Ouimet appointed to Cedar Fair board, seeks a ninth member

Posted Monday, August 29, 2011 7:28 PM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: The following is an excerpt of a press release. -J]

Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, today announced that its Board of Directors will hold a Special Meeting of Unitholders on October 27, 2011, to allow unitholders to vote on the director nomination process. In accordance with the Regulations of Cedar Fair's general partner and the Limited Partnership Agreement of the Company, the proposal to allow unitholders to nominate directors requires unitholder approval. The Board will be recommending FOR these proposals and if the Board-recommended proposals are approved by the requisite unitholder vote, unitholders would have the right to nominate director candidates at the 2012 Annual Meeting of Unitholders. The Board also set September 12, 2011, as the record date for unitholders eligible to vote at the Special Meeting of Unitholders on October 27, 2011. The final information regarding the time and location for the Special Meeting, which is expected to be near its Corporate Headquarters in Sandusky, Ohio, will be provided after the SEC completes its review of the Company's proxy statement.

The Board also voted to expand its membership back to nine directors and appointed recently named President Matt Ouimet as its eighth director, effective immediately. Ouimet, who will succeed Dick Kinzel as Cedar Fair's chief executive officer in January 2012, becomes a Class III Director of the general partner of Cedar Fair with a term ending in 2014.

"The Board of Directors clearly understands the importance to unitholders of the nomination right," said C. Thomas ("Tom") Harvie, independent chairman. "The proposed right to nominate directors and returning the Board to nine members reconfirms Cedar Fair's commitment to govern in a manner that best serves the interests of all of our unitholders."

According to Harvie, the appointment of Ouimet to the Company's Board is a natural continuation of the planned leadership transition. "Matt's appointment to the Board is another important step in our deliberate CEO succession process," Harvie said. "His vast experience in the amusement park and hospitality industry, coupled with his clear vision of the Company's future, will be valuable to this Board."

Ouimet, 53, has been Cedar Fair's president since June 2011 and is a 20-year veteran of the amusement park and hospitality industry. Seventeen of those years were spent with the Walt Disney Company ("Disney"), where he last served as President of the Disneyland Resort.

The Board is extremely pleased with the CEO transition under way," Harvie said. "Matt joined us only two months ago and has rapidly come up to speed on the Company. Over the past few weeks he has personally met with investors who hold more than 75% of our institutionally held units, listening to their perspectives on our business strategy and governance practices, and he has shared his assessment and insight with the Board. Going forward, Matt will continue to engage in an active dialogue with both existing and potential investors."

Harvie continued, "Given the complexity of issues and future opportunities the Company will need to address going forward, it is important that the Board search for and add another highly experienced, independent executive to the current Board roster. Our goal is, and always has been, to maintain a strong Board which has a deep and diverse skill set that aligns with the Company's strategic focus and future growth needs."

The national search, which will be conducted with the assistance of Korn/Ferry International, a leading executive search firm, will focus on candidates with significant executive management experience, ideally possessing a strong marketing background to complement the Board's collective skill set. "It will be a highly inclusive process, and we will solicit candidate recommendations and other input from our major unitholders," said Harvie.

Read the entire press release from Cedar Fair.

Monday, August 29, 2011 7:52 PM
Jason Hammond's avatar

Sounds like things are moving along nicely.


843 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries
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Monday, August 29, 2011 8:08 PM

I'm very optimistic for what Matt can do. I hope he is sincere about listening to what their guests want because it seems like guests are being fairly vocal in their feelings about the Paddewheel removal. That's not to say the park won't still remove the ride, just that it seems a fair number of people (online at least, for what that's worth) feel the park needs more family attractions that aren't up-charges.


"Thank the Phoneticians!"

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Monday, August 29, 2011 8:38 PM

The board initially took no position on the unitholder nomination process when Q Funding proposed it, right? Now they are in favor of it.

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Monday, August 29, 2011 8:46 PM
Fun's avatar

I believe they were opposing Q Funding's method of accomplishing unit-holder nomination and proposed their own.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:59 AM
Jeff's avatar

Word on the street is that Ouimet is seen from time to time around the offices in a polo and khakis. In other words, not a tie. That could be the single biggest win for the full-time staff at Cedar Point.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 11:21 AM

With all of the complaints about micromanagement from above, intolerance for dissenting views, etc., if the single biggest win was I didn't have to wear a tie, I would be pretty bummed.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 11:34 AM
LostKause's avatar

But, not wearing a tie is just the beginning. It shows that the job can be more relaxed, and creates a less stressful attitude with all of the employees. Ties can be considered kind of threatening to the lower tier of employees, especially in an environment where "fun" is being sold.

