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.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 12:20 AM
LostKause's avatar

MDOmnis said:
and the GM was standing at the main entrance flirting with 14 year olds.

Finally, some one said what I've been wanting to say this entire thread. Way to go, MDOmnis! Way to go. :D

Thursday, January 13, 2011 12:23 AM
Jeff's avatar

Reminds me of the Facebook exchange I mentioned.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011 10:27 AM

I guess I'm still trying to ascertain if there is anything objective to hang the hat on. I'm playing devil's advocate for sure...but this thread that pertains to Cedar Fair as a whole has turned into mostly a criticism of nepotism and one person. You would think that IF the guy in charge was as incompetent as alleged...there should be some indication that Carowinds is failing in areas that other parks in the chain are not...?

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.

Is poor employee training a Carowinds problem, or a Cedar Fair problem? I only know Knotts and one day at WoF. While I can't specifically complain about anything in general, neither seemed to WOW me on the operations front. Since I can't complain, ;) they were obviously better than Six Flags. Is Carowinds on a Six Flags level? Or a WoF level?

Was the 14-year old hot? :) I digress...

Without direct knowledge of this specific situation...I would suggest that massive debt loads, inability to illuminate direction (distributions or not?) etc...are more indicators of leadership at the highest levels, rather than the fault of one guy at Carowinds. I would suspect that the same poor decision making that brought them to this point COULD seep into operation deficits at ALL the parks in the chain.

I get that this one person is probably not the best person for that job. I surmise that it would not have made much a difference IF they had the most qualified person in the world as Carowind's manager. Their problems do not seem to be Carowinds. Their problems go higher than that.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 10:40 AM
Tekwardo's avatar

I don't get why people are hung up on this. No one ever said, implied, or alluded to Carowinds being a major problem. The problem is that Dick Kinzel, who as has been stated numerous times in this thread alone, has many faults, and one particular fault is that he put his potentially unqualified, or at the least underqualified, son in the GM position at Carowinds when there were other highly qualified people with experience that didn't get the job, and in the case of the Paramount staff, were let go of. And he has been known to appoint other family members in the past to jobs they were either unqualified for or underqualified for.

Bart has been at Carowinds, what, 2 years? Sure, we don't have any blatant evidence that he's done a poor job, on the contrary, at this point it seems that Carowinds had a great year, and I'm not sure anyone here said he's done a poor job. But just because he did or didn't do a poor job doesn't mean that blatant nepotism is right, or that he should have gotten the job over other qualified people. His lack of failing doesn't mean he should have been put in as GM in the first place, nor does it make it okay that he was put in and 2 years later, the park hasn't folded.

And as far as the fact that thats what we're discussing in this particular thread when it's obvious that there are larger factors as to why Kinzel is someone who needs to go as both the director of the board and CEO (and not just Bart's appointment at Carowinds), I'd imagine you of all people would realize that often when we get off on a tangent in one thread on this board, we tend to discuss that ad nauseum.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Thursday, January 13, 2011 10:42 AM

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Thursday, January 13, 2011 10:40 AM

Aamilj said:
...IF the guy in charge was as incompetent as alleged...there should be some indication that Carowinds is failing in areas that other parks in the chain are not...

I work with more than a few completely incompetent people, and the company I work for is actually performing well in spite of those few. I obviously can't speak for the situation at CW, but here this situation exists because others pick up the slack of those few, which obfuscates their shortcomings, both with regard to management's perception as well as the company's performance. And I would imagine that if those few incompetent folks I work with were related to our CEO, we'd work even harder to pick up their slack, knowing they're not likely to be fired except in the most extreme circumstances.

Last edited by djDaemon, Thursday, January 13, 2011 10:42 AM

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Thursday, January 13, 2011 11:40 AM

Bart is a symptom of the problem, not the disease. But, it is one of the more blatantly obvious symptoms. Like a rash that is the outward indicator of some internal infection. (Sorry for the kind of gross metaphor.)

