CEO of Darien Lake's Parent Company Visits Theme Park
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"What kind of leader do I want to be? The way we measure that is through leading with love."
Joel Manby, CEO of Herschend Entertainment, is on a swing through the many theme parks he oversees, promoting his new book, "Love Works."
"There's very practical advice for any reader: how to apply these principles in their home life, but mostly in their work life."
Principles that Manby says he's learned working as CEO for Herschend, which owns Darien Lake Theme Park. We sat down with Manby on Monday to discuss the park as a continuing economic engine for Western New York.
"We like regional parks that draw from about 100-mile, 200-mile radius,” Manby said. “We want to be number one or two in any market we're in, which actually is much easier in a market like this."
"In general, I think the theme park business is going to survive the recession just fine, because the last thing people want to cut is their vacation,” he said.
Manby also touched on the issues surrounding Darien Lake since Herschend took it over; most notably, last year's tragedy on the "Ride of Steel" rollercoaster, when an Iraq War veteran and double-amputee fell from the coaster to his death.
"That was a horrific experience that none of us ever want to live through again. I mean, the death of a customer is the worst possible experience you can have in this business. I can say with 100-percent definity, that incident could never happen again, with the procedures we've put in place."
We also briefly tackled another recent headline surrounding the Darien Lake concert venue: the park's recent decision to cut-off concert access from neighboring private parking lots.
"It's definitely part of our strategy as a company, to create a family environment that parents should feel very comfortable sending their kids to. And were not where we need to be, but we're making some very proactive changes to try to crack down on underage drinking."
And with regard to the vocal opposition from the neighboring parking lots:
"We believe in being a good neighbor, and we always try to be; on the other hand, our first responsibility is to create a safe environment. We can't 'give' on that."
Manby remains in town for the current "Kingdom Bound" festival, before continuing his book tour later this week.