One of my biggest problems with working at Cedar Point was how uptight the supervisors and managers were. Upper management used fear and intimidation to control their employees. Using positive reinforcement instead of negative threatening your employees could be a step forward, and perhaps, hopefully, taking off the tie is indicating that that will be the case.

Now that the witch is dead, I have high hopes for the new guy.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 11:43 AM

If its the beginning of correction of a whole list of problems, then not wearing a tie isn't the biggest win. And if its not the beginning of any of that then I stand by my statement. Some of the worst companies I know in terms of how employees are treated are casual and some of the best require ties.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:01 PM

I think the point may be that in this case, Kinzel's attire is directly related to his inability to evolve.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:10 PM
rollergator's avatar

A lack of a tie can be a statement, one that says "we're going to roll up our sleeves and get to WORK getting this ship's course corrected". Can't say whether or not this IS the statement Oumet is trying to make - but if it is, that's something that can, and should, be conveyed quickly to the employees and the customers.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:16 PM
mlnem4s's avatar

Jeff said:
Word on the street is that Ouimet is seen from time to time around the offices in a polo and khakis. In other words, not a tie. That could be the single biggest win for the full-time staff at Cedar Point.

I am glad to hear this, even if from a safety stand point for employees. I was working a coaster one day during a difficult staffing period and my tie accidently become caught in a locked restraint. I could have easily been strangled had it not been for the guests hollaring to get the controller's attention.

I am all for looking professional but clearly it can be done in a way that strikes a balance between comfort/safety while maintaining a "Cedar Fair" look.

I would be curious to know, has SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment changed grooming standards allowing males to have facial hair such as beards or goatees? I swear I saw a video on YouTube showing a male ride operator with a beard.

Last edited by mlnem4s, Tuesday, August 30, 2011 3:40 PM
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:18 PM
janfrederick's avatar

Matt, if you are reading this, I went to Knott's on Sunday and that huge expanse of concrete they call the Boardwalk could REALLY use some landscaping (oh, and a bit of work on Ghostrider). :)


"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:29 PM
birdhombre's avatar

mlnem4s said:
allowing males to have facial hair such as bears or goatees?

I saw some bears with facial hair at Cedar Point on Father's Day, but I don't think they were employees.


Edit: ;)

Last edited by birdhombre, Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:30 PM
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:35 PM
rollergator's avatar

^^Just a BIT of work on Ghostrider? Last time I rode that thing, it needed a fairly major overhaul. Oh, and Boardwalk def. could use some trees for shade...and other landscaping just to make it look less "CF-barren"... ;)

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:43 PM
Carrie J.'s avatar

GoBucks89 said:
Some of the worst companies I know in terms of how employees are treated are casual and some of the best require ties.

I agree.

It kind of amuses me a little to hear how many of the same people who rail against the idea that casual dress/grooming means something toward employee standards can also be so judgmental about what it means to wear suits and ties. Kind of hypocritical when you think about it.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:55 PM
Jeff's avatar

Dress codes, and people worrying about this kind of thing, ranks right up there with people being paid to keep empty window offices open and doubling up other people in interior offices (this goes on in the group I work in, so glad to leave it). It's a complete waste of time that has nothing to do with winning as a business.

GoBucks89 said:
With all of the complaints about micromanagement from above, intolerance for dissenting views, etc., if the single biggest win was I didn't have to wear a tie, I would be pretty bummed.

Wow, really? You couldn't see that what I was getting at is that this is symbolic of radical culture change? This isn't about ties at all.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 1:09 PM
Carrie J.'s avatar

Boy, I hope Microsoft gets it together soon or they may just go under. ;)

I think the point is that not everyone equates the wearing of ties to culture. I've worked in very positive work environments where suits were required. And I've worked in business casual environments (e.g. polos, khakis) that were very negative. The removal of a tie is not necessarily symbolic of anything. Perhaps he just doesn't like to wear ties.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 1:14 PM
mlnem4s's avatar

birdhombre said:

mlnem4s said:
allowing males to have facial hair such as bears or goatees?

I saw some bears with facial hair at Cedar Point on Father's Day, but I don't think they were employees.


Edit: ;)

LOL, thanks for pointing out my mistake...I was doing 3 things at once, though that could have been a Freudian slip!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 1:17 PM
Jeff's avatar

I'm not going to argue causation, Carrie, or try to account for every work environment in the world, because I'm talking about just one. The symbolism of this one matters.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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