End of an Era: Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry Sold After 77 Years
After spending 77 years shuttling vacationers to and from Michigan's Mackinac Island, the Shepler family is handing over the helm of their legendary ferry business.
A staple for millions heading to Mackinac Island, the Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, which has been operating as a family-owned business since the 1940s, is about a Pure Michigan as its island destination itself. According to the Detroit Free Press, as of Friday, March 18, 2022, the family no longer owns the business that bears its name.
According to reports, Chris Shepler announced to current employees and the public that Jerri and David Hoffmann, of the Hoffmann Family of Companies, will become majority owners of the company. The amount of the sale was undisclosed.
The Naples, Florida-based couple operates 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. It is reported he is actually the largest in Naples and noted as a self-made billionaire.
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Shepler President Chris Shelper, whose grandfather William Henry "Cap" Shepler started the ferry service 77 years ago with just one six-passenger boat, isn't completely stepping away from the business he grew up in.
"They're keeping everything the same, including the name. Nothing really is going to change from the guest perspective," Shepler told the Free Press. "I'm guaranteed three years to work for the company in my current role as president. There are options to stay on, but when I do walk out the door, it's my job to make it like I was never there. Seamless."
If you think the sale was due to slowing business or money, think again. According to reports, business is off the charts. Shepler's Ferry has a total of seven ferries shuttling about 650,000 passengers during the season, which is April to November, to Mackinac Island. According to Chris Shepler, annual income is in the tens of millions and has been growing steadily over the past five years.
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