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The Hoffmann Family of Companies is making inroads into its fifth city in its fifth state. The Naples-based conglomerate announced its partnership Friday with an acquisition on Mackinac Island in Michigan.  

The Hoffmanns purchased into a partnership with the Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry that runs from the mainland to the island between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. The new season begins April 21 for Shepler’s Ferry, a family-owned business founded in 1945 by Capt. William H. Shepler of Mackinac. 

Mackinac becomes the fifth area in the fifth state for Hoffmann acquisitions. The family has extensive real estate holdings in Naples, Florida; Augusta, Missouri; Avon, Colorado; and Winnetka, Illinois. Hoffmann is under contract to purchase at least three more landmark buildings on Fifth Avenue South and additional agricultural land in Collier County. The Hoffmann Family of Companies has more than 30 businesses and parcels of real estate in the Naples area.  

A new retail store in downtown Naples soon will sell products made by the companies Hoffmann owns. For instance, items for sale will include Mitch’s Cookies, Stan’s Coffee, wine from Hoffmann wineries, clothing, Everblades tickets and hockey gear. Anything available from Hoffmann can be purchased at the 4,000-square-foot retail storefront in the former SunTrust bank office at 625 Fifth Ave. S. 

Taking pride in their family operations, that’s what mutually attracted Jerri and David Hoffmann along with sons Greg and Geoff to Shepler’s Ferry and its 77-year family history. “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.” 

The ferry operation joins Hoffmann’s growing fleet. The family owns and operates an additional nine family-oriented cruises and vessels throughout the United States, including the Naples Princess in Naples, 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 companies in the hospitality and entertainment segment, agriculture, professional services, golf, commercial real estate, manufacturing and distribution.  

“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 also will 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 said. 

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