The CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment (HFEC), Joel Manby, will depart the company to assume the same position at Seaworld Entertainment Inc. on April 7. An official bio of Joel Manby and more information is available here.
Joel Manby took over operations of HFEC in 2003, while the chain was about to open Celebration City. Manby ultimately pulled the plug on Celebration city after an up-and-down 5-year run, but during his tenure as CEO HFEC’s properties increased from 6 to 26 and the company’s revenue more than doubled. Manby is highly celebrated for his character and success in his endeavors, and was featured on the show Undercover Boss back in 2010.
Manby is not the first CEO from outside the Herschend family itself, but he has undoubtedly been the most successful. One thing is certainly significant about the way Manby managed the company: he met regularly with members of the Herschend family and was supported in earnest by Jack and Pete Herschend. Last year Forbes published a special article detailing the relationship between Manby and the Herschend family, among other interesting aspects of the business, which can be found here.
Replacing Manby will be no easy task. HFEC has grown significantly in a short amount of time, and that growth is not set to stop anytime soon. The company is in the midst of investing a whopping $300 million into Dollywood in Tennessee in order to turn it into a national destination. The chain has also played at potentially purchasing more parks in the recent past, such as Darien Lake in New York. Additionally, company has also recently been rapidly branching out into aquariums, resorts, and special attractions such as the Harlem Globetrotters.
With all this momentous growth, there is no denying that choosing the right CEO to take up the reins will be absolutely critical for HFEC.