The first family of commercial trucking
John “Jack” Mack made his family’s name synonymous with heavy-duty trucks. Mack was born in 1864 in Mount Cobb, Pennsylvania. He attended public schools until the age of 14 when he began working for the Erie Railroad, where he gained experience working with industrial machinery.
Mack quickly developed his mechanical skills, and later became an engineer on a steamer to Panama. When he returned home in 1890, Mack found work in a wagon building shop, which he purchased in 1893 along with his brother Augustus. John Mack had a desire to build the most durable and powerful heavy-duty trucks in the world, and spent the following years refining his designs for a large motorized vehicle. A third Mack brother, William, joined the company in 1894. He was one of 5 Mack brothers who would eventually join the family business. The brothers established the Mack Brother’s Company in 1900 and opened their first manufacturing plant in Brooklyn, New York.
The company delivered its first truck, the “Mack bus”, in 1900 to a sightseeing company. It was a 40-horsepower, 20-passenger vehicle which was operated in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for eight years and later converted to a truck. It accumulated over 1 million miles during its time in service. The company would later use a slogan in its advertisements saying “The first Mack was a bus and the first bus was a Mack.” By 1905, the business had outgrown the Brooklyn facility, and the brothers decided to relocate their operations to Allentown, Pennsylvania. Following the relocation, the company began manufacturing rail cars and locomotives in addition to trucks. In 1909 the Mack company produced the first engine-driven fire truck in the United States. After experiencing enormous growth, the Mack company entered into a merger arrangement with financier J.P. Morgan in 1911. John Mack would leave the company later that year along with his brother Joseph.
John Mack’s contributions helped spur the development of motorized commercial and industrial vehicles in the United States. His legacy was symbolized by the company’s 1907 motto: “Simplicity, Strength, Durability and Plenty of Reserve Horsepower.”