HERSHEY, Penn.—The Board of Directors of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company (HE&R) announced that it has approved the appointment of William F. Simpson, Jr., as chief executive officer upon the retirement of its current CEO, Ted Kleisner, at the end of this year.
A year ago, HE&R announced its succession plan that identified Simpson, currently the company’s president & chief operating officer, as the successor to the position of CEO upon Kleisner’s retirement. Simpson will assume this new position, in addition to his current role as President, beginning January 1. Kleisner will remain a member of HE&R’s Board of Directors, a role he has served since 1996.
“The succession plan outlined a year ago has been successfully implemented and I am pleased to confirm the Board has ratified Bill’s appointment as CEO,” said Ted Kleisner, in an announcement. “Bill’s passion for encouraging people to develop to their highest potential is a quality that sets him apart from many other leaders. His 17 years of expertise and successful service to our company makes him the right person to take the organization into its next chapter.”
Simpson began his career at HE&R in 1996 as the general manager of 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.
In April 2002, he became vice president of the Entertainment Group overseeing the operation of Hersheypark Entertainment Complex. He guided the Park to achieve all-time records in its performance categories and unprecedented levels of guest-satisfaction scores. In April 2010, Simpson was promoted to chief operating officer, followed by the role of President in November 2010. He was appointed to the company’s Board of Directors in 2011.
Prior to joining Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, Simpson was general manager of the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Houston, Texas. He also held key leadership positions with the Williamsburg Inn, The Opryland Hotel, and Hyatt Hotels Corporation.
“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to lead this company – so intertwined with the history of Milton Hershey – and I am grateful for the faith that Ted and the rest of the Board has in my leadership,” Bill Simpson said. “As a service-oriented company, we will continue to place our emphasis on employee and guest service. But, truly, everything we do has to be looked at through the lens of how we are furthering the legacy of our founder and, specifically, positively impacting the Milton Hershey School.”
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 earned the degree of Certified Hotel Administrator and Certified Rooms Division Executive.