A longtime staple of Mackinac Island transportation is changing hands.
Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, which has been operating as a family-owned business for more than 77 years, has been sold to another family. Shepler’s announced that the Hoffmanns of the Hoffmann Family of Companies will become majority owners of the company.
Jerri and David Hoffmann, reported billionaires, operate in the real estate and hospitality industry, including an additional nine family-oriented cruises and vessels throughout the United States such as the Naples Princess in Naples, Florida. “Now, at this point in time, this move was right for both the Shepler family and our company,” said Shepler’s President, Chris Shepler.
“We’ve been approached many times by potential partners, but never before have we connected both personally and professionally with a family that so closely identifies with Shepler’s commitment to first-class service for every guest, every day,” Shepler said.
“We pride ourselves on partnering with thriving companies where we can add value, not reinvent the wheel,” said founder, David Hoffmann. “Mackinac Island is a special place to us where we’ve visited often, and Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry is a unique part of the magical journey to Michigan’s crown jewel. We want to be part of Shepler’s continuing to do what it does best.”
Shepler and his brother Billy Shepler, who serves as fleet captain, will continue to be involved in the day-to-day operation of the company. They will also continue to be partial owners. “Under the new partnership, the current company name and branding will remain the same. Additionally, all cast members will retain their positions.” Shepler added.
“My brother and I will eventually retire someday, and we have aligned with a partner who is vested in ensuring the Shepler legacy lives on while remaining true to our enduring commitment to service for the next generations of Mackinac Island visitors.”
“Under the new partnership we now have a like minded family who is willing to continue to make capital investments,” Shepler said. “That means when upgrades or improvements are needed or equipment needs to be repaired or purchased as the region’s tourism grows, capital will be easier to access. This is the best route to guarantee financial security and strength for the company for many years to come.”
Bill Shepler’s father, Captain William H. Shepler, first opened a snack shop catering to Mackinaw City tourists in 1945.