Family feud and lawsuits behind struggle for control of Holiday World

Posted Monday, March 25, 2013 8:20 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The park built by generations of a family is now splitting a family apart. Will’s widow, Lori Koch, and brother Dan Koch are fighting for control of the family legacy. She wants to pass Holiday World on to her three children. Dan Koch, a lawyer from Florida who once ran the park, says he now pines for a return. The two have quit talking to each other. She fired him as interim president and kicked him off the company board. He said her demands could destroy the park.

Read more and see video from The Courier-Journal.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 1:24 PM

And what compelled you to sign up this new account today to post this? As a moderator, I can see where you're posting from, FYI.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 1:44 PM

The statistics are very telling. 90% of family businesses fail in some fashion by the 4th generation. Clearly there is a dispute about "how much". However, ownership upon Wills death was not in dispute. People can, and will, hypothesize about a deceased persons intentions, but the only thing we know for sure about Wills intentions upon his passing is what is contained in the written, signed agreement. The agreement clearly indicates his desire that Dan would retain 100%. Dan reiterated numerous times that he would allow Wills children to retain or repurchase shares once the agreement was executed. As to why Will was transferring all shares to his siblings rather than his children, we do not know, but apparently he wanted to keep it in that part of the Koch family. He would be leaving his family $29 million plus instead of the park. Many economists and financial managers would say that in this day and age, a guaranteed $30M well managed is as good or better than a challenging risky business.

Not that it matters at all to the legal ruling, why would Dan return? Career change? Yes. Love for the park? Yes. Obligation to Will? Yes. 40+ years of experience working there ? Yes. Great place to work? Yes.....

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 1:48 PM

I am involved in the industry and know many enthusiasts. I review many sites but it is just not my nature to post comments unless the subject really interests me and I have something factual to add. I clearly have my opinions but for the sale of validity and credibility, my comments are based on supported facts.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 1:49 PM

We are not stupid. Please do not insult our intelligence, Just The Facts.

Last edited by LostKause, Tuesday, March 26, 2013 1:50 PM
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 1:51 PM

My apologies. I am not trying to insult anyone.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 1:58 PM

It's just always concerning when someone creates an account anonymously and immediately provides their first post regarding a sensitive and emotional topic. It screams of personal investment of some nature and that's just unnerving on a site of hobbyists who just like to chat about the business.

And for what it's worth, despite your insistence to just be here to discuss the facts, your initial posted article is still merely an opinion regarding whether a mistake was made. The courts ruled a specific way. That ruling stands until overturned by another court ruling. Whether that will or should happen is merely an opinion at this point.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 2:02 PM

LOL, the only time a "First post!" post is useful or necessary....

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 2:04 PM

Point well taken regarding forum and your concerns of impartiality are somewhat valid, but many of us have strong opinions on this. The park will survive, and thrive regardless of how this plays out.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 2:30 PM

I agree. The park will survive. Things will work out and be fine in the long run.

Be aware, however, that coming out to an enthusiast/hobbyist site and rendering passionate opinions (especially if you have an insider perspective of some kind) can do more harm than good.

It's in the best interest for all involved to have the community and guests of the park continue to be unbiased in their thinking. That way, no matter what happens there are no emotions being harbored by the masses that could impact the business. That's my two cents.

But you know, welcome and stuff. ;-)

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 10:59 PM

Dan, your comments make me realize that this will all be okay in the end. Thanks for taking your time to keep us updated.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013 8:59 AM

I cannot wait for Holiwood nights every year because it is simply the best event I have ever been to put on by a park. When you leave at midnight on Saturday, you immediately start the 364-day countdown until the next year's event. There must be something in their water (or pop!) down there. Thank you Dan, for everything you've done for the park, and thank you to everyone who helps in the operation of this rarity of a wonderful amusement park.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013 7:37 PM

Uhhhhh....... *cricket*

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Thursday, March 28, 2013 9:04 PM

Daniel Koch said:

Jeff, I hope I have done nothing to insult you on this forum.

You haven't done anything insulting. The way you conduct your business is your business. But it's troubling that you or someone on your network created another, anonymous account to back you up. Normally we bounce people who engage in that kind of activity, but I was hoping you could explain it.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:33 PM

Dan, not all lawyers are scum. I truly believe at least half of them get into law for basically the right reasons.

Okay, maybe a quarter of them. *laugh*

Lawyers provide an important service to the public. So often, I think they get caught up in the things that we as the general public don't see. Just like doctors: we think many doctors don't care about their patients, they're money grubbing, etc. Many people don't realize those docs are under enormous pressure to see 30 patients in a day or else not get paid, or they get penalized in some way with insurance and whatnot. I'm sure that lawyers don't always get to take morally unobjectionable cases because they need to do things like pay for their costly law degree and feed their family and whatnot.

I remain very sad for your loss. I only saw Will here a couple times and on some TV programs, but he seemed to really have a passion for the family business and seemed to have a good heart. I find so often that the best of us are gone way too soon.

I don't get what exactly is going on here, so I'm not going to comment on the above. I learned my lesson.

Best of luck in fixing the problems you're having. Family issues are difficult in the best of circumstances, and dealing with this as a result of the death of a loved one before his time is, I'm sure, heartbreaking.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:44 PM

You don't get what's going on above (despite it being spelled out) and yet that doesn't stop you from weighing in on the rest. Bunky, my dear, there are still so many lessons to learn.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:53 PM

This is the first time I felt like someone clearly needs some sort of help and is reaching out. Just sayin'.... somebody should help.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:54 PM

Well, yes. What I understood was that someone with account information coming from what appeared to be an inside source was posting stuff regarding the case. However, I'm not a site moderator, and I didn't want to speculate on that part of it. Like I said, I learned my lesson. Did I find the whole thing odd? Yes. But I guess I'll just stop commenting in general on this.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:56 PM

That would be a good idea.

And I agree with nasai that help is needed.

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Friday, March 29, 2013 12:49 PM

Do they serve pancakes at Holday World?

If not, will they be in the future?

I sure do like a good pancake. Any of you guys like pancakes?

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Friday, March 29, 2013 1:30 PM

^Yes please. Lots of butter and I like them to sit in a pool of syrup for a couple minutes to soak it up all. Thanks, now I gotta go out to IHOP :)

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