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Naples firm buys Michigan ferry company, increasing fleet to 46 ships

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 12:50 p.m. July 1, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Mackinac Island Ferry Co. was founded in the late 1970s.
Mackinac Island Ferry Co. was founded in the late 1970s.
Image via Mackinac Island Ferry Company Star Line / Facebook
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The Hoffmann Family of Cos. is continuing its Midwest buying spree with the purchase of a ferry service that increases its fleet to 46 ships in seven states and expands its holdings in Michigan.

The latest buy is the Mackinac Island Ferry Co., which serves Mackinac Island between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Naples-based Hoffmann says in a news release that with this purchase it now owns more than 116 parcels of land, 51 buildings and 6,500 parking spaces in the region.

That includes docks in Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island and St. Ignace, which all sit on the Straits of Mackinac, a body of water that connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. And it includes two newspapers: St. Ignace News and the Mackinac Island Town Crier.

In all, the company says it employs 500 people in the region.

According to the ferry company’s website it was founded in the late 1970s as the Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Co.

In the statement and on the website, it says that Mackinac Island Ferry rebranded in 2022 to consolidate its assets: the Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry fleet from the 1970s; the Arnold Line Ferry fleet which had been operational since 1878; and the Mackinac Marine Services shipyard established in 2019.

Today it operates a fleet of 11 ships.

Hoffmann announced last month that it had bought Sip n’ Sail Cruises, a company that offers trips and private charters around Mackinac Island. Sip n’ Sail had two ships: the 81-foot Isle Royale Queen III and the 55-foot Robin.

A few days before announcing that purchase, Hoffmann won a bankruptcy auction to buy Oberweis Dairy, paying $21.5 million for the 97-year-old Chicago area dairy company.

Hoffmann owns more than 100 national brands and employs 9,000 employees with businesses located in 30 countries, according to the statement.

Its marine division now owns 14 companies, including ones in Knoxville, Tennessee; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Augusta, Missouri; and Naples.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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