Cedar Fair execs grilled by unitholders at annual meeting

Posted Tuesday, June 8, 2010 12:17 PM | Contributed by Jeff

After the worst year since the firm went public more than two decades ago, scores of investors vented over the fall of the share price and the suspension of their annual dividend. They grilled Cedar Fair executives about the dropped $3.4 billion sale to Apollo Global Management, the management and board members' pay, and lack of return on a once-stable investment.

Read more from The Toledo Blade and The Sandusky Register.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 12:20 PM

Dick says, "Unfortunately, with what we faced in the economy and the weather last year, we just weren't able to sustain it." What a load of crap. You can't sustain it because you over-paid for the Paramount Parks and have no strategic vision or leadership. Remember, you bought the Paramount Parks to diversify and not be held to poor weather.

That he was paid a bonus is worse. I sure hope these two new board members are vocal and don't allow that to happen again.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010 1:34 PM

I can barely even talk about Cedar Fair related topics right now without becoming absolutely furious. The bottom line for me is knowing how much the hardworking men and women in the parks get shafted with horrible pay, lousy benefits, ridiculously outdated "rules" to follow, no authority to "do the right thing" for the park guests....on and on and on. Yet there sit Dick and Jack and Peter still reaping the rewards and benefits, no sacrifice on their part. If they can sit there and tell a room full of investors they have been paid well for years with dividends, why is it not the right of investors to say WE have paid you clowns well for years as well and maybe NONE OF YOU should be getting any bonuses?!

Dick Kinzel always has an excuse and something to point the finger at other than HIMSELF. His story about the economy and weather last year being tough is a sham, things have not being going well for several years now. The way they "fix the numbers" is only going to cover their butt so long. When is someone going to let the truth be known?!

If last year was truly an anomaly, and Dick was any sort of a real man, he would have done what the airline CEO's and others did last year, forfeit his pay and work for $1. Only then would he even remotely have an ounce of credibility. He can't though because he is nothing more than a lying, greedy old man who is long past his prime.

Last edited by mlnem4s, Tuesday, June 8, 2010 1:35 PM
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010 9:26 PM

Best quote in the "Toledo Blade"

I guess the early on and through the season empty rooms and such were not an indicator enough to adjust some pricing to the market.... I wonder what crystal ball the Orlando outfits had.

Second best:
"Unfortunately, the world changed and we really got up against the wall with what is, in effect, our mortgage,"

Just WOW on this one...

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 1:14 AM

mlnem4s said:
The bottom line for me is knowing how much the hardworking men and women in the parks get shafted with horrible pay, lousy benefits, ridiculously outdated "rules" to follow, no authority to "do the right thing" for the park guests....on and on and on.

Every time someone writes something like that on here, a kitten dies. Part-time, barely-above-minimum wage jobs with any company are all about hard work, low pay, no benefits, lots of rules, and little ability to make decisions for yourself. That's just the way it is. There are plenty of things to get mad at CF about. That's not one of them. Six Flags does it. So does Disney, Universal, Busch, Kennywood, Indiana Beach, Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, Holiday World (gasp!), Wal Mart, Target, Home Depot, McDonalds, Burger King, Chipotle. I could go on, if you want.

Last edited by bigboy, Wednesday, June 9, 2010 1:15 AM
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 1:23 AM

That's not true at all. Good companies do empower people, even the little people, to do the right thing.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 1:34 AM

Just because everyone does it doesn't make it right. If you went to a umm...Grateful Dead concert, for example, and everyone was smoking funny cigarettes, would it make it right?

It's all about businesses taking advantage of employees. Giving employees a better work experience wouldn't kill them, or force them out of business. What it would do is cut into their precious profits, but I have the opinion that if that's the case, and they just can't let go some of the profits in order to provide a more comfortable job, then they should raise prices in order to be able to provide it.

Every time this topic comes up in my life, I hear a Nine Inch Nails song in my head, from 1992's Broken EP. The song is called "Happiness in Slavery". Broken is one of my favorite pieces of music of all time.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 1:46 AM

I had to reply to this one.

Bigboy,

McDonald's was my work place from the time that I turned 15 until I finished University at 22. They are all about empowering everyone and spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year on training and advancement programs. They employ programs similar to that of companies that you may consider as desirable workplaces, Microsoft, AIG, Progressive etc...

McDonald's is the perfect example of why continued investment in employees and your day to day operations is important.

