In this episode, we hear the story of a seventy year old family business in Northern Michigan. My guest, Chris Shepler, is part of the third generation of Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry Service and today serves at the helm as President.
Chris shares what it was like growing on the docks, his coming of age adventure leaving the business to pursue his dreams as a professional sailor, and how his family came together to fight for their business when it mattered most. Through it all, Chris has worked to establish his own identity in a small town and carry on his family’s tradition.
Topics discussed in this episode:
- About Chris Shepler (2:10)
- From ferry boat to America’s Cup (3:46)
- The magic of Mackinac Island (10:15)
- The book and the legal battle (13:33)
- “We’re finished” (27:43)
- The turnaround point (30:39)
- About the previous generations (33:20)
- Guest experience trumps all (38:25)
- Grandfather’s passing, “Flowers on the Water” (40:10)
- Creating your own identity (44:33)
- The makeup of good family business owner (51:35)
- Shark tank pitch family edition (1:03:08)
- How to get in touch with Chris (1:07:58)
- Bonus questions (1:09:04)
Notable & Quotable:
Once we decided to put up our dukes and fight for our business, it was the biggest bonding experience for our family. Nothing else mattered. —Chris Shepler #successfulgenerations
Competition is good in sport and in business. Competition keeps everyone honest. —Chris Shepler #successfulgenerations
My grandfather had the idea to run a ferry boat service that offered red carpet service and my dad built it… But my mom is the glue that held our family and our business together. —Chris Shepler #successfulgenerations
How you navigate through following your dreams provides you a foundation for being a good leader. It develops your entrepreneurial spirit and makes you a visionary. —Chris Shepler #successfulgenerations
When I leave this company I want to know it is set up well to carry on for the next 75 years without me. —Chris Shepler #successfulgenerations
We have one rule: Don’t come into a meeting halfway through and bring us back to the start.—Chris Shepler #successfulgenerations
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Don’t risk missing out on any of the fun that is to come.
Want more of Successful Generations? Check out a few of our other awesome episodes:
Have a topic suggestion?
If you are the next generation of family business, philanthropy and wealth, and have a topic you think we should discuss, let us know at Ellie@successfulgenerations.com.