Q has been suggesting that the Board of Directors is controlled too much by Dick Kinzel and not "independent" enough. Ok, so...evidence of that could very well be that they allowed Dick to appoint his son as General Manager of one of the parks. Heck, they could have named me the General Manager at Carowinds and if I had come competent managers under me and got a brand new rollercoaster I'd have had a good year too.

Now, to take that a step futher, you have other much more qualified people that work for you who were seemingly passed over for the GM gig at Carowinds and those people know not only that they lost out to the CEOs kid but they also know all of the dirt on said individual as well which adds insult to injury. Suddenly you have a morale problem.

Then, after you have basically chased away some of the more capable executives from the Paramount days you make significant decisions regarding the season pass programs, group ticketing, etc based solely on changing over to the "Cedar Fair" way of doing it. After you do that it backfires tremendously and you are left to admitting to have made those significant mistakes. Now you are, in effect, telling those Paramount Parks carryovers that stuck around that maybe those folks we let go actually did have a clue after all....but it is too late to do anything about it. More morale problems.

And then you get rid of the one man who seems to be the future after you finally retire with nary a word publicly as to why. And, in fact, you might be caught lying about it. That gentleman was well liked and respected in the company so you futher bury yourself in morale problems.

This is a pretty good indicator of his leadership that many of us on the outside (and I'd be willing to be many others on the inside) have been questioning in the past 5-10 years.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 6:51 PM

Kinzel and the Board of Directors were so confident in their plans andvision for the company.

If only those pesky owners of the company would leave them alone.

They would remain free to extend golden-parachutes to more relatives, grantstock options whilst depressing the unit price via 25 cent dividends (gainingvalue when vested options soar upon restored historic dividend levels), andinstalling the Kinzel Kids to run the company.

Management and the Board failed to grasp the direction owners of the companydemanded to go.

The capital community demands the company to go forward. Enough time hasbeen spent gazing in the rear-view mirror. Time to put a new driver in the seat,engage the transmission, and accelerate.

Divident/payout vote being to close to call sends a strong message to theBoard--increase the dividend: it is no longer business as usual at CF; shake-uptime has arrived.

The debt refinancing management so proudly points to as responsible for the30% rise in stock price resulted from unitholder demands for refinancing.

CF cost of the failed merger exceeds 10 million. Management paid outhalf its cash on hand to cover these costs. Yet they were able to open parksand produce a record attendance year. This makes it apparent the company waswell positioned financially. A merger was never necessary.

Lost in the shuffle--CF operated 40 less days compared to last year. Failingto restore cut days resulted in significant revenues losses.

A million new visitors and on-park revenues fell 1%? It is as if none of themillion new visitors spent a single penny on park.

Separating CEO and Board Chair(man) jobs has a clever provision blockingeligibility to any former company Executive. This precludes Mr. Kinzel, among others,from future service. Given Mr. Kinzel's offer to serve as Board Chair afterretirement this provision seems all the more necessary.

Removing Mr. Kinzel from the Board Chair position substantially reduces hisinfluence upon the successor selection. Given nepotism issues this is a wisepreemptive move.

Significant policy changes which have substantially improved the company oflate have come upon the instance of unitholders. Management and the Board didnot lead. They have followed.

CEO compensation last year clocked in at over $4 million. Unitholders werepaying for leadership. Unitholders did not get leadership worthy of such cost.Unitholders got the short end of the stick.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 7:42 PM

Your use of italics and bold is impressive.

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Friday, January 14, 2011 1:27 AM

Tip: Don't compose anything in Notepad. It eats spaces at soft line-turns and makes it so that everybody can tell you copied from Notepad and pasted. :) The bug has been known since Windows '95 but the behavior has never been fixed.

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Friday, January 14, 2011 7:13 AM
kpjb's avatar

Probably 'cause Microsoft employees are too busy playing mini golf all day. Smiley face.


Friday, January 14, 2011 7:30 AM
Rick_UK's avatar

The letter argues that unitholders have the right to nominate directors for Cedar Fair.

It also insists that Geoffrey Raynor, who heads Q Investments, has met with Kinzel twice, and says that Raynor has a high regard for the amusement park business, even if Raynor has never visited a Cedar Fair park.

