Musser Family Acquires Ferry Companies Servicing Mackinac Island

Arnold Freight Co. and Shepler’s Freight, both of which are based in St. Ignace, will consolidate and operate under the Arnold Freight Co. following the recent closure of an acquisition.
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The Senator
Arnold Freight Co. and Shepler’s Freight have been consolidated. Pictured is The Senator, formerly the Sacre Bleu. // Photo courtesy of Arnold Freight Co.

Arnold Freight Co. and Shepler’s Freight, both of which are based in St. Ignace, will consolidate and operate under the Arnold Freight Co. following the recent closure of an acquisition.

Dan Musser III, chairman of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and chair of the Mackinac Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, and his wife, Marlee Brown, announced that the acquisitions closed on Sept. 8 (Arnold) and 11 (Shepler’s). Musser will serve as company chairman, and Brown will be co-owner with CEO Veronica Dobrowolski, who has held leadership roles with Arnold since 2016. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Arnold Freight Co. has a long history in my family, dating back to when my grandfather purchased it back in the 1930s,” says Brown. “Paired with the long, successful history of the Shepler’s family, we are honored to bring Arnold Freight back into the Brown family to serve the Mackinac Island community once again.”

The acquisition of Shepler’s includes its flagship freight vessel, Sacre Bleu. The Sacre Bleu has a new look and new name – The Senator, in honor of Prentiss M. Brown, Brown’s grandfather. Arnold was christened the newest member of the fleet on Tuesday. The Senator will operate out of the city of Mackinac Island’s coal dock and will no longer overlap with passenger ferry service.

“While it has been an honor and privilege to have served the freight needs of our guests and the community of Mackinac Island since the spring of 1995, it is now time to move on,” says Chris Shepler, president of Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry. “This is a win-win for not only Arnold Freight, but Mackinac Island as well. The freight business is in good hands for many years to come.”

Dobrowolski has worked in the Mackinac Island transport and ferry business for more than 33 years and will continue to oversee and drive the daily operations. The combined company has 20 employees. Most have been with Arnold for more than 25 years.

“Bringing this critical utility function back under family and female ownership is a great benefit to the Mackinac Island community, as we’re consolidating operations to the coal dock, freeing up coveted space that serves our residents and guests at the passenger docks,” says Dobrowolski. “With this new leadership, guided by deep roots and history in Mackinac Island, we are thrilled to uphold and carry on the Arnold Freight tradition.”

Arnold has served the island and surrounding communities since 1878.

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