few National Conventions and lots of Chicago meetings, and one of the best guys I’ve met in the business is Joe Noto [of Regency Search Group],” said Suss.  “He wanted to know if I could do him a favor and talk to his daughter Lori about changing jobs in the Retail industry, where she began her career. The next thing I knew, Joe and I became good friends, and he’s one of those people who, when I speak about him, a smile comes to my face.

“Top Echelon and the Recruiting industry in general allowed me to make some really great relationships. I really miss many of the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. It’s a tough thing to walk away from an industry where I’ve spent the better part of my adult years and accomplished so much, not to mention having made such a great living. I’ve always wondered how a person knows when it’s time to move on, time to go.  I recently came to this decision and guess what?  It’s easier than I thought.  You just know!  I woke up one day and said to my wife ‘I’m done.’

“The funny thing is, though, I’m not the retiring type.  I still feel young, vibrant, want to be challenged, and frankly need a place to go every day. Working out of my home the last few years wasn’t for me.  I need people to tell my crazy stories and jokes to.  I have been extremely fortunate that even as an old guy, I found someone that respects my years in business and needs my help.

“So, even though I am on the backside of that big hill, I have a brand-new career in a new and challenging industry for me, and one that fortunately is not tied to the ups and downs of the economy.  I am the Director of Human Resources and Marketing for a very large Medical practice right here in Maryland.  I will do this job for as long as I can because I don’t want to be drooling in my coffee in the mo
rning.  So as long as I am still looking down at the ground and not up, I’m going to continue to work.”

“I wish you all good health, safe travels, and continued success.  It has been my pleasure and honor to be part of Top Echelon Network.”

Mark Suss and Debbie Fledderjohann

HAPPY TOP ECHELON ENDING: Mark Suss poses with Top Echelon Contracting President Debbie Fledderjohann during a Network conference.  Suss’s firm made quite a few contract placements during his time as a Preferred Member recruiter in the Network.


Drea CodispotiWe have BOTH Virtual Core Groups and Regional Core Groups in this week’s issue of The Pinnacle Newsletter Blog!

Speaking of the former, the Central Ohio Regional Core Group has been one of the most successful Regional Core Groups in the 25-year history of Top Echelon Network.  (They have the split placements to back it up, that’s for sure.)

This is a group that gets together and meets face-to-face each and every year, without fail, and the recruiters that comprise this group are doing it again!  That’s right, the Central Ohio Regional Core Group has scheduled its next meeting.

The specifics of that meeting are listed below:

Regional Core GroupsDate: Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST)

Location: Catering by Design

Address: 6465 Busch Blvd., Columbus, OH 43229

Phone number: 614.436.1234

Speaker: TBD (an announcement will be made once the agenda is released)

Cost: $25 per person, payable at the door OR we can add it to your Top Echelon invoice

During Regional Core Group meetings, Top Echelon recruiters have the opportunity to network with each other on a face-to-face basis (the best type of networking!), as well as trade hot job orders and candidates and share strategies for increasing productivity.

If you’d like to attend the upcoming meeting of the Central Ohio Regional Core Group, please RSVP to me by sending an email to  I also encourage you to contact me at 330.455.1433, x156 if you’d like to join an another existing Regional Core Group or if you’re thinking about starting a new one.

We want you to network, we want you to form relationships, we want you to make new friends, and we want you to make more placements!

Drea CodispotiThis month, we pushed the Virtual Core Group (VCG) teleconference call schedule back a week because of the Top Echelon Network Fall Conference.

With no such concerns next month, the Virtual Core Group schedule is back to “normal” for November.

But really . . . can anything that I’m associated with be called “normal”?  I think not.  (But thank you for that vote of confidence.)

There IS a holiday that falls on a Thursday next month.  However, Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday of the month, and there are currently NO Virtual Core Group calls scheduled for that day.

In fact, there are only calls slated for the first two weeks of the month.  That means, of course, that the third week is open for those recruiters who would like to start a new group.  We are always open to starting new Virtual Core Groups, so keep that in mind.

