Cedar Fair vote elects to split CEO and chairman roles, distribution increase too close to call

Posted Tuesday, January 11, 2011 12:04 PM | Contributed by Fun

Shareholders of Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. voted today in Huron to change the management structure of the company. The shareholders also voted on raising the dividend, but the vote was too close to call this morning.

Read more from The Plain Dealer.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 9:41 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Actually, I was rather vocal about that, swoosh, but I wasn't posting here then. I thought sacking the paramount peeps was a terrible idea then and even mores now.


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Tuesday, January 11, 2011 9:59 PM

I think it's a bit of a stretch to compare Bart Kinzel to John Shanrock. John spent more than 20 years with the company, moving up on his own accord, before he became a GM. Speaking of him, has anyone heard the full story with that? If memory serves me correctly, there were some rumblings he got forced out to make room for Bart? I do recall the timing of it was a bit awkward. Shanrock resigned/fired in November of '08 and Bart was immediately on the scene... yet no press release about Bart taking the reigns until the next spring and no mention or thanks to Shanrock for his 20+ years of service.

Regarding Dick's handling of the personnel he acquired during the Paramount acquisition... monumental disaster. Enough said.

And yes, Dick's son-in-law is CF's Corporate VP of Resale. I'd suggest it was most definitely another case of nepotism. I don't think he joined the company until 2004 or 05 as Director of Games for CP and then a year or 2 later is promoted to a Corporate VP.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:03 PM

I know the difference is that they are not a public company, but everyone praises Holiday World for "nepotism." Bart was also the GM during Carowinds record crowds this year. Just being devil's advocate.


This can't be that easy!
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:23 PM
Jeff's avatar

Your comparison doesn't make sense. At Holiday World, the family owns the business. They're accountable to each other. Cedar Fair is accountable to its owners, the unit holders.


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Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:35 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

And who exactly praises Holiday World for said nepotism?


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Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:38 PM

I noted the difference, it is why I started the post that way and I hear you. I just don't think the major issue here is nepotism, I think it's a cheap shot. If you want to critique the Paramount additions, the lack of creative marketing, the price of food, and the fear of "too many season passes," I hear you. There is a list of things that could be improved.....even basic guest service. But, Bart....thats an easy target, but not the issue. Enjoy the site by the way.


This can't be that easy!
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:44 PM

Tekwardo said:
And who exactly praises Holiday World for said nepotism?

Holiday World is celebrated for being "family owned" and that the family still runs it. Cedar Fair is guilty of going public when it shouldn't have. They are guilty of what I mentioned in reply to Jeff's post. As far as the "nepotism" it's an easy target, but not important. I would focus on the serious issues the company has; lack of of value proposition, lack of innovation, and lack of other opinions besides the CEO being heard.


This can't be that easy!
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:52 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

I think it's a big stretch to say that being praised for being family owned & operated is the same as praising nepotism. Since Will's passing, did they make his son the new head of the company? Nope. Sure, his brother is now president of the family business, but IIRC, there is someone there actually running the day to day operations as well.

And nepotism in any publicly owned company is 'important'.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 1:43 AM
Jeff's avatar

The nepotism issue isn't important? When you appoint unqualified schmucks to senior positions because they're family, yeah, I'd say that's an issue, and absolutely illustrative of poor the poor decision making that has contributed to the company's problems.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 8:08 AM

I'm trying to keep the discussion civil but, suffice it to say, I don't believe the current GM at Carowinds should be the GM of Blockbuster Video. Frankly, I think Derek Kinzel (the son working for Great Wolf...and I think a VP in that company now) is head and shoulders above his older brother and I still wouldn't support him being a GM in Cedar Fair.

Is that in and of itself a reason to chastise Dick? No, but it is a blatantly obvious illustration of his lack of regard for business accumen not to mention his lack of regard for the people in his company who are far more qualified (and with less baggage) to run a park than Bart. In fact, I would be willing to bet that the decision to put Bart in that job was one of the overriding factors in the decision of some of the more qualified "lifers" in Cedar Fair to call it a day and move on.

Dick got rid of a lot of very qualified industry veterans when he took over Paramount (and Geauga Lake for that matter). Had he kept some of those folks (and actually listened to them) perhaps the Paramount merger goes better. Maybe they don't make all of the season pass decisions that lead to him later admitting he made mistakes in not knowing those markets and how they would react to the changes.

Bart is an easy target because he is...in fact...an easy target. Ask most people inside the company if they think he should have EVER ascended into his current position and I'd put money on a unanimous or overwhelming "no".

And, if there was an independent Chairman of the Board I don't think Bart ever rises out of Cedar Point...if he were even allowed to stay with the company at all.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 5:09 PM

I hear the same things from folks inside the company, however I think it's a small issue. Nepotism is a sexy issue to point your finger at, but I think it is a non-factor in the long list of Dick judgement calls. He has made multiple leadership choices that were not strong outside of Bart......


This can't be that easy!
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 6:22 PM

But you'd agree that is a pretty basic business tenet and if he can't get that one right it leads to larger questions of judgment.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 6:49 PM
rollergator's avatar

Having relatives in the business isn't necessarily a bad thing for the company. If they comes in knowledgeable and hardworking, I don't see where the "non-family employees" are necessarily going to feel as though there is a "problem" with nepotism.

However, I can tell you from more recent experiences in our office that NOTHING on Earth can destroy morale faster than having a relative come into a workplace, lacking experience and judgement, but being granted too much authority way too fast. There are so many loopholes in our University environment.

Last edited by rollergator, Wednesday, January 12, 2011 6:50 PM

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 7:30 PM

Family members can work out. But in my experience, appearances/perceptions create too many issues even if there are no substantive issues. Family member needs to work harder and be better than anyone else to avoid having folks believe he/she is there only because of their relationship to the boss. And the boss needs to go to the other extreme to avoid the appearance of playing favorites. It can be done but its tough. And I think it works better if the family member establishes him/herself outside the company his/her relative runs. Easier for folks to accept that person being there based on merit rather than relationship to the boss.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 7:54 PM

I have no dog in this fight...other than self-education. But what exactly is the problem with the management at Carowinds? Where is Carowinds failing versus the other parks (Wonderland, Kings Island, etc) that have similar circumstances (Paramount)? Is this particular park way underperforming in terms of attendance, expenses, guest experience, etc? If management is the problem you would expect that this particular park would be unerachieving as compared to the others. Is this indeed the case?

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 8:03 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

No one ever said anything about Carowinds underperforming. People don't feel that the GM is capable of running the park, but that doesn't mean the park is failing.

The 2nd in command there used to run Trek, Terra Mitica, and has quite a lot of experience, which is a good thing. I spoke to him over the summer at a park event, and he knows what he's doing. But that still doesn't mean the person in the #1 position is the reason the park hasn't crashed and burned.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 8:06 PM

Well, we know Carowinds is in the southern unit of CF, which saw major increases in attendance this year. By most accounts, Carowinds had a jump at the turnstiles, most of which can probably be attributed to Intimidator. I believe there has been some anecdotal evidence that Bart's not the best GM in the world. Maybe those who know should refresh our memories on the matter.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 8:33 PM

Carowinds got a nice attendance boost this year because they spent $25 million on a ride that dwarfed anything else in that area.

That still doesn't change the fact that operations weren't that impressive, employees didn't know the difference between a parent swap and a piece of toilet paper, and the GM was standing at the main entrance flirting with 14 year olds.


-Matt

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 9:23 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

And that's when he wasn't walking around telling employees which trees to cut down...Or to change the name and sign for the scrambler. Stupid stuff.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 11:24 PM

Comforting to know that some things never change.

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