"Mr. Raynor personally grew up going to theme parks, and, with five children currently, has spent a great deal of time recently at various theme parks -- including a very recent visit to Six Flags, which he enjoyed immensely," it says.


Nothing to see here. Move along.

Friday, January 14, 2011 9:43 AM

There seems to be some pretty large discrepancies in the truth. The Falfas separation, whether or not Raynor went to Six Flags, etc. You have to wonder what is around the next corner.

Friday, January 14, 2011 10:26 AM

Something that I have pondering lately is if Mr. Raynor is related to Milton T. Raynor, who was one of the principal investors in the short lived Freedomland?

Friday, January 14, 2011 10:47 AM
Jerry's avatar

I'm just waiting for Spitballs and name calling to ensue...

Friday, January 14, 2011 10:56 AM

How about "I am rubber and you are glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you?"

And can you go wrong with "Liar, Liar. Pants on fire."

Last edited by GoBucks89, Friday, January 14, 2011 11:01 AM
Friday, January 14, 2011 11:03 AM
LostKause's avatar

"I know you are but what am I?"

Friday, January 14, 2011 11:16 AM

Q has been suggesting that the Board of Directors is controlled too much by Dick Kinzel and not "independent" enough. Ok, so...evidence of that could very well be that they allowed Dick to appoint his son as General Manager of one of the parks.

I understand this point and agree with this take 100%. I'm trying to figure out what else Dick Kinzel has done to piss off everybody around him. I'm not defending him in the least. I just don't know what else he has done and was hoping for some insight beyond the nepotism charge. Just trying to move the discussion in a different direction...with crappy results so far...:(

For example, it seems the Paramount purchase might have (I'm not 100% on this...but am reading between the lines) not been a smart financial move in the sense that they took on a lot of debt they MAY not be able to handle. Does Dick take sole blame for this decision? On the other side, Six Flags took a big dive to bankruptcy while FUN stayed afloat after the 90's boom...does Dick deserve credit?

Maybe it is just time for a different man for different times... I'm not as up on my FUN management history as some of you. Was the nepotism the first step that got folks questioning his competency? Or was it around the time of Paramount?

Friday, January 14, 2011 11:32 AM
Tekwardo's avatar

It's a combination of a lot of stuff, and (no offense, even though I'm sure I'll come off like a prick saying this), there is plenty to read on the subject all over this site.

It's not just nepotism. It's a lot of things. I think the guy was pretty competent in the 90s while the opposite can be said of Burke & Co. over at Six Flags. But there have been poor decision after poor decision.

The whole Paramount aquisition wasn't just about the debt, but about the way he took control of those parks, what he did to the former management (who were running a very successful company), his lack of integrating what worked from Paramount, the whole season pass debacle.

It's taking on too much debt with Paramount & Geauga Lake. It's the way both of those aquisitions were handled. Its the lack of implementing new technologies that other companies have done that make customer service better. It's the fear of new technologies that could be a great investment if the company would just spend a little and charge for extras (the oft mentioned/maligned queue management systems). It's the sucky food quality at the enormous prices. It's the fact that he keeps going to one company to build stuff, and they can't even get a simple flume that's been around since the birth of Christ to work. It's trying to run every single park like he runs Cedar Point, which is a totally different best.

And its the nepotism. It's the Ego. It's the micromanagement. It's getting rid of Falfas. It's not having anyone to be accountable to except the shareholders, and then brushing them off by canceling meetings at the last minute, etc.

It's a lot of stuff that we've discussed a lot.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Friday, January 14, 2011 11:33 AM

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Friday, January 14, 2011 11:47 AM
rollergator's avatar

Summary: Failure to heed well-intentioned and well-informed voices of dissent. ;)

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

Friday, January 14, 2011 12:28 PM

Thanks Tek...that is what I was looking for. Sounds like he might want to leave as quietly as he can...but that time has probably passed. I concur on the food. This side of Knott's restaurant...I have nothing good to say from the culinary standpoint.


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