I now work for a marketing company (handling the Pepsi Refresh promotion, and I wish I could vote for give kids the world but policies prevent me from doing so.) and I owe many of the skills I have developed to my "crappy" job at McDonald's.

It's sad to say but I think that McDonald's played a role in my development as much as my overly expensive education.

I’m a University of Western Ontario graduate that would never look down my nose to a McDonald's employee. Heck they even offer health insurance.

To say that happy employees with minimum pay is impossible is off base. Could I afford to work at McDonald's now, with a wife and child? Doubtful, but they did allow me to think for myself in the time that I was there. I also advanced well beyond minimum wage. I owned a brand new vehicle while I was there and covered my living expenses throughout University.

Cedar Fair is capable of the same thing. A happy employee is a productive and driven employee. They could have additional employees that work less hours with only a slight cost increase. Reports have been published that productivity lessens by employee/hour throughout the work day. Do your realize how many employees work in excess of twelve hours/day at Cedar Point? Many of the companies you named as examples have internal policies that forbid employees from working in excess of eight hours/day.

Last edited by Cypr3ss187, Wednesday, June 9, 2010 1:49 AM
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 1:54 AM

Lost Kause,

Broken is second only to Pretty Hate Machine.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 8:06 AM

I suspect mlnem4s was talking about the full time workforce, not the seasonal staff. Unless there have been significant changes at Cedar Fair since I left, the full time workforce probably is underpaid. They can get away with that because there are so many young folks who want to get the relatively few full time jobs that open up each year.

But, by an large, the "new car smell" wears off of that job after a while and your dream job becomes just another job. No worries for Dick and the gang though because there is someone waiting to take your place when you throw in the towel.

I enjoyed the amusement park industry but I was not passioniate enough about my job at Cedar Point to tolerate the short sighted decisions of Kinzel that affected my responsibilities. And, while it has been 12 years since I was there I think it is pretty telling that there are not a lot of FT people still with the company that were there with me at that time. There are some that continue to give it their all but a lot of talent and experience (I don't include myself) has left that place over the last decade.

Last edited by wahoo skipper, Wednesday, June 9, 2010 10:24 AM
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 9:44 AM

As wahoo skipper points out, I was not talking about seasonals.

Jeff's post is absolutely the truth. My years at Target shaped my leadership skills to give everyone the opportunity to "do the right thing" when it comes to dealing with guests. It is why jeff, wahoo skipper, myself and others keep screaming there needs to be a complete cultural shift at Cedar Fair when it comes to management style. It isn't 1976 anymore.

Last edited by mlnem4s, Wednesday, June 9, 2010 9:48 AM
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 11:08 AM

I'll add to the screaming as well. When I briefly worked in the tourism industry we had a motivational speaker talk about how Marriott does business. Everyone at the their hotels from the GM all the way down to the bellhop are empowered to fulfill the needs of their customers. Those who think that Cedar Fair is just like every other company might find this interesting: http://www.executiveblueprints.com/_cases/service_marriott.pdf

I also know that when CF took over the Paramount Parks, the few full-time people that Dick didn't axe were told the party is over: 6-day work weeks, 10+ hour days, no time off during the summer season, fewer benefits, and lower pay.

Last edited by Jeffrey Seifert, Thursday, June 10, 2010 12:07 AM
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 11:18 AM

Jeffrey Seifert said:
I also know that when CF took over the Paramount Parks, the few full-time people that Dick didn't axe were told the party is over: 6-day work weeks, 10+ hour days, no time off during the summer season, fewer benefits, and lower pay.

Thank you. I just don't even have the energy anymore to go into all the details like you pointed out. It is beyond ridiculous and totally counter-productive.

I am waiting for the day Cedar Point turns into nothing more than overpriced condos, McMansions and a golf course due to Kinzel & Co's ineptness.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 11:44 PM

So Kinzel gets snooty because the unitholders are treating the distribution like an "entitlement?" Well, excuse me, but since distributions are a sign of a well-run company, yes I do expect companies I invest my money in not to flounder. What idiot hands over his money to a company that he knows will not give anything back AND will lose the value of the original investment when the share price tanks? Not only are we entitled to a distribution, we're entitled to a Board that doesn't have their collective heads shoved up their exit ramps.

Of all the quotes, I love this line the best!

"You guys are the ones that pretty much drove this thing into a ditch..."
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... and the blanking boats still don't fit!

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