In the meantime, below is the VCG teleconference call schedule for the month of November (all times listed are Eastern Standard Time):


Date Core Group/Time Core Group/Time Core Group/Time
Thursday, November 7
Manufacturing, Engineering
noon to 1 p.m.
Accounting, Finance
1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
 Biotech, Pharma, Medical Device
3 to 4 p.m.
Thursday, November 14
Human Resources
noon to 1 p.m.
Software Sales
1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Information Technology
3 to 4 p.m.
Thursday, November 21
Open for New Group Open for New Group Open for New Group
Thursday, November 28
Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving!

Top Echelon Network recruiters share important information during Virtual Core Group teleconference calls.  This information includes hot job orders, hot candidates, and the activity they’re seeing in the marketplace and within their niche.

It’s been proven time again that when Network recruiters share this kind of information and they share it on a consistent basis, they make more split placements together.  And that’s why it’s my goal to fill the entire Virtual Core Group schedule every single month!

To join an existing Virtual Core Group or to start a new one, contact me at 330.455.1433, x156 or via email at


The third quarter of the year just ended (well, it ended on September 30), and as we’re apt to do at Top Echelon Network, we compared the split placements made in the Network through the first three quarters of 2013 to the those made during the first three quarters of 2012.

That comparison showed us that Network split placements are up 16% year-to-date (YTD) over this time a year ago.

The only thing better than growth is double-digit growth, and it appears as though that’s exactly what the Network experienced as far as split placements are concerned.  That’s because it’s almost the end of October, and Network recruiters are still making splits at a rather healthy clip, as you can see below.

Here’s to more growth (and more split placements) throughout the rest of this year and into 2014!


Below are the split jobs that were recently filled by Top Echelon Network recruiters:

  • Split PlacementsQuality Engineer
  • Director of National Accounts
  • Territory Manager
  • Materials Manager
  • Interface Engineer
  • Audit Senior
  • Associate Director of Medical Communications
  • Plant Manager
  • OSP Engineer
  • Environmental & Safety Specialist

For more information about how YOU can be more successful in Top Echelon Network and make more split placements, call Membership Development Coordinator Drea Codispoti, CERS at (330) 455-1433, Ext. 156.


Ron Sunshine of Ron Sunshine Associates, LLC

Ron Sunshine

Network Recruiter George MancusoJob recruiter: Ron Sunshine of Ron Sunshine Associates

Candidate recruiter: George Mancuso of Client Growth Consultants, Inc.

Split job title: QUALITY ENGINEER

Fee percentage: 25%

Action causing split placement: The job seeker or client was found through my Hiring Hook recruitment website.

— — —

Kerry Boehner of KOB Solutions, Inc.

Kerry Boehner

Top Echelon Network recruiter Diane RothongJob recruiter:
Kerry Boehner of KOB Solutions, Inc.

Candidate recruiter: Diane Rothong of Worksource 2000, Inc.


Fee percentage: 20%

Action causing split placement: Regular communication with another Top Echelon Network recruiter

— — —

Network Recruiter Tim Honn

Catherine Bateman of Woods and Paolino Recruiting Solutions

Catherine Bateman

Job recruiter: Tim Honn of Fortis Recruiting Solutions, Inc.

Candidate recruiter: Catherine Bateman of Woods & Paolino Recruiting Solutions

Split job title: TERRITORY MANAGER

Fee percentage: 25%

Action causing split placement: The job or candidate was found by searching Top Echelon Network’s split databases.

— — —

Gary EliasNetwork Recruiter Lloyd ShoemakerJob recruiter: Lloyd Shoemaker of TriVista Professional Placement Services

Candidate recruiter: Gary Elias of Elias Associates, Inc.
Split job title: MATERIALS MANAGER

Fee percentage: 25%

Action causing split placement: Regular communication with another Top Echelon Network recruiter

— — —

Network Recruiter Gary SilverTop Echelon Network recruiter Donna CarrollJob recruiter: Donna Carroll of Systems Personnel

Candidate recruiter: Gary Silver of The Shay Group


Fee percentage: 15%

Action causing split placement: Regular communication with another Top Echelon Network recruiter

— — —

Network Recruiter Steve KohnSteve BrodyJob recruiter: Steve Brody of Executive Resource Systems

Candidate recruiter: Steve Kohn of Affinity Executive Search

Split job title: AUDIT SENIOR

Fee percentage: 20%

Action causing split placement: The job seeker or client was found through my Hiring Hook recruitment website.

