BUFFALO, N.Y. (Oct. 17, 2012)Delaware North Companies, a global leader in hospitality and food service, today announced strategic leadership changes as part of the company’s overall strategy for growth in North America and around the world.
The changes, announced by Delaware North Companies President and Chief Operating Officer Charles E. Moran, take effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Rick Abramson, president of Delaware North Companies Sportservice, will become president of Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts. In addition, Abramson will lead the company’s Australia and New Zealand operations – including overseeing its extensive sports venue, travel hospitality and luxury resort business – and pursue opportunities for growth in Asia and India, all in the new role of executive chairman of Delaware North Companies Australia and Asia.
Since becoming president of Sportservice in 2004, Abramson has led its growth into a more than $750 million food service and retail business by adding major professional sports clients at venues such as MetLife Stadium, Lambeau Field, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Target Field, and Bank of America Stadium. During his more than 40-year career with Delaware North, Abramson has also held leadership positions in the company’s Parks & Resorts division, including president of its Kennedy Space Center operations, and in the company’s Australian operations.
During his tenure as president and chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Abramson was awarded a NASA Public Service Medal, NASA’s highest achievement award for non-government employees. Abramson joined the ranks of some of the most respected members of the space program when he earned the Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award for his role in educating and inspiring the visitor complex’s millions of guests.
Prior to his position at Kennedy Space Center, Abramson served as Delaware North Companies’ chief executive officer of Australian Venue Services (AVS) in Melbourne, Australia. There, he worked with AVS Catering clients such as Melbourne Showgrounds, Sydney Entertainment Center and Royal Exhibition Buildings, the Melbourne Cup Race Australian Grand Prix and the Australian Tennis Open.
Before moving to Australia, Abramson served in various senior management positions for the company’s Sportservice operations – which took him far and wide from the Olympic Games to the World’s Fair.
John Wentzell, currently president of Delaware North Companies Boston and Delaware North Companies International, will take the helm as president of Sportservice. A veteran of the sports industry, Wentzell will lead the company’s growing portfolio of more than 50 venues throughout North America.
He will also spearhead the company’s diverse sports and travel hospitality businesses in the United Kingdom – including at such iconic locations as Wembley Stadium, Emirates Stadium and Heathrow Airport – as well as additional growth opportunities throughout Europe.
As president of Delaware North Companies Boston, Wentzell has had leadership responsibilities spanning the company-owned TD Garden, adjacent commercial real estate holdings and certain key sales and business functions of the NHL's Boston Bruins, owned by Delaware North Companies Chairman and CEO Jeremy Jacobs. That role, assumed in 2006, was expanded in 2011 to also include oversight of Delaware North's diverse international business portfolio across the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
During Wentzell's six-year tenure as president, the Boston business experienced record growth and results. Wentzell’s strategic vision for TD Garden also brought about significant improvements and reinvestment in expanded public spaces, fan amenities, technology and innovative premium seating products and services and earned the arena numerous industry accolades. The 19,600-seat TD Garden continues to be one of North America’s most active, highly regarded and successful venues.
In addition, Wentzell was instrumental in overseeing the company’s real estate holdings and led the commercial development strategy that has positioned the company’s real estate holdings for near-term development of a mixed-use project. Earlier this year, as part of that strategy, Wentzell also led the acquisition of the publicly-owned 1,200-space parking garage underneath TD Garden as well as the pending sale of one of the company's adjacent parcels and its residential development entitlements.
Wentzell joined Delaware North Companies Boston in 1996 as vice president of operations, continuing a diverse career in sports and entertainment that had included roles with arenas, major league sports franchises and mixed-use developments.
Amy Latimer recently assumed the post as the new president of TD Garden.
Kevin Kelly, currently president of Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, will move into a newly created role for Delaware North as vice president of shared services for the company’s global operations. Kelly will oversee enterprise-wide services – including retail, the Culinary and Hospitality Council, supply management services, facilities, corporate security and the GreenPath environmental management program.
Under Kelly’s leadership since 2005, the Parks & Resorts division has secured important contract extensions at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and Yosemite National Park, as well as recent National Park Service contracts at Olympic and Shenandoah national parks. In addition, Kelly led the successful acquisition of three hotels in West Yellowstone, Mont. Kelly also led the company’s newest additions to its hotel portfolio – Lizard Island, Heron Island, Wilson Island, El Questro and Kings Canyon in Australia. Under Kelly’s leadership, Delaware North was named as a top hotel management company and several of its properties have regularly been ranked in lists of the world’s best resorts and destinations.
Kelly joined Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts in 1996 as director of retail operations at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex before going on to serve as a regional vice president for the division and president of the company’s Yosemite National Park operations.
Jim Houser, currently vice president of administration for Delaware North Companies, will take on a new leadership role for Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts as chief operating officer. In this role, he will focus on providing leadership to both North American and Australian Parks & Resorts locations plus play a pivotal role in the company’s growth initiatives in Asia and India.
Houser brings a strong leadership record from his recent roles at Delaware North overseeing key enterprise-level areas such as construction, supply management, retail and food and beverage, as well as extensive operations experience from serving as chief operating officer for Sportservice.
“These management changes and our ability to share talent throughout our global enterprise are vitally important to our growth and long-term success,” Moran said. “Each of these individuals has an outstanding reputation as a key leader both within Delaware North and in our industry. I am confident that they will excel in these new roles.”
Moran said the company’s ability to look well into the future is a significant benefit of being a privately held, family-owned company.
“Publicly-traded companies must focus on the short term, whereas Delaware North has the ability to think longer term, especially related to its imperatives for growth. This is important because we expect our growth to continue to accelerate as we explore a growing spectrum of new and exciting opportunities, both organically and through acquisition around the world,” Moran said.
The company also announced that it is actively searching for a new chief operating officer for Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment and also a new general counsel. Current General Counsel Bryan Keller is taking on a new role as Senior Counsel – Vice President within Delaware North’s Law Department.
About Delaware North Companies
Delaware North Companies is one of the largest and most admired privately held hospitality companies in the world. Founded and owned by the Jacobs family for nearly 100 years, it is a global leader in hospitality and food service. Its family of companies includes Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment, Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality Services, Delaware North Companies Sportservice, Delaware North Companies International and Delaware North Companies Boston, owner of TD Garden. Delaware North Companies has revenue exceeding $2.6 billion annually and 55,000 associates serving half a billion customers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. For more information, visit www.DelawareNorth.com.
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Glen White
Director-Corp. Comm
Email: GAWhite@delawarenorth.com
Phone: 716-858-5753
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