By Al Zehnder, CEO of Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth
When my grandfather purchased this business in 1928, the family business also became the family home. My dad, and many of his brothers and sisters, lived in the various rooms on the second floor that now are offices of the company. My Uncle Leonard once quipped that during the Depression they didn’t want to face the reality of bankruptcy because not only would they lose the business, they would also lose their home.
Well their hard work and perseverance paid off and each successive generation has been charged with the responsibility of growing the family business. A natural topic of discussion in any family business is succession. Who will be the leadership team that takes Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth to that next level? We’ve made some changes at the very top, adding five individuals to our Board of Directors. Their main charge is to ensure the financial stability of the company and develop policy that supports our Mission, Vision, and Core Values.
Let me introduce them:
Doug Lemcke – started in the business as a dishwasher over 40 years ago. Doug held a variety of leadership positions in the company and is currently our General Manager at Zehnder’s Splash Village. Doug graduated from Northwood University; his wife Merri and family live in Frankenmuth. Although it feels like it because he’s been here so long, Doug is not a family member and continues the long standing tradition of non-family members on our Board.
Christopher Zehnder – Chris worked a variety of positions in the front and back of the house while going through high school. After graduating from Northwood University, Chris moved to Nashville and worked in the music industry and a regional restaurant chain. Upon his return, Chris worked in a variety of departments and currently provides leadership in our production area and online sales. Chris lives in Frankenmuth. Chris is my son.
Lauren Zehnder – Lauren also worked in a variety of areas of the company during her high school years. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, she moved to Nashville and worked for the Marriott organization and then a small marketing firm before returning to Frankenmuth where she resides. Lauren currently holds the position of Assistant General Manager at Zehnder’s Splash Village, and is currently enrolled in the Northwood University MBA program. Lauren is my daughter.
Nick Shelton – Nick as well held a variety of positions in the company as he was going through high school. After graduating from Valparaiso University with his Master’s, Nick joined the company. Since his return, he has been involved in our golf division and currently holds the title of Director of Golf. Nick and his wife Mary live in Frankenmuth. Nick is the son of John and Martha Shelton; Martha is my sister and CFO of the company and John, my brother-in-law; is our VP of Marketing and Sales.
Olivia Shelton – Olivia, like all of this generation, worked in a variety of positions while growing up. Olivia is a graduate of Central Michigan University. Upon her return to the company, Olivia joined our sales department and holds the title of Sales Manager. Olivia lives in Frankenmuth. Olivia’s parents are John and Martha Shelton our VP of Marketing and Sales and our CFO.
Please congratulate them when you see them. They are not only hard-working individuals but lead our company by the great example they set. I am proud of each of them.
Al Zehnder, CEO