With his seafaring wanderlust
sated, Mack and his brother Augustus purchased a small carriage
and wagon building firm in Brooklyn in 1893. It was not a good
time to start a business as the country was gripped by economic
depression and the Macks filled few orders. They did, however,
establish a reputation as first class repairmen for wagons.
Jack and Augustus began
experimenting with the new self-propelled vehicles that were
beginning to sputter around big city streets. Many of their early
failed creations ended up in the East River as fish-breeding
environments. In 1900, after eight years of work, the first
hand-crafted Mack motor vehicle was ready.
Powered by a Mack
four-cylinder engine, utilizing a cone-type clutch and 3-speed
transmission the first vehicle was actually a bus designed to
carry 20 sightseers through Brooklyn's Prospect Park. It was the
first successful bus in the United States. The inaugural Mack was
so rugged it served for 8 years in the park and then was converted
into a truck and retired 17 years later with one million miles
The prototype "Old Number
One" was so successful that other orders soon followed. The Mack's
three other brothers joined in the formation of the Mack Brothers
Company in the State of New York with $35,000 in working capital.
By 1905 they had outgrown their Brooklyn facility and moved home
to Allentown, Pennsylvania as the Mack Brothers Motor Car Company
with Jack Mack as its driving force.
But Jack Mack had no
intention of building motor cars. He pioneered the design and
manufacture of custom-built trucks using durable Mack-built
components, not discarded car parts. Very early on he devised the
seat-over-engine trucks which were the forerunners of modern cabs.
The trucks could haul a capacity of 7 1/2 tons. Mack also turned
out fire engines, railroad cars, and buses.
By 1911 Mack was the premier
manufacturer of heavy duty trucks, making 600 units a year. He
needed more money to expand and financier J.P. Morgan organized
the merger of the Mack Company with the Saurer Motor Company to
form the International Motor Company.
The company would eventually
drop its other lines and revert back to Mack Trucks but Jack Mack
would be gone by then. Unhappy with the changes in top management
of the new company, he and three of his brothers disassociated
themselves from the new combine. Mack's name would live on for it
was his leadership and ingenuity that had been instrumental in
establishing Mack's legendary toughness. Jack Mack was the first
to "build 'em like a Mack truck."