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ROI Spotlight: CT CON Group (Derek Tomes, Kevin Walsh)

It was an absolute pleasure to interview ROI’s Regional Manager Kevin Walsh and newly appointed Division Manager, Derek Tomes, of the Construction division at the Wethersfield, CT office. Kevin emphasized the ‘ROI difference,’ a concept that merges a high degree of personalization with a keen understanding of clients’ and candidates’ unique needs and potentials. We also discussed the diminishing number of skilled tradespeople among the newer generations, a challenge that’s increasingly shaping the workforce landscape.

Congratulations to Derek on this new and exciting next step here at ROI!

1.Tell us about the history of your CT CON office and how it differs from other ROI offices?

Our ROI Connecticut office has undergone significant transformations, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19. Initially, the office faced challenges, mirroring the struggles of our Londonderry, NH office before its remarkable turnaround under the leadership team made up of Derek Tomes, Jamie St.Hilaire, Account Manager and Ellen Taylor, Division Manager.

The Connecticut office grappled with high turnover rates and a need for new direction. This period of uncertainty led to exploring new verticals and a pressing need for a Division Manager in Wethersfield. Around this time, Derek, a promising employee who had recently transitioned from Account Manager to Division Manager in just six months, emerged as a potential leader. Despite his quick transition, Derek’s ambition and eagerness to grow resonated with our ethos at ROI – we believe in nurturing growth, both for our employees and the company as a whole.

Derek’s background in sports equipped him with essential leadership skills. His ability to foster and nurture team relationships proved invaluable. In his six-month tenure, he’s successfully rallied his team, emphasizing the importance of unity and mutual support.

Under Derek’s guidance, the Connecticut office has shown promising signs of gradual growth. A key focus has been diversifying our client base, ensuring a stable environment for candidates transitioning off contracts. This strategy aims to provide a ‘home’ for these candidates, fostering long-term stability and growth.

In summary, the Connecticut office’s journey is a testament to ROI’s commitment to growth and adaptability, embodied in leaders like Derek who turn challenges into opportunities for advancement and innovation.

2.Derek was just promoted to Division Manager, how does he and ROI’s other leadership team members set the tone for ROI? 

ROI’s leadership, exemplified by individuals like Derek, demonstrates a steadfast commitment to success. Derek, particularly, has shown an exceptional ability to identify problems and take decisive action to resolve them. This proactive approach extends to building strong relationships with both clients and candidates, understanding that people gravitate towards businesses they trust and enjoy interacting with.

Our approach involves consistent, strategic planning. Every Friday, we hold a meeting to review our accomplishments and set goals for the upcoming week. This sets the stage for our Monday huddle, where we revisit these plans and kick off the week with focus and determination. Mid-week, on Wednesday, we regroup to assess our progress, tackle any challenges, and strategize on how to conclude the week on a strong note.

Recognizing that personal growth varies among individuals, we especially value traits like Derek’s confidence and drive to excel. While everyone starts with a focus on recruitment, we encourage taking on diverse roles and responsibilities. This is not just about assigning tasks; it’s about recognizing and nurturing potential. ROI is dedicated to providing opportunities for those who show ambition and interest, believing that a job here can be as enriching and far-reaching as one desires.

Derek’s story is a testament to this philosophy. He didn’t just observe the opportunity; he actively pursued it, embodying the kind of initiative and enthusiasm ROI seeks and supports. We are committed to ensuring that those who are eager to advance have the opportunities to do so, fostering a culture where ambition and action are met with recognition and growth prospects.

3.How do you source top talent?

Our recruitment process begins with a preliminary screening, prioritizing candidates referred by our trusted network. We believe in the adage ‘good people know good people’, ensuring we connect with reliable and skilled individuals.

We delve into a candidate’s background through internet research, leading to an initial phone conversation. This conversation is pivotal – we don’t just assess their skills and work ethic through reference checks, but more importantly, we explore their career aspirations. Whether it’s an electrician dreaming of becoming a foreman, or someone aiming for management, we listen and understand their goals.

Our role is to align these aspirations with companies offering such growth opportunities. We don’t just match candidates to jobs; we strive to be partners in navigating their career paths. This partnership is founded on personal connections – we ensure that each candidate has a one-on-one conversation with us, fostering a relationship built on understanding and trust.

We aim to provide a first-class experience. Our candidates are encouraged to share their daily experiences with us, fostering a two-way communication channel. We want them to know who we are, what we stand for, and how we can contribute to their success.

In essence, we are more than recruiters; we are career navigators and confidants. Our ultimate goal is for our candidates to always think of us first when considering their career journey.

4.What is the culture at your office and all of ROI?

Our office culture at ROI is dynamic and growth-oriented, an environment that is both competitive and supportive. We are committed to providing the necessary resources for everyone’s success, emphasizing personal and collective growth within the company. Our approach is proactive and hands-on; we believe in being actively present at construction sites, engaging with clients and candidates over lunch or coffee to build strong, visible relationships.

At ROI, we recognize that staffing often lacks a sense of urgency, but we choose to be different. We strive for a culture of promptness and efficiency, ensuring that our calls and inquiries are completed with precision and timeliness. Our competitive spirit is not just about outperforming our industry peers; it extends to every group within our organization. We encourage a healthy competitive nature, not only against external obstacles but also within our offices, to promote continuous improvement and collective advancement. Our goal is to excel together and make ROI a leader in our field.

5.What is happening in construction hiring that is important for candidates to know?

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The construction industry is currently experiencing a tight labor market, a trend that has persisted for years. This situation partly stems from a historical shift in high school education, where trade skills were often overlooked in favor of more academic pursuits. However, there’s a noticeable change in this trend. More emphasis is now placed on the value of learning trades, making them a respected and financially rewarding career choice. The ability to earn while learning is an attractive aspect of these jobs. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered societal perceptions of workers in various fields, highlighting the essential role of construction workers.

6.What advice do you give to candidates during the hiring process and how do you build trust between yourself and them?

In today’s competitive job market, my advice to candidates centers on three key aspects: preparation, attitude, and learning. Firstly, it’s crucial to demonstrate your eagerness and readiness for the role. Show that you’re informed about the industry and the company, and express a genuine interest in contributing to the team. Secondly, a positive attitude is a significant factor. Employers often seek candidates who are not only skilled but also adaptable and collaborative. Approach each opportunity with optimism and a willingness to integrate into the team.

Furthermore, be open to learning and growing. The ability to learn and adapt is highly valued in any industry. Show that you are willing to put in the effort to acquire new skills and knowledge, which is essential for long-term success.

As for building trust, communication is key. We make it a policy to maintain regular contact with our candidates, whether they are currently employed or between projects. This involves understanding their needs, addressing their concerns, and providing support throughout their career journey. We believe in building relationships through genuine engagement. By actively listening to their challenges and aspirations, we strive to find them the most suitable opportunities. Our goal is for candidates to view us as partners in their career progression, and this is achieved through consistent and sincere communication.

Looking for a new position in the construction sector? Connect with Kevin and Derek today on LinkedIn!


(ROI) is a full-service construction, design, environmental services staffing, and emergency response firm. We provide customized staffing solutions to clients servicing the built and natural environment. Recognized on five different occasions by Inc. Magazine as one of “America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies”, ROI was founded in 1998 by a group of experienced industry professionals. Our proven ability to deliver highly qualified candidates in a timely fashion has earned us the reputation as a true and lasting business partner with both clients and candidates.

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