That is how Dick Kinzel, retired chief executive officer and president of Cedar Fair, recalls his old friend and colleague, John Hildebrandt.
For most of his time at Cedar Point, Hildebrandt was in marketing, helping write Kinzel’s messages, reports and press releases. “He put my thoughts into words that passed the King’s English,” Kinzel said. “I am grateful to John for that.”
He trusted Hildebrandt implicitly, Kinzel said.
Hildebrandt, Cedar Point’s general manager, is retiring at the end of the year.
The two men started to work closely together when the Gemini coaster was built in 1978.
Kinzel, who was then the director of operations, recalled the opening day for Gemini, when then- Gov. James Rhodes was to make an appearance.
“I was at the Gemini platform sweeping, and I look up to see a mass of people walking down the midway, led by John. It was the governor, and he was an hour early. I was the only one there,” Kinzel said laughing. “John leaned in to me and said, ‘You are now the official representative of Cedar Point.’”
When Kinzel became Cedar Fair’s CEO, Hildebrandt gave him another piece of advice.
“He told me, ‘You are the face of Cedar Fair. What you say is very important,’” Kinzel said.
When a general manager position opened to run Dorney Park in Pennsylvania, Kinzel knew Hildebrandt was the right choice even though he was vital in his role at Cedar Point.
“And then he was the logical choice when the position at Cedar Point opened up,” Kinzel said. “He knew the park better than anyone.”
Hildebrandt was key in promoting Cedar Point and Cedar Fair as the organization acquired one park after another, growing into an internationally recognized $1 billion amusement park/resort getaway destination company.
“John and I were in the right place at the right time,” Kinzel said. “As we made acquisitions, especially Paramount, he was instrumental working with me and the planning committee. He worked on getting the message out to the public and the shareholders.”
Kinzel said he hopes, with Hildebrandt now retiring, the two can spend personal time together.
“He is a great family man, loves his wife, Marie, and he loves Cedar Point,” Kinzel said. “He is just a great guy. The guy you want to be your friend.”