This spring our very own CEO and Founder, Jesse Baker was honored with the 40 Under 40 award from Puget Sound Business Journal. We’re honored and delighted with the success it shines on JET, and of course for our ever-so-humble leader and OG Innkeeper–Jesse Baker. Coming from nothing as a young kid to creating an emerging alternative hospitality empire–Mr. Baker brings an imaginative perspective, an ‘anything is possible’ attitude, and a relentless drive to his projects. It is the backbone of the creative business model and company culture of JET Hospitality. It’s also a huge part of his personal ethos. But where did it all begin?
Always the entrepreneur. At just 7 years old, Jesse was filling out carbon paper invoices for yard work jobs in his neighborhood, while his dad did body repair in an industrial complex. Quickly upgrading his small toolbox, Jesse started cleaning the baskets at the kayak shop. Shortly after securing his first gig, he then hung around a jewelry maker and ended up getting a job sanding an older man’s Jeep for $5 an hour. As they say “If you hang around the barbershop long enough, you’ll eventually get a haircut.” And it’s safe to say that Jesse finally got his cut. When Jesse moved to Wisconsin, he started doing landscaping jobs for surrounding neighbors. He called his new found business “Outdoor Attractions.” He was in the third grade. “I started young because I had to. We were really poor.”
Fast forward to adulthood, Jesse earned an athletic scholarship, worked hard through school, grinded the corporate towers, cut his teeth in the startup world, and showed the grit and tenacity needed to make it as a thriving serial entrepreneur in the Puget Sound region. His credentials include founding three startups with multi-million-dollar valuations over the past 5+ years, and now leading one of the fastest-growing hotel and lifestyle brands in the nation, JET Hospitality. Jesse’s Midwest roots and humble background translate to a balance and perspective he brings to the group of 40 Under 40 honorees, a testament to his Cornell Ivy-League pedigree, boardroom and startup chops, and always-budding entrepreneurial spirit.
It is remarkable to know that Jesse Baker was able to forge ahead and define a successful path amongst adversity. It is even more impressive that he was able to forge an entire new industry and business model, Lifestyle Lodging. This perfect mesh of unique guest accommodations–glamping, tiny homes, lodge, and classic RV/OG camping–and the natural beauty of the surrounding elements creating the secret sauce known as JET Hospitality. It’s a one of a kind business model with heart.
Under Mr. Baker’s leadership and a few trusted buddies, Seattle-based JET Hospitality has grown from one to six resorts over the past 18 months, with locations across Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Bryan Walters, former Super Bowl champ for the Seahawks and former college teammate to our very own CEO’ decided to collab with real estate development, having property in Ocean Shores and another in West Seattle. JET's COO is even Baker’s college roommate, Aaron Mumford; making both of these men lieutenants that help JET Hospitality the powerful brand it is today.
JET Hospitality has orchestrated many impressive feats in hospitality and start-up; finding their foothold in the industry during the onset and continued progression of the COVID-19 pandemic. They positively leveraged the situation by bravely acquiring motels, RV parks, and other properties near recreational attractions, such as the Teton Mountains and Washington's Lake Roosevelt. Jesse even invested his own money to renovate Pacific Dunes Resort at Copalis Beach, Washington, while also building out a real estate development company in Seattle. Boldly going is just how Jesse Baker, and JET Hospitality, do business.
That’s also how we lift up their community and give back. Boldly. JET Hospitality looks for opportunities to support growth in their human community through leadership at every opportunity. The company has created 30+ jobs across its six locations and continually re-invests its profits back into improving the community through its people. They also boast a 20% Veteran workforce spearheaded by Mr. Baker, whose belief in hiring Veterans stems from his mother’s service in the National Guard during the Iraq War. Outside of the diverse hiring philosophy, Jesse is also the creator of JET’s competitive initiative to drive a decentralized management system and foster a culture of self-empowerment and strategic thinking.
As JET and Jesse reflect upon life wins, the path we continue to forge, and this momentous achievement with Pudget Sound Business Journal, it’s important to give thanks to those that lift us up, and remember where it all began. Jesse is especially thankful for the support of his team, and love of his wife Danie and darling daughter. 40 under 40 for the for the Seattle region is an amazing accomplishment; but growing doesn’t