Six Flags Over Georgia retires after 45 years with the company

Posted Monday, March 4, 2013 9:28 AM | Contributed by Jeff

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

Six Flags Over Georgia today announced the retirement of its park president, Melinda Ashcraft, capping an incredible 45 year career with Six Flags. Ashcraft has enjoyed a remarkable journey with Six Flags that began at Six Flags Over Georgia, where she worked as a ride operator the year the park opened. She continued to rise through the ranks, holding a number of managerial positions at parks in St. Louis, Mo.; Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.; Valencia, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; and San Antonio, Texas. Melinda has served as park president at Six Flags Over Georgia and Six Flags White Water since January 2004.

In January of this year, Ms. Ashcraft became the fifth recipient of the prestigious Six Flags Angus G. Wynne lifetime achievement award in honor of her numerous organizational and community achievements.

“When I began my journey at Six Flags Over Georgia I never thought I would be where I am today; it has been a wonderful privilege,” said Melinda Ashcraft. “There are exciting plans on the horizon for the Six Flags Atlanta properties. I look forward to cheering Dale on as he leads our team to even greater heights.”

Industry veteran Dale Kaetzel, who most recently served as park president at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California has been named to succeed Ashcraft. Prior to joining Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Kaetzel served for eight years as a senior executive at four Paramount Parks, including Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto where he served as senior vice president and general manager. Kaetzel also spent 13 years in executive roles for Centre Management/MCI Center in Washington, D.C. and was the former marketing director of the San Francisco Giants.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Six Flags Over Georgia family and continuing the legacy of offering the most innovative rides, shows and attractions to our guests at the Atlanta properties,” said Kaetzel. “I look forward to taking Six Flags Over Georgia and White Water to the next level of success in years to come.”

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Monday, March 4, 2013 9:29 AM
Jeff's avatar

That is so crazy to think about. No one works for anyone that long anymore. That's one company (well, in various incarnations) for her entire professional life.


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

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Monday, March 4, 2013 10:05 AM

While not as common as it once was, I don't think its as unusual as you make it sound.

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Monday, March 4, 2013 10:25 AM
Jeff's avatar

What person today graduating from college is going to work at the same place for 45 years?


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

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Monday, March 4, 2013 10:27 AM

That's a great accomplishment for her. It's good to see that she stayed with the company that long.


Collin Aynes

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Monday, March 4, 2013 10:31 AM

According to the headline, the PARK retired. I didn't know they could :)


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Monday, March 4, 2013 10:36 AM

I don't have a crystal ball so I cannot provide a list of names of people who are graduating from college today (or even recently) who will work at the same company 45 years.

Last edited by GoBucks89, Monday, March 4, 2013 10:37 AM
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Monday, March 4, 2013 11:20 AM

Jeff said:

What person today graduating from college is going to work at the same place for 45 years?

The lucky ones. :)

While obviously not as common as it was, say, 30+ years ago, it's not the like every industry lends itself well to highly-nomadic careers.


Brandon | Facebook

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Monday, March 4, 2013 11:23 AM
Fun's avatar

Within the amusement industry, I'd say it's not that uncommon. Jeff is right however, today's college graduates are job hoppers:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2012/08/14/job-hopping-is...nightmare/

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Monday, March 4, 2013 11:29 AM
rollergator's avatar

Almost every one of the people I know who are "successful" in their careers do the job-hopping thing. It's extremely rare to find an organization that would value the "institutional knowledge" acquired over many years in this age of mergers, acquisitions, and the next quarterly earnings report.

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Monday, March 4, 2013 11:51 AM

A big part of the surge in "job hoppers" comes from the fact that so many companies hire only contractors these days. Which, in reality, are simply temp workers.

It's not that "job hoppers" have figured out the universal secret to professional success. It's simply that in many cases they're far cheaper than permanent employees.


Brandon | Facebook

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Monday, March 4, 2013 1:05 PM
Jason Hammond's avatar

Melinda is an amazing person and will be missed by many. I wish I knew when I saw her last year. I would have given her a hug. :-)


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Monday, March 4, 2013 1:13 PM
LostKause's avatar

I find staying with the same employer that long to be very impressive!

I am pretty interested to see if the park stays within the same "Not as bad as the other SF parks" ranking now that another person is taking over as park President.


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Monday, March 4, 2013 2:31 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

*sigh*

On topic, Good for her. I think I met her at SpringFling once. Can't wait to get to the park in a few weeks.


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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Monday, March 4, 2013 5:37 PM

From the headline, I thought the park itself was retiring from the chain. I was thinking "oh cool, free pop and good service now!" But seriously, good for Melinda, I hope she enjoys a well-deserved retirement.

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Monday, March 4, 2013 5:58 PM

I retired after 33 years with the same company and that seemed like 2 lifetimes. I cant imagine 45.
And Jeff is right, young people these days realize that to get ahead and make the most of a career they're going to have to make a switch or two. With most companies not offering pensions that people of my generation could count on and work toward there's not much incentive to stay.
45 years in a management position at Six Flags might be unheard of! I've heard over the years that they were notorious for treating managers poorly.
I don't know anything about Ms.Ashcraft's personal life, but you'd be hard pressed to find a female who started in 1967 that rose to and stayed at the top the way she did. It's somewhat different now, but most women wouldn't have been able to uproot themselves though six transfers all around the country like that. My hat goes off to her.

Last edited by RCMAC, Monday, March 4, 2013 6:00 PM
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013 10:20 AM
Jeff's avatar

She hasn't been a manager for 45 years, just with the company. SFOG was the second park after Texas, right? That's a long run, and amazing considering all of the ownership and management changes, not to mention the bankruptcy.


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

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013 12:07 PM

I met her at a coaster event. She was really sweet, kinda reminded me of my Mom, a boss lady who takes care of business!!!

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Saturday, March 9, 2013 6:55 PM

Technically, she hasn't worked at the same place. According to the article she has worked at SIX different SF parks.

Yes, it is the same parent company, but multiple positions at locations in Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Kentucky, California & Texas. That is much more geographical diversity than many job hoppers will experience.


This Isn't A Hospital--It's An Insane Asylum!

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Sunday, March 10, 2013 3:42 PM

I got to work with her in the mid '90s and she was a very cool lady. Very friendly but didn't put up with any crap.

Pretty sure she's one of the last of that generation. They called them "lifers" and they were people that started in a line position in the parks and worked their way up through management. There were quite a few of them up to the Time Warner days but many took golden handshakes when Premier came in. There's a couple of them left at the corporate level.

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