Cedar Fair Entertainment names Matthew Ouimet president

Posted Monday, June 20, 2011 11:57 AM | Contributed by jimvid

[Ed. note: The following is an excerpt of a press release. -J]

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN) today announced that Matthew A. Ouimet has been named president of the Company, effective immediately. Ouimet, 53, will succeed Dick Kinzel, 70, as chief executive officer, who will retire upon the expiration of his contract on January 3, 2012. Today’s action is in line with Cedar Fair’s previously announced CEO succession planning process.

Ouimet is a 20 year veteran of the amusement park and hospitality industry, of which 17 years were spent with the Walt Disney Company (“Disney”). During his tenure with the global entertainment conglomerate, he had the opportunity to work in a wide range of business lines with increasing levels of responsibility. Highlights of his tenure at Disney include serving as:

  • Senior vice president, finance and business development, and chief financial officer of the Disney Development Company, in which he was responsible for the financial management of Disney’s resort, theme park and corporate real estate projects in California, Florida and France;
  • Executive general manager of Disney Vacation Club, where, through expanded marketing and sales initiatives, Disney established itself as a major competitor in the timeshare industry; President of Disney Cruise Line, where his team built the most successful family cruise product in the industry;
  • President of the Disneyland Resort, where he and his team developed and implemented a comprehensive strategic plan that resulted in significantly improved and sustained performance for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary and beyond.

In 2006, Ouimet was recruited to serve as the President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, overseeing 900 owned, managed and franchised hotel properties in 95 countries. In this capacity, in support of brand-driven pricing premiums, he drove an operational focus on delivering a guest experience consistent with the characteristics of each of Starwood’s hotel brands, including St Regis, Westin, Sheraton, W Hotels and five other brands. In 2008, Ouimet joined Corinthian Colleges, a $2 billion, publicly-held, post-secondary education company which operates in the U.S. and Canada. As President and Chief Operating Officer, Ouimet championed executive talent development and the expansion of management and systems infrastructure to support rapid growth in the student population and expanded regulatory complexity.

“Without question, Matt is the right leader to join Cedar Fair now as it builds momentum on its renewed path of sustained, profitable growth in 2011 and beyond,” said C. Thomas (“Tom”) Harvie, independent chairman. “Throughout his career, Matt has proven to be a critical thinker and effective business strategist with an enviable track record for identifying growth opportunities within existing businesses in the amusement park and resort industry. His broad and diverse background in resort development, finance, marketing and operations will allow him to integrate quickly into Cedar Fair.

“While our thorough search process with the assistance of the executive search firm Korn/Ferry International enabled us to meet with and consider many extremely qualified candidates, the Board agreed that Matt stood out from the rest due to his strategic business mindset and his natural and engaging leadership style,” said Harvie.

“Matt is an impressive business and operational executive whose character and values will be a great complement to the strong Cedar Fair culture,” said Dick Kinzel, chief executive officer. “I look forward to working with him over the coming months to ensure a seamless leadership transition.”

Ouimet currently serves on the Board of Collective Brands, Inc., a $3.4 billion global enterprise encompassing the internationally recognized footwear brands of Payless, Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite and Saucony, where he serves as a financial expert on the audit and finance committee. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in accounting from State University of New York at Binghamton.

“I am thrilled to join this successful Cedar Fair leadership team. I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with Dick Kinzel and to continue to build on his legacy in years to come,” said Matt Ouimet. “Cedar Fair is a wonderful company – its properties are vibrant and extremely well-run, its reputation is superb, and the record-setting 2010 performance has put us on a path to deliver the positive financial results Cedar Fair has long been known for. I am truly honored to have this opportunity and sincerely thank the Board for entrusting me with this critical leadership role at this pivotal point in Cedar Fair’s evolution.”

“On behalf of the Board, the management team and all of our colleagues past and present, I would like to thank Dick Kinzel for his unparalleled vision, passion and selfless dedication to Cedar Fair over the years,” said Harvie. “Without Dick, Cedar Fair would not have the opportunities or the growth potential it has today. He has been the heart and soul of this organization for many, many years and, while he can be succeeded, he can never be replaced. We wish Dick and his wonderful family all the very best as he moves into his well-deserved retirement at the end of the year.”

Kinzel began his career in the amusement park industry at Cedar Point in 1972. In 1986, he was named president and chief executive officer of Cedar Fair, L.P., the parent company of the parks, which was listed on The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: FUN) in 1987. Kinzel also served as chairman of the Board from 2003 to 2010.

Read the entire press release from Cedar Fair.

Monday, June 20, 2011 12:01 PM
The Mole's avatar

Matt Ouimet turned around the disastrous decisions of Pressler/Harris at Disneyland and created a great 50th Anniversary for DLR in under a year. This is a huge "get" for Cedar Fair and means good things for the company.

