Member Profile: Mark Lansing of Jumpin' Jack's Drive-In, Scotia, New York

Date: May 03, 2016 Last Edit: May 05, 2016

After 49 years with the company, Mark Lansing knows how to keep Jumpin’ Jack’s traditional, simple and fun—the way it started over 60 years ago.

Member Profile: Mark Lansing of Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive In, Scotia, New York

Employees: 45 seasonal employees

“If it isn’t broke,
don’t fix it,” says Mark Lansing, owner of New York’s beloved 50’s-style
drive-in in upstate New York. The stand hasn’t changed much since its original
owner opened it in 1952—a few new buildings and more outdoor seating maybe, but
the old-fashioned, family-style feel is still what makes it a hotspot for
locals and tourists during the busy season.

 How did Jumpin’ Jack’s get started?

It
was started by Jack Brennan in 1952 as a small stand with two ice cream
machines for soft serve. Everybody told him he was crazy, that it wouldn’t fly,
but he paid his mortgage off in two years.

I
started working when I was in college, and then I went into the military for
four years. I got out of the military in 1970 and I’ve been here ever since. I
bought him out when he retired, and I’ve owned it since 1976. This is my 49th year with the
business.

What is the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

It’s
seeing the regular customers come in, down two or three generations of people
and their families, and they’re basically our family. We’re strictly a family
business, a basic 50’s drive in with minimal changes.

 How is it doing business in New York state?

Challenging.
We’re upstate so we haven’t really come out of the recession yet compared to
other parts of the country. It’s sometimes not a friendly state to do business
in, but we’ve been here long enough, so we’re survivors.

Taxes
keep going up, everything keeps going up including wages, and it’s hard, you
can’t just keep raising your prices all the time.

What is the biggest struggle or hurdle you face in owning your
own business?

These
new minimum wage laws—they just finish us. It’s tough on this type of business.
It makes it difficult for the people who’ve been here for ten years. If you
raise the minimum wage, you have to raise them proportionally because they’ve
been here for so many years. They’re the people who make this place stick
around. It’s a vicious circle.

That
and all the insurances that goes with it—medical insurance and liability, etc.
It’s a vicious circle, the cost of something goes up, and you have to pass it
on somewhere. It’s the way it’s always been.

 How are you involved with NFIB?

I’ve
been with them 15 years. NFIB brings awareness to people who don’t know what’s
going on. Because of NFIB, there’s more transparency. It keeps politicians a
little bit more honest, more accountable. 

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