Zimmerman to succeed Ouimet as CEO of Cedar Fair in 2018

Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2017 9:13 AM | Contributed by Jeff

From the press release:

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, today announced that Richard Zimmerman, its president and chief operating officer, will succeed Matt Ouimet as chief executive officer effective January 1, 2018. On the same date, Ouimet will take the newly created role of executive chairman of the board of directors and Debra Smithart-Oglesby will become lead independent director. As part of this process, Zimmerman will also be added to the board of directors during the 2018 annual meeting period. These changes are designed to ensure continuity in leadership as the Company pursues its ongoing strategy of investing in broadening entertainment offerings and new attractions to create greater excitement for guests, and positioning itself to produce strong results for many years to come.

"I have very much appreciated the opportunity to serve as the CEO of Cedar Fair and I am proud of what our team has accomplished," said Ouimet. "The market value of Cedar Fair has increased by more than $2.6B during my time at the company. This performance provides us with a solid foundation to build upon and a positive outlook for the future. Richard is a perfect choice to succeed me as CEO and I look forward to continuing to partner with him as the executive chairman going forward."

Zimmerman, age 57, has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality and leisure entertainment industry. He became president of Cedar Fair in 2016, having been named COO in 2011 after serving as an executive vice president since 2007. He also served as vice president and general manager of the Kings Dominion amusement park beginning in 1998. Prior to entering the amusement park industry, Zimmerman served in various financial and strategic planning roles with Paramount Communications, Inc.

"Richard has the skills and experience required to lead the company forward," Ouimet stated. "He has been a great thought partner to me and has made major contributions to our strong performance, including being a key driver behind such successful initiatives as Fast Lane, season passes and our all-season dining and beverage programs."

"Having the opportunity to lead Cedar Fair is a distinct yet humbling honor," said Zimmerman. "We are fortunate to have an exceptional organization with a deep and talented leadership team. We are also fortunate to be a leader in an industry that continues to have the potential to grow and expand. I look forward to the opportunity to continue broadening our offerings to better serve our guests, as well as providing long-term value for our investors."

In conjunction with Ouimet's move to executive chairman of the board of directors, the Company also noted effective January 1, 2018, Eric Affeldt will transition from his role as chairman of the board but will continue to serve as a director. Since joining the board in 2010 and assuming the chairman role in 2012, Affeldt has overseen improvements in Cedar Fair's corporate strategy and governance standards, increased board diversity, improved alignment of executive compensation with unitholder interests, and supported enhanced investor relations. He also led the development of the senior leadership succession plan the Company is announcing today.

"We are fortunate to have someone with Debra's skills and board experience to take on the role of lead independent director," said Affeldt. "Debra has been a valuable voice in all of our deliberations and will be an even greater asset in her new role as lead independent director."

Read more from Cedar Fair.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 9:50 AM
Tekwardo's avatar

Interesting. I'm glad Matt is staying on the board, that means that he'll continue to be involved, and I like what he has done with the company thus far.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017 10:19 AM
Jeff's avatar

It's been a total transformation under his leadership. Obviously I've been professionally infatuated with the guy ever since meeting him in 2012, because you get smarter just by talking to him. His career advice has been excellent and it changed my world view.

I'm not entirely surprised that he's vacating the top spot. I could never quite get a read on what motivates him, but his advice to me always implied a sense of perspective about where work fits in life, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's achieved what he wanted with the income to go along. I can relate to that.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 11:01 AM

I think his leadership for Cedar Fair has been nothing but outstanding. It will be interesting to see what the new CEO's vision for CF will be.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 12:46 PM
Jeff's avatar

Probably exactly the same. He's been Ouimet's right-hand man from the start.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 2:47 PM
janfrederick's avatar

I'd like to think that guest experience starts at the very top and works its way down to the rank and file. If that is the case, he has done a great job at the helm. I think Knott's Berry Farm has never been better. Seems like the management gets its customers. At least me and my family.

"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
Wednesday, October 4, 2017 6:06 PM

I'll agree, Ouimet has been a fantastic leader with Cedar Fair parks. He has certainly changed the entire environment to the park's.

I'm not sure of who Mr. Zimmerman is so I have no prejudgement for him now, however hopefully he continues to lead the company in a positive matter.

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