— — —

Stephanie McGintyTop Echelon Network recruiter Mary Anne BuckleyJob recruiter: Mary Anne Buckley of Interstate Recruiters Group

Candidate recruiter: Stephanie McGinty of Ives & Associates, Inc.


Fee percentage: 25%

Action causing split placement: Regular communication with another Top Echelon Network recruiter

— — —

Network Recruiter Bill LaughlinTop Echelon Network recruiter Barton FosterJob recruiter: Barton Foster of the Barton Group

Candidate recruiter: Bill Laughlin of Systematic Business Consulting

Split job title: PLANT MANAGER

Fee percentage: 25%

Action causing split placement: “Bill say my job order on TE.”

— — —

Justin BidwellJuli SmithJob recruiter: Juli Smith of The Smith Consulting Group, LLC

Candidate recruiter: Justin Bidwell of Bidwell & Associates, LLC

Split job title: OSP ENGINEER

Fee percentage: 25%

Action causing split placement: Regular communication with another Top Echelon Network recruiter

— — —

Network Recruiter Trey Cameron

John Peterson of Sun Recruiting, Inc.

John Peterson

Job recruiter: John Peterson of Sun Recruiting, Inc.

Candidate recruiter: Trey Cameron of the Cameron Craig Group


Fee percentage: 25%

Action causing split placement: The job seeker or client was found through my Hiring Hook recruitment website.


Trey Cameron of the Cameron Craig Group won the Recruiter of the Quarter award in Top Echelon Network for the first two quarters of 2013.  Did he win it again for the third quarter?  You probably already know the answer to that question.

recruiter awardsRight now, Cameron is in a prime position to sweep the award for all of 2013.  All he needs is to win it during the fourth quarter.  That’s not a slam-dunk, but any stretch of the imagination, not with all of the other talented recruiters in the recruiting Network, but nobody’s been able to stop him so far.

It also looks like nobody will stop Cameron in his quest to win the Recruiter of the Year award for the third straight year.  He’s currently in the number-one spot in the placement recruiting Network, and he holds a lead of well over $100,000.  Now THAT might be a slam-dunk.


At Top Echelon Network, we recognize recruiters for both monthly and quarterly performance in four categories—Recruiter of the Month, Recruiter of the Quarter, Largest Split Fee of the Month, and

For more information about the recruiter awards listed below, login to the Members’ Area and view the profiles and placement details of the Network recruiters who won them.

— — —

Top Echelon Network recruiter Trey CameronRECRUITER OF THE QUARTER:

Trey Cameron of the Cameron Craig Group

Cameron made seven Network split placements during the second quarter (which, incidentally, earned him the Recruiter of the Quarter award for THAT quarter, too).  However, he more than doubled that production during the third quarter with 19 split placements.

Steve Kohn of Affinity Executive Search was next with 12 splits, while Sean Napoles, CPC of Career Brokers, Inc. was third with nine split placements.

 — — —


Top Echelon Network determines the monthly and quarterly recruiter award winners based upon two things, which are listed below in order of importance:

1.) The number of split placements made
2.) The amount of cash-in dollars earned as a result of those split placements

This explains why, when multiple recruiters are tied with the same number of split placements during a given month or quarter, the recruiter with the largest ‘cash-in’ total for their placements is deemed the winner.

Looking for fall decor ideas?  Pinterest is your site.  Planning a wedding? Pin away.  Looking for job candidates?  See you later, Pinterest.

While extremely popular, Pinterest is often looked at as just a fun, mindless way to pass time.  Sure, it’s a great marketing platform for dress shops and craft stores, but most service-based businesses struggle to see Pinterest as a viable marketing channel.

But don’t immediately discount it.  Pinterest CAN and HAS worked for both direct hire and contract staffing recruiters, and it may work for you, as well.
Pinterest for recruiters
Below are three ideas to get you started:

#1—Treat it as a sourcing tool.

