Bavarian Inn Lodge brings together 600 years of family businesses


The Zehnder family, including Bavarian Inn co-founder Dorothy Zehnder, gather with multiple generations of the various family-owned businesses that have worked on the Bavarian Inn Lodge as the 6,000-pound roof was raised four stories to cap the Lodge’s new waterslide tower. Courtesy Bavarian Inn Lodge

When family owned and operated Bavarian Inn Lodge, located in Frankenmuth, capped off its new waterslide tower with a 6,000-pound roof earlier this month, the business was joined by six additional family owned firms for the celebration.

That’s because Bavarian Lodge takes its belief in working with family much further than most businesses, by regularly working with other family owned businesses.

Bavarian Inn, owned by members of the Zehnder family for all of its 84-year history, has hired several family owned businesses to help it complete a $3 million expansion project to its Family Fun Center.

Judy Zehnder-Keller, president of Bavarian Inn, said that the reason they often choose to work with other family owned businesses is because of a shared understanding and bond that helps to create an enhanced experience.

Zehnder-Keller explained that a family owned business comes with an increased sense of responsibility to make decisions for the future generations as well as a deep-rooted identity of not only representing the brand but, in essence, being the brand.

“I would like to think that we at Bavarian Inn are very, very protective of our brand,” she said. “We believe that quality, whether it be in the products that we serve or sell, whether it be in the quality of our facilities and all the relationships that we have with people, it is our personal reputation, we are Bavarian Inn. When you have family owned businesses like the people pictured in the photo they feel the same way. They are their brand.”

Multi-generational family businesses that have been involved in the renovation include:

  • R.C. Hendrick, founded in 1876 and currently run by William (Trace) Hendrick III, a member of the family’s fifth generation. The company also employs other families, including project manager Tony Leuenberger along with his father, Bruce, and brother, Brian.
  • Remer Plumbing and Heating, founded in 1957 by Richard Katz, is currently in its third generation with son Mark and grandson.
  • Wm. Bronner & Son Contractors, founded in 1883 by John Bronner and now operated by Ronald and his son Matt.
  • Nuechterlein Electric, founded in 1952 by Tom Erdman and is in its third generation with Nate and Andy at the helm.
  • Fox Excavation, founded in 1982 by Eric Fox, who is now in business with son Carl.
  • Baruzzini Pool, founded in 1951 by Don Baruzzini, who has been joined by sons Tony, Ted and Dominic.

“This expansion brings together the experience of nearly 600 years of multi-generational family businesses,” said Zehnder-Keller.

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