(WXYZ) — The Shepler family, owners of Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry, have sold the company after 77 years of ownership.
The company announced the sale to the Hoffmann Family of Companies and their sons on Friday morning. The Hoffmanns are based in Naples, Fla. and own nine family-oriented cruise vessels in the United States.
Sheplers was founded in 1945 by Captain William H. Shepler who first opened a snack shop to tourists at the time before adding a boat transportation service. The company has grown immensely and the family invested $13 million in upgrades since 2015, including new ferries launched in 2018 and 2020, and a dock expansion in 2019.
Shepler's President Chris Shepler said the move was right for his family and the company.
“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.”
Chris and his brother, Billy, who is the fleet captain, will continue to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the company and will 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.” Chris Shepler said. “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.”