Cedar Fair Entertainment Company 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.”