Shepler’s Mackinac Island ferry sold to Florida company


Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry today announced its partnership with the Hoffmanns of the Hoffmann family of companies and their sons, as part of an initiative to ensure the business continues its family legacy and meets the demands of its customers and Mackinac Island’s booming tourism industry. far in the future.

Like the Sheplers, Jerri and David Hoffmann as well as Greg and Geoff take pride in their family operations. The partnership of the two families is the first example in Shepler’s distinguished 77-year history that the company has sought additions to the business. “Now at this point, this move was good for the Shepler family and our business,” said Shepler President Chris Shepler.

“We have been approached many times by potential partners, but never before have we connected both personally and professionally with a family who identify so closely with Shepler’s commitment to first class service. for every guest, every day,” Shepler said.

The Naples, Florida-based Hoffmann family of companies owns and operates nine other cruise and family ships across the United States, such as the Naples Princess in Naples, Florida. The Miss Augusta in Missouri Wine Country and the Volunteer Princess in Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to their boats, the family also owns a number of businesses in hospitality and entertainment, agriculture, professional services, golf, commercial real estate, manufacturing and the distribution.

“We are proud to partner with successful businesses where we can add value, not reinvent the wheel,” said founder David Hoffmann. “Mackinac Island is a special place for us that we’ve been to often, and the Mackinac Island Ferry from Shepler is a unique part of the magical journey to Michigan’s crown jewel. We want to be part of Shepler and continue to do what they do best.

Shepler and his brother Billy Shepler, who is captain of the fleet, will continue to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. They will also remain partial owners. “Under the new partnership, the company’s current name and branding will remain the same. Additionally, all cast members will retain their positions. Shepler added.

Shepler’s has invested more than $13 million in upgrades since 2015 to ensure people traveling to the island have the best possible experience, Shepler said, adding more is likely needed to keep up with demand. Recent investments include:

$4 million William Richard (new ferry launched in 2020)

$3.8 million Miss Margy (new ferry launched in 2018)

$3.4 million Mackinac Island wharf expansion (2019)

$2 million parking lot in Mackinaw City

“My brother and I will eventually retire one day, and we have aligned ourselves with a partner who is committed to ensuring the continued existence of the Shepler legacy while remaining true to our enduring commitment to serving future generations of visitors. of Mackinac Island.”

“As part of the new partnership, we now have a like-minded family that is ready to continue making capital investments,” Shepler said. “This means that when upgrades or improvements are needed or equipment needs to be repaired or purchased as tourism in the region expands, capital will be easier to access. This is the best way to ensure the financial security and solidity of the company for many years.

Although the pandemic initially put a damper on tourism to Mackinac Island, visits to the island have steadily increased. Historically, more than one million people visit the island each year, with visitor estimates for 2021 breaking the previous record from 2019. Mackinac Island was named the nation’s most popular summer destination in 2018 by travel site TripAdvisor, and hotel room revenue grew 66% between 2011 and 2018.

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry celebrated its 77th season which began in April 2021. Bill Shepler’s father, Captain William H. Shepler, opened a snack bar for Mackinaw City tourists for the first time in 1945, and quickly saw the potential of transporting them to Mackinac Island via speedboat. Today, Shepler’s carries more people daily than any other line during the summer season. Shepler’s 78th season is set to debut on April 21, 2022.

For more information on the Hoffmann family of companies, please visit


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