The board of directors at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Co. has named William F. Simpson Jr. as its new CEO, effective Jan. 1.
Simpson replaces Ted Kleisner, who is retiring at the end of the year.
The succession plan was first announced last year, at which time Kleisner took on the role of board chairman.
Simpson has been serving as the company's president and COO. Kleisner will remain a member of the board, a role he has served in since 1996.
Simpson started at Hershey Entertainment in 1996 as the general manager of the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, which is now known as the Hershey Lodge.
In 2002, he became vice president of the entertainment group that oversees the operation of the Hersheypark Entertainment Complex. He guided the park to achieve all-time records in its performance categories and unprecedented levels of guest-satisfaction scores, the company said.
In April 2010, Simpson was promoted to COO, then president in November 2010. He joined the company's board in 2011.
"Bill's passion for encouraging people to develop to their highest potential is a quality that sets him apart from many other leaders," Kleisner said in a statement. "His 17 years of expertise and successful service to our company makes him the right person to take the organization into its next chapter."
Prior to joining the Derry Township company, Simpson was general manager of the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Houston, Texas.
"As a service-oriented company, we will continue to place our emphasis on employee and guest service," Simpson said. "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."
Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and its subsidiaries own and/or operate the Hersheypark Entertainment Complex, Hersheypark Arena, Hersheypark Stadium, ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park, the Hershey Bears, Giant Center, The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge, Hershey Highmeadow Campground, Hershey Golf Collection, Hershey Nursery and Hershey Laundry.