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Monday, June 20, 2011 12:04 PM
Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar

Better than Jack Falfas?

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Monday, June 20, 2011 12:09 PM

Wow. This is a big deal.

I don't know if I know enough about Jack to say for sure that Matt is a better choice, but Matt is an outstanding get. He got great results, and as The Mole points out did a huge turnaround job at DLR. He's also a hands-on guy but in a good way. He was referred to as "Cast Member Matt" by the rank-and-file at DLR---and not many executives from TDA are truly considered "Cast Members" by the Cast.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Monday, June 20, 2011 12:10 PM
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Monday, June 20, 2011 12:13 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

@Pagoda, Potentially, yes. This guy obviously knows what he is doing and seems to be a numbers guy AND a manager guy. He turned Sisneyland around, so he has potential.

And besides, Falfas is gone. For all we know, be could have ended up putting to use too much of what he learned from Big Daddy.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Monday, June 20, 2011 12:14 PM

cebeavers.tumblr.com

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Monday, June 20, 2011 12:21 PM
Jeff's avatar

Disney nerds loved this guy. If he can restore respect and some degree of autonomy for the general managers (and fire one of them), this could be an enormous win. The sheer diversity of his experience I think makes him well suited for the job. Can't wait to see what happens.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Monday, June 20, 2011 12:27 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Diversity is key. He has theme park, resort, hotel experience? Score.


cebeavers.tumblr.com

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Monday, June 20, 2011 2:36 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Tekwardo said:
Diversity is key. He has theme park, resort, hotel experience? Score.

Isn't it Gator who always says the theme park industry is the hospitality industry?


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Monday, June 20, 2011 2:45 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

I actually was going to put hospitality in there, but Gator is 100% correct, so I didn't want to be redundant. I seriously typed it out and then deleted it. So, yeah.


cebeavers.tumblr.com

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Monday, June 20, 2011 3:12 PM
janfrederick's avatar

New dark ride for Knott's?? ;)


"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
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Monday, June 20, 2011 4:00 PM

At the risk of sounding redundant- seeing how he turned Disneyland from run-down back to world class, this Ohio Disney-nerd is nothing but happy for Cedar Fair.


Hello, Hello! (hola!) I rode a ride named Vertigo!-with apologies to U2

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Monday, June 20, 2011 5:39 PM

Good riddance DK

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Monday, June 20, 2011 6:43 PM

I will be very interested to see what kinds of things change towards the end of the season and throughout the coming off-season. And yes, someone in a GM position down south might want to be prepping the resume...

This guy knows how to properly empower the front-line employees to take care of issues, and I would not be too surprised to see some form of the Disney "No Strings Attached" cards make their way into the parks before long.


Original BlueStreak64

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Monday, June 20, 2011 7:12 PM

Where is the "Kinzel is going out with a bang" rumor?

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Monday, June 20, 2011 7:35 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

I think this could be that bang...


cebeavers.tumblr.com

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Monday, June 20, 2011 7:37 PM
rollergator's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
Isn't it Gator who always says the theme park industry is the hospitality industry?

Yeah, but that guy is a jerk...nobody listens to him any more. :)

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Monday, June 20, 2011 7:58 PM
jkpark's avatar

I'm totally digging this! Can't wait to see what the future holds now. For years I wished that CF would recruit Disney talent, and hope maybe they can pick up a few more from the Mouse!

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Monday, June 20, 2011 8:51 PM

Verrry interesting. I always thought the Corinthian Colleges career move was very odd for him. At the time he left Disney for Starwood, the talk was that his family didn't take well to Southern California. I wonder if they'll be moving to Sandusky? That could be as much of a culture shock as SoCal. At Disney he was widely hailed as an engaged, operations focused manager who cut out all the corporate bull that the Team Disney building had been focusing on and instead embraced the fact that people came to Disney parks to ride rides and engage the characters. He was in charge of radically revising the plans for the 50th anniversary at the literal last moment (the original, poorly laid plans had been made by his predecessor) and recognized that the resort needed a near total refurb to get it ready, and spent the money to do it in an amazingly short time. The 50th was a huge success and blew all the gates off the expectations of what the California property was capable of, which helped pave the way to the huge budget they approved for the overhaul of DCA. Should be interesting times for CF.


"I've been born again my whole life." -SAVED
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 1:44 AM
The Mole's avatar

Talking to some of my friends in 'the industry' and we all agree that if everything goes to plan and he gets the control he deserves, this could be a huge coup for CF.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 10:13 AM
LostKause's avatar

I'm not familiar with Ouimet, but you guys are getting me very excited. I hope he has a vision for turning the Cedar Fair parks into one big party, especially at night, by adding more flashy lights, music, and atmosphere.

Can anyone tell me how one pronounces his name?


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