You can find a wealth of information on Pinterest that can’t be found on other social networks with just a few simple search terms. recommends searching Pinterest for terms such as “resume,” “cv,” and “portfolio.”  This is especially useful if you are filling creative positions, such as graphic artists and web designers, who often share their work via Pinterest.  And as Sharlyn Lauby points out in a blog recently posted on, Pinterest allows you to see what potential candidates are interested in based on what they are pinning.  Plus, you can see who else shares their interests, further expanding your talent pipeline.

#2—Brand, don’t sell.

Niche recruiting firm PediaStaff may be the biggest recruiting success story on Pinterest.  With over 63,000 followers and 22,339 pins, PediaStaff’s Pinterest account has become a go-to destination for pediatric therapists, particularly in school settings.  As a result, it is the biggest source of traffic to PediaStaff’s website, according to Heidi Kay, the firm’s partner and resident social media expert.  But if you look at the firm’s pin boards, you will find very few pins about specific jobs or about PediaStaff as a firm.  Instead, PediaStaff has established itself as a resource for therapists who are searching for classroom ideas to keep kids engaged and learning.  About 60% of PediaStaff’s pins are from web searches Kay runs to find new material.  The other 40% comes from repinning content she finds on Pinterest.

“On Pinterest, and in all social media, it is important that you make most of your message about your followers and not about you,” Kay said.  “Once you develop a loyal following, you can get good marketing opportunities to discuss your job openings, placements, etc.  It’s important to strike a balance so your followers don’t feel like you are advertising yourself too heavily, but on the other hand, it does need to be your ultimate mission to make them think of YOU for jobs in their field.  You don’t want to be the guy who ran the Super Bowl ad that was hilarious, but nobody could remember what they were selling.”

#3—Consider your audience.

If the candidates you are seeking aren’t on Pinterest, it doesn’t matter how good your content is.  Pinterest users in the United States are still 83% female, according to  So if you’re courting a predominately male workforce, Pinterest may not be for you.  Twenty-five percent of Pinterest users have a bachelor’s or graduate degree, so it may not be the best medium for executive roles.  But it is a good place to source candidates for positions in Education, Sales, Healthcare Support, and Management.

“Pinterest works when there is regular content to be found on the Internet that would interest a candidate or hiring authority,” Kay said.  “Candidates who work for companies that sell mass market consumable goods, specific lifestyles, or services would be a good fit.  Teachers, Marketing, and Sales Reps and Healthcare professionals love Pinterest.  Manufacturing Engineers?  Probably not so much.”

So Pinterest may not be for everyone.  But don’t assume it’s not for you.  Look at your candidate pool.  Consider what they are interested in and what tools they need to do their job.  Can you help provide those tools?  If you can establish yourself as a resource for candidates, guess who they will think of next time they’re looking for a job?


Everybody is looking for the right candidates.  Not just companies, either . . . recruiters are having a hard time finding these candidates, too.

split placementsHowever, Top Echelon Network recruiters are finding the right candidates through their Trading Partners!  As evidenced by the comments below, sometimes the fit isn’t an “automatic” one, but because of the talent and the experience of the recruiters involved, it becomes a great fit.

Companies want to find the best possible candidates for their open positions, and so do the recruiters who work for them.  More and more, Network recruiters are discovering that their Trading Partners have those candidates.

So, if you have the right candidate, then it’s a split placement for you!

— — —

Top Echelon Network recruiter Nick Stoia“Great effort on the part of Joe Miglizzi in identifying a match for this challenging position to fill!  The candidate did not look like an automatic fit, but Joe had the understanding of the candidate and role to see [the] potential of a match due to what looked like transferrable skills.  He was right!”

Submitted by Nick Stoia, CPC of ASAP Search and Recruiters regarding his Network split placement with Joe Miglizzi of Perspective


Fee Percentage—30%

(Editor’s note: This is the third Network split placement that Stoia and Miglizzi have made together in Top Echelon.)

— — —

Top Echelon Network recruiter John Barry“John is great to work with!  He knows his candidates very well, is one of the best qualifiers in the Network, and is just a pleasure to work with!”

Submitted by Chris Shoulet of Top Dog Recruiting regarding his Network split placement with John Barry iTech Consulting Partners, LLC


Fee Percentage—20%

(Editor’s note: This is the first Network split placement that Shoulet and Barry have made together in Top Echelon.)