(Hershey, Pa., USA, Dec 15, 2011) – The Board of Directors of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company (HE&R) announced today that Ted J. Kleisner, Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board, has been elected Chairman of the Board. The position is effective January 1, 2012.
The Board also approved Kleisner’s succession plan, which outlines his planned retirement on December 31, 2012. Upon retirement next year, Kleisner will stand for re-election to the HE&R Board as an independent, non-executive Board member. Kleisner has been a member of the HE&R Board since 1996, and he and his wife plan to continue to reside in Hershey.
The succession plan identifies William F. Simpson, Jr., currently the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer, as the successor to the position of Chief Executive Officer upon Kleisner’s retirement. In a related Board action, Simpson was elected to the HE&R Board, effective immediately.
“I am so pleased that the Board has embraced Bill as the right person to succeed me as CEO of the company. It’s without question that Bill has all the right skills and intangible qualities to excel as the next Chief Executive Officer of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts,” Kleisner said. “We’d be hard pressed to find anyone who could match the depth and breadth of Bill’s experience in our industries. His comprehensive understanding of the businesses in which we operate will position us well for success.”
“I am honored and humbled by the faith that Ted and the rest of the Board have placed in me,” Simpson said. “My goal will always be for our company to keep our focus on our primary mission of employee and guest service, and to ensure our ongoing devotion to the legacy of our founder, Milton S. Hershey, as well as our mission to support the Milton Hershey School.”
Simpson has extensive resort experience and also spent eight years running HE&R’s entertainment operations. He began his career with HE&R in 1996 as the General Manager of the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center (now Hershey Lodge). He oversaw the extensive expansion of the Lodge in 1998 and guided that property to record years during his tenure.
He became Vice President of the Entertainment Group in April 2002 and oversaw the operation of the Hersheypark Entertainment Complex. During his tenure with the Entertainment Group, he guided the Park to achieve all-time records in its performance categories, while also achieving new levels of guest-satisfaction scores.
In April 2010 Simpson was promoted to Chief Operating Officer, then to the role of President in November 2010.
“Bill has both a history of success and a true enthusiasm for encouraging people to develop to their fullest potential,” Kleisner said. “He understands the significance of strong leadership and leadership development and the importance of putting the guest and the employee experience at the forefront of every decision.”
Prior to joining Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, Simpson was General Manager of the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Houston, Texas. Other key leadership positions were with the Williamsburg Inn, The Opryland Hotel and Hyatt Hotels Corporation.
Simpson has been an active member of hospitality and tourism trade organizations, including the Small and Independent Hotel Committee of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA). He also has been a member of the Certification Commission of AH&LA’s Education Institute, and he earned the degree of Certified Hotel Administrator and Certified Rooms Division Executive from AH&LA.
Simpson graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration/Hotel and Restaurant Management. He, his wife and their two children reside in Hershey.
ABOUT HERSHEY ENTERTAINMENT & RESORTS
Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and its subsidiaries own and/or operate the Hersheypark Entertainment Complex, Hersheypark Arena & Stadium, ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park, Hershey Bears AHL Hockey Club, Giant Center, The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge, Hershey Highmeadow Campground, Hershey Golf Collection, Hershey Nursery, and Hershey Laundry.