McKenzie Will Replace Billhimer At Hard Rock Biloxi

Joe Billhimer is leaving Hard Rock Biloxi. Billhimer was the company's president and general manager. He initially designed the downtown Biloxi casino. And in 2005, under Billhimer's leadership, it was about to open. But on the eve of its premiere, Katrina ripped Hard Rock apart.

After a long struggle to rebuild the property, and simultaneously get the company out of bankruptcy, Billhimer chose not to renew his Hard Rock contract. "I was very concerned about getting all of our local vendors paid, getting everybody rehired, getting the property open. We've done that," he said. "It's time to spend a little bit of time with the family and look at some other development opportunities. And remain a staunch advocate of the coast in our rebuilding."

Billhimer's being replaced by Duncan McKenzie. Ironically, several years ago, it was McKenzie who got replaced by Billhimer at Grand Casino Gulfport.

A news release announcing Hard Rock's administrative change says McKenzie's job is to take the resort to the top of the charts. McKenzie's most recent job was as a regional vice president for the Isle of Capri. He said he was glad to be back in the day-to-day operations of the casino industry. "This is a great market," the new Hard Rock president said. "I think this property is one of the pearls in this great market. And I'm very excited that I'm able to come here as the president and general manager."

On Monday, McKenzie and Billhimer were in the Hard Rock offices together. Billhimer will help his replacement transition over to Hard Rock. And he'll consult with the company on certain issues. After that, he'll focus on future development opportunities. "I've always seen opportunities on the coast. I think the coast market will one day rival the bigger markets in the country as far as a gaming destination," said Billhimer.