ONAWAY — The newest addition to the Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry fleet, the $3.8 million, 85-foot Miss Margy, is under construction at Moran Iron Works.
Bill Shepler, CEO of Shepler’s, and Tom Moran, CEO and founder of Moran Iron Works, announced the project last month, when pre-production work started.
“This is a big, precedent-setting job for us and we want to make sure we construct a vessel that the Shepler family and the state of Michigan can be proud of,” Moran said.
Employing a crew of 13, construction will require some 8,700 hours on the shop floor over the next four months. The all-aluminum, 281-passenger ferry – named after Shepler’s mother – is Shepler’s largest and will have a top speed of about 40 miles per hour. Scheduled to carry its first passengers in July 2015, it will include an air-conditioned cabin, as well as a ventilation system to remove interior condensation from windows, improving the view for passengers during inclement weather.
A third-generation family business, Shepler’s is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. The company currently has a fleet of five passenger ferries and one cargo vessel. “We’ve come a long way since my father launched this business with one speed boat,” Shepler said.