Train bandits and cowboy-dressed sweepers turned top-level management is apparently a familiar success story at Knott's Berry Farm.
Two recent promotions put Marty Keithley, a former train bandit, as general manager and Gregg Picon, a former sweeper, as vice president of West Coast operations of Cedar Fair
, Knott's parent company.
They are just two examples of Knott's ability to promote those who have worked through different roles and costumes through the years, employees said.
Many unknowingly launch their careers at Knott's and later realize the string of promotional opportunities, said Mike Gornik, director of park operations.
"All I wanted to do was buy a car … a 1969 Volkswagen (Dune) Buggy…I think I'm here about five cars later," said Gornik, who started as a sweeper 18 years ago.
Employees have respect for management like Keithley and Picon who have frontline experience and can still relate to their past, said Mark Haywood, Knott's manager of rides.
"It motivates others working here. I think there's a lot of pride here to watch each other move up the ranks," said Haywood, an employee of 30 years.