Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, a leading provider of stewardship and hospitality in special places, has named Therrin Protze chief operating officer (COO) of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Protze will oversee all aspects of Delaware North's operation of the Visitor Complex, which it has done on behalf of NASA since 1995. The popular Florida destination, only 45 minutes east of Orlando, welcomes visitors who come to tour Kennedy Space Center, see rocket launches and experience such attractions as the new $100 million Space Shuttle Atlantis, Apollo/Saturn V Center, Shuttle Launch Experience and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Since joining Delaware North in 2006, Protze has helped oversee the company's successful and growing gaming and entertainment division, most recently serving as president and general manager of one of its largest gaming venues, Jumer's Casino and Hotel in Rock Island, Ill.
"Therrin brings extensive executive experience in the highly competitive gaming industry, where guest service and the guest experience are the top priority," said Rick Abramson, president of Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, who once served as COO for the Visitor Complex.
"Giving guests a fantastic experience at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and knowing how to promote that to regional, national and international audiences is crucial in the competitive Central Florida tourism market. I'm confident Therrin can work closely with NASA and lead the Visitor Complex to new heights with the magnificent Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction," Abramson said.
Protze said he looks forward to the challenge of guiding a unique destination where guests can explore like they're at a museum, learn like they're at a science center, and have fun like they're at a theme park.
"Kennedy Space Center is an inspirational place, so I'm excited to work with NASA and Delaware North's team there to build an even better destination for the entire world to explore the wonders of space here on Earth," Protze said. "We will work hard to enhance the entire visitor experience, from the exhibits to the food, and strengthen everything we do from a customer service standpoint with Delaware North's GuestPath program."
Jumer's won three GuestPath awards in 2013 under Protze's leadership. In addition, Protze has overseen Jumer's successful marketing program to keep the gaming venue ahead of its competitors in the Quad Cities region market while maintaining the top three years of profitability in the history of the operation.
Protze also oversaw a strong team effort at Jumer's to implement Delaware North's award-winning environmental program, GreenPath, resulting in Jumer's achieving ISO 14001 certification of its environmental management system in 2012.
Before heading Jumer's, Protze served as vice president of gaming operations for Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment at the company's global headquarters in Buffalo, N.Y. In all, Protze has more than 25 years of experience in the gaming industry and has held executive positions in many facets of gaming operations, including slots, table games, food and beverage, security, marketing and construction. He worked for Harrah's, Trump and Barden Companies before joining Delaware North.
Before entering the gaming industry, Protze spent eight years in the United States Marine Corps, where he rose to the rank of sergeant and had multiple leadership responsibilities. In addition, Protze has completed significant coursework toward an anticipated bachelor's degree from the State University of New York's Empire State College.
Protze has been heavily involved in serving and supporting community organizations in the locations where he has lived and worked, most recently in Rock Island, Ill. He participates on seven community boards, and under his leadership, Jumer's in 2012 was honored as "Business Citizen of the Year" by the Rock Island City Council for the first time in the operation's 21-year history.