Cortese Construction Services has felt the staffing pinch since the Covid-19 pandemic, much like thousands of other businesses over the past four years. 

Not only did the general contracting company from Buffalo, N.Y., experience an exodus from its existing workforce, but when it analyzes the people who are available to hire, the talent pool is “virtually nil,” says President Domenic Cortese. 

“The real issue we face is the skill set labor shortage,” he says. “So that’s what prompted the need to go offshore, which was kind of a last resort. But at least we now have a pool of talent that we can source from.” 

By partnering with Joblio, Cortese can begin sourcing talent from a global network of refugees and New Americans who are already skilled in the construction trades. 

Cortese hired one Ukrainian master carpenter who arrived in April, extended an offer to another refugee and is in the process of interviewing additional overseas candidates. 

“There’s now peace of mind that this service exists to help us,” Domenic says. “It was a leap of faith on both of our parts – him for leaving his prior life and starting from scratch here, and us since this is a novel approach.” 

When Domenic and Cortese Vice President Michelle Cortese-Manfredo first interviewed Oleksandr Rekukha via Zoom, they were struck by his character and willingness to make a permanent and long-term commitment away from his home country. He also already spoke English well. 

“For us, that speaks volumes,” Domenic says. “Attitude is everything. We can teach about the intricacies of what we expect and our processes, but the aptitude and the attitude is what sets employees apart.” 


Joblio handled all of Oleksandr’s sponsorship and working papers to come to the U.S. And once he arrived, Joblio also helped him secure a Social Security number, driver’s permit, checking account and place to live. 

“They took care of everything,” Michelle says. “We were told to go about things as if he was an American working for us.” 

While Oleksandr is a foreman in training and still in the early stages of learning the company’s processes, he will eventually run his own jobs. Everybody who has worked with him has raved about his work ethic, commitment, willingness and excitement to be a part of Cortese. 

“What we’ve seen so far with him is that he’s a novice to the American way of building, but he absorbs everything immediately,” Domenic says. “Everything we’ve taught him we haven’t had to revisit; he catches it on the first try.” 

Cortese was founded from scratch by Domenic’s father and uncle, who arrived from Italy in 1951 with nothing but an aspiration of living the American Dream. 

With job placement methods built on retention that is low risk to employers – Joblio only gets paid when an employee succeeds and stays – Domenic says he is very much embracing the opportunity to go back to the grassroots of how Cortese was built. 

“If we finally found the solution to the recruiting puzzle, then absolutely we would continue to use Joblio,” Domenic says. “There is no commitment other than to find the right person, so it’s worth the effort. There’s a lot of value in the way this model is set up.”

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