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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 1:21 PM

Carrie -- I agree. Its only symbolic of radical culture change if he intends to put in place radical culture change. Without the culture change its a hollow symbol that doesn't mean jack squat. And I suspect that if he does put into place radical culture change, all the evils of the Kinzel regime are removed and Cedar Fair becomes the best place to work ever, that folks would be fine with a formal wear requirement. And I suspect on the flip side that if he puts into place a jeans/shorts-and-t-shirts-or-whatever-else-folks-want-to-wear dress code, but all of the horrendous work environment policies that folks complain about so often here continue, the new dress code won't mean very much.

Last edited by GoBucks89, Tuesday, August 30, 2011 1:22 PM
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 1:21 PM
Carrie J.'s avatar

Jeff said:

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.

Ok. That's a bit dramatic, but ok. I will defer to your knowledge about the importance of ties at Cedar Fair. It matters because you say so.

Though I still contend, Ouimet can just not like to wear ties and it doesn't necessarily mean a culture change has occurred. If change occurs, it will likely be for other reasons.

Last edited by Carrie J., Tuesday, August 30, 2011 1:23 PM

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

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 1:27 PM
Fun's avatar

Jeff is right. From everything I've heard so far, Ouimet may very well be Kinzel's opposite.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 3:17 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Fun said:
Jeff is right. From everything I've heard so far, Ouimet may very well be Kinzel's opposite.

The proof is in the tie. :)


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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 3:54 PM

Jeff is absolutely right. While I'm sure the CEO can wear whatever the heck he wants, at Cedar Fair, deviating from the standard established by Kinzel is huge, and cannot be overstated. This is a company that has a current CEO that belongs in the last attraction he'll be responsible for during his time, and even the smallest thing (like this) is going to equate to a bigger "ripple" than normal. The changes may not be very visible to even an enthusiast on the midway, but behind the scenes, I think things are going to change pretty fast in areas.


Original BlueStreak64

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 3:59 PM

Gonch, didn't you say on a podcast that Ouimet was your new man crush? Do you like the tie or no tie? :)

Last edited by Smoke329, Tuesday, August 30, 2011 4:04 PM
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 4:12 PM
CoasterDemon's avatar

I wanna see tie guys walking around the park, reminding all the smokers of the designated smoking areas :)


Billy
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 4:16 PM

I just want decent food at a fair price.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 5:06 PM
Jeff's avatar

maXairMike said:
While I'm sure the CEO can wear whatever the heck he wants, at Cedar Fair, deviating from the standard established by Kinzel is huge, and cannot be overstated.

Thanks, this is what I was really after. Jesus, why is everyone being all toxic about this? Am I really being too "inside baseball?"


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 5:13 PM
LostKause's avatar

CoasterDemon said:
I wanna see tie guys walking around the park, reminding all the smokers of the designated smoking areas :)

I rather the people doing that have guns and flashlights. lol

I've actually seen people with ties at Cedar Fair telling (or screaming at) park guests to put out their cigarettes and put on their shirts. I prefer the polite aproach, with a "please" and a "thank you."


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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 5:13 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Smoke329 said:
Gonch, didn't you say on a podcast that Ouimet was your new man crush? Do you like the tie or no tie? :)

I'd have to see side-by-side photos.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 6:11 PM
Carrie J.'s avatar

Jeff said:
Thanks, this is what I was really after. Jesus, why is everyone being all toxic about this? Am I really being too "inside baseball?"

I hardly think I'm being toxic. Really? If you want toxic, I can find some. :)

I'll be honest and direct. If the biggest complaint anyone has about an employment situation is the attire of the CEO and what he/she expects the employees to wear, then I would suggest said person is whiny and ridiculous.

I understand there were big cultural issues related to being employed at CF/CP. But I do not believe for one second they were initiated or fostered by dress code. That's just silliness.

All I am pointing out is that the lack of a tie is not an indication of significant cultural change. And GoBucks89 said it best... if the real cultural issues were addressed, I doubt anyone would care what the CEO wears to work each day or what they themselves are required to wear for that matter.

Beyond that, my comments are based on the fact that it's frustrating to hear people jump to defend against the criticism of casual dress and body piercings/tattoos and in the same vein take shots every chance they can at suits and ties. It's hypocritical, as I said before.

If that's too toxic, just let me know. :)


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

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 7:35 PM
Jeff's avatar

Ugh, it's not about the ties. Really. No one ever suggested (except perhaps me, facetiously) that it was anywhere on a prioritized list of complaints.

It is, however, a very symbolic change of culture, not in some global context, but in the context of Sandusky.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 10:23 PM
Carrie J.'s avatar

Ok. If you say so.


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

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 10:47 PM

But now if you get called in for an interview, do you, or don't you wear a tie? OMG, the stress!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 10:52 PM
Jeff's avatar

I do say so. You don't have to agree. :)


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 11:16 PM
Carrie J.'s avatar

I don't. But then, I think I've been pretty clear about that. You know...through my toxicity.

:)


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

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 11:23 PM

I think it is telling, though, that people with first-hand experience and understanding of the culture at the Point are all agreeing. Again, you may not notice it walking the midway and riding the rides, but behind the scenes, I am almost certain there are changes happening, and when the live dino is truly gone from the CEO position, it will happen fast.


Original BlueStreak64

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011 12:02 AM
Jeff's avatar

I do hope that's true, about the speed. I think there are a great many dedicated and smart people below C-level in that company, and I look forward to what they can do without having every little decision requiring approval. I think the potential is massive, and in the long run it will be something you can notice on the midway.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011 12:40 AM

Oh I believe it will be visible on the midway once the larger change is allowed and fostered. There is a lot of desire and realization of lurking potential as low as the seasonal hourly staff, and it is waiting to be allowed "out."* Ouimet knows how to harness that and turn it into results from his days at Disneyland, so that alone is going be be huge. Speed is going to be slightly relative, though. Things will change fast on the inside, and like most things, it will take its time working outward. In this specific case, that speed will be pushed by newfound enthusiasm, but will be pulled at by any leftover Kinzel cruft (planned capital expenditures, personnel, etc.). I think best case scenario is we see real outward change, especially at CP, after two years of Matt on his own. The biggest change is needed there, and necessary improvements will radiate, as the bad decisions did during Kinzel.


*It is no coincidence that there have been an impressive number of exceptional seasonal employees from fairly recent summers that have moved on to much greener pastures in the industry, especially through the Disney College Program. I think a fair amount of them could have been retained (several would have gladly stayed) in CF were it not for the glaring issues that kept mounting. Definitely not the same as the outflow of talented, high-level Paramount and CF folk, but still a net loss.

Last edited by maXairMike, Wednesday, August 31, 2011 12:53 AM

Original BlueStreak64

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