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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 11:00 AM

LostKause said:
Can anyone tell me how one pronounces his name?

we-MET

Last edited by djDaemon, Tuesday, June 21, 2011 11:00 AM

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 11:25 AM
Jerry's avatar

Ouimet - WEE MET. Also I wonder if he's any relationship to Francis Ouimet - an incredible amateur golfer from the early part of the century.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 12:43 PM
Jason Hammond's avatar

We met

<edit>

I guess if I was paying attention, I would have realized there was a second page with 2 other responses already. :-)

Last edited by Jason Hammond, Tuesday, June 21, 2011 12:44 PM

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 12:43 PM
LostKause's avatar

So his name is French. Should have realized from the spelling. Thanks.

"Yes, we met Ouimet to play the new Wii U." (lol at myself all the time).

Last edited by LostKause, Tuesday, June 21, 2011 12:45 PM
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 1:27 PM
The Mole's avatar

Here's a write up from MiceAge.com on Matt, him moving, and his tenure at DLR....

"Ouimet's tenure at Disneyland is still fondly remembered by hourly and salaried CM's alike, years after he left. Part of his legacy was just being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time; taking over Disneyland from two previous presidents who clearly didn't get it and who nearly ran the place into the ground, as well as getting the financial backing from Burbank to fix most of their mistakes just in time to bring the sparkle back to Disneyland and celebrate the 50th Anniversary in grand style. It was a Disney-style fairytale you couldn't have made up if you had tried, but it happened.

Ouimet also excelled on his own personal strengths and his crystal-clear leadership style. He is remembered as someone who dared to speak regular english instead of corporate gobblydeygook, which is a rare and appreciated quality to his employee audience below the ranks of upper-middle management. Matt wasn't a typical California theme park guy who started out with a summer job as a Tomorrowland Terrace busboy or a Jungle Cruise Skipper. Instead, he was really an outsider when you read his resume'; an East Coaster who had no theme park experience and who had spent the last few years running Disney's cruise ship business out of Port Canaveral.

But Matt took to Disneyland immediately, and likewise the Disneylanders took to him just as quickly. Matt realized and acted upon his belief that the success of Disneyland laid not with backstage TDA "initiatives" that never impacted the paying customers or front-line Cast Members, but with the basics of a clean park in tip-top shape offering a courteous performance for every park guest. He remained focused on those common sense basics throughout his stay in Anaheim, while simultaneously beginning to plan for the biggest and most expensive expansion the resort had ever seen."

link: http://miceage.micechat.com/allutz/al062111a.htm

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 3:05 PM

^But can he send home over-staffed ride ops and temperature test hot dogs?? ;)

Last edited by tigellinus, Tuesday, June 21, 2011 3:06 PM
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 3:12 PM

ThemeDesigner said:
I wonder if they'll be moving to Sandusky? That could be as much of a culture shock as SoCal.

According to the article in today's Sandusky Register, he said he would be moving to Sandusky.

He also was sure to say that Cedar Fair's headquarters would remain in Sandusky, and Cedar Point would remain the "Crown Jewel" of the company.

Oh yeah, he also started work yesterday.

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/weather-alert/2011/jun/20/former-disney-exec-named-president-cedar-fair

Last edited by tambo, Tuesday, June 21, 2011 3:12 PM
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 3:30 PM
RPM's avatar

He must be good, he has executive style hair:

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1992-08-27/
http://pointbuzz.com/default.aspx

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 4:27 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

One good thing about him, he saw the need to clean up Disneyland (literally), and I have to say that the CF parks are already clean and neat and seem to spend money on maintenance and paint, so at the very least, that is something he won't have to focus on and can focus on changing the company's inner workings, food quality (PLEASE), and stance on Intamin rides.


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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 7:09 PM
The Mole's avatar

Tekwardo said:
One good thing about him, he saw the need to clean up Disneyland (literally), and I have to say that the CF parks are already clean and neat and seem to spend money on maintenance and paint, so at the very least, that is something he won't have to focus on and can focus on changing the company's inner workings, food quality (PLEASE), and stance on Intamin rides.

Err what? Even Disneyland at it's "worst" is nowhere near CF parks at "good". He has a lot of work but I think he can do it.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 7:17 PM
Rick_UK's avatar

I wonder how much the role will change as he enters it. It's clear that DK has created his version of the role encompassing almost anything and everything, I wonder exactly what and how much of it will be dispersed to other board members and other employees.


Nothing to see here. Move along.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 7:24 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Seriously? You think CF parks are dirty and unmaintained? I guess my standards are just low or whatever but I've never been to a dirty CF park.


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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 9:17 PM

Wow. This seems like a serious score for CF. I think I might actually buy some stock now. Seems like it would be a good time. What's that CF symbol again?


Fever I really enjoy the Simpsons. It's just a shame that I am starting to LOOK like Homer.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 9:23 PM
Jason Hammond's avatar

FUN


854 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 10:48 PM

Tekwardo said:
Seriously? You think CF parks are dirty and unmaintained? I guess my standards are just low or whatever but I've never been to a dirty CF park.

I wouldn't say the parks are "dirty," but Mole is right. Disney parks generally make the most pristine CF park look like a group of unruly teens were let loose with no one to pick up. Then there's something to be said for touching up paint details nightly, pressure washing the entire park every night, etc. I've seen both CP and Magic Kingdom/EPCOT far after the last guests have left for the night in the middle of the nighttime work as well as what they look like before guests enter in the morning. Night and day difference. Even as soon as about 1 hour after the official closing time, the Disney parks are already looking like CP does right before opening in the morning. It really is amazing what they do.

Like I said, I wouldn't say the CF parks are generally "dirty," and there is certainly a lot to be said for the kind of operational and maintenance budget that Disney keeps vs. what Cedar Fair can do, but there are a lot of areas where CF could improve and be a bit more like Disney in that regard.


Original BlueStreak64

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011 4:24 PM

Thanks Jason!


Fever I really enjoy the Simpsons. It's just a shame that I am starting to LOOK like Homer.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011 1:41 AM

Does this mean better commercials in the future?

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Thursday, June 23, 2011 10:34 AM
Jerry's avatar

I'd like to see a dining plan added to the park for the day - Sorry but that greasy chicken in the Coral Courtyard isn't cutting it.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011 1:15 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

...budget that Disney keeps vs. what Cedar Fair can do...

This is the important part of that comment, so it's what I'm going to respond to. I don't disagree that Disney parks are way better, nicer, and prettier than CF Parks. having said that, I've never been to any CF park with it looking dirty or unmaintained.

But getting back to that quote, it isn't like they now have a Disney exec, and now they're going to have Disney's budget. My point was that Matt is inheriting a chain that is already in good shape (Much like Paramount Parks were when CF took them over), and are already up to the level that CF can maintain as far as cleanliness and maintenance (coming from an outside observer), whereas Disneyland was not up to that company's standards.

So while he can always improve, at least he doesn't have to spent a lot of time getting the parks up to the company's standards before being able to move on to more important things.


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

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Thursday, June 23, 2011 1:29 PM

Tekwardo said:
it isn't like they now have a Disney exec, and now they're going to have Disney's budget.

Unless CF starts charging Disney-like prices.


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