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The Story of a Family Business

Today I am in the Bahamas at Ensemble’s Annual Conference.

Doug Cooke

Weighing heavily on my mind was developing a topic for this issue’s Publisher’s Page. I went to listen to one of the keynote speakers, Kindra Hall, who spoke about marketing through storytelling. Storytelling is a method of engaging your clients (or in this case, readers) through the use of creative storytelling. I realized that, at a time when many of our competitors are large, corporately owned companies, our small family owned publishing company has a unique story to tell, and that story sets us apart. And so, I give you, The Story of JAX FAX.


JAX FAX Travel Marketing was founded in 1972 by my father, Clif Cooke. My Dad was a lifelong travel and aviation buff. As early as age 8, he was writing to airlines requesting their schedules under the auspices of “Cooke Travel Service.” As a teenager he was an aircraft spotter for the local National Defense Force. I found many of these airline schedules and aircraft spotter guides, along with scrapbooks he kept of his cutouts and drawings of aircraft, as I was recently cleaning out my parents’ attic. My Dad threw away nothing!


After attending Duke University for 4 years, my Dad spent 2 years in the Navy, on an aircraft carrier, of course. Upon leaving the Navy he pursued his lifelong dream of working in the airline industry and soon joined PanAm as a management trainee. He spend 11 years working for PanAm, followed by 7 years with TWA. (As a side note, he would have been thrilled to know that the iconic TWA terminal at JFK will reopen this spring as a hotel.) It was during his time at TWA that he conceived the notion of starting a business to promote the growing number of charter airlines and flights worldwide. In 1972, Jet Airtransport Exchange (JAX) was founded as a marketing/publishing company with the idea of connecting travel agents with this growing charter market. The company grew and changed over the years, but never lost its focus of bringing travel agents the information and tools they need to effectively sell travel. 


In 1992, after working in hotel sales, and as a travel agent myself for 5 years, I joined the family business. My Dad and I had the opportunity to work together daily, and travel the world for 9 years until he retired in 2001. I was truly blessed to have such a well-respected and knowledgeable man as my father and mentor for those years. I miss his guidance and vision. Since then, JAX FAX continues to be a family-run labor of love for myself and my staff, who are an extension of our family. And although publishing has gone through many changes and struggles over the years, JAX FAX remains true to the vision my Dad had 46 years ago, and is now his legacy.


In keeping with the family legacy of JAX FAX, my son Chris, who has written for us in the past, will dip his toe into the family business when he begins working on some digital marketing projects for us next month. I am sure my Dad would be pleased to know that the next generation of the Cooke family shares his passion for the travel industry.


Well that’s our story. It’s one of love, perseverence, and passion for travel and the travel industry. What’s your story? Your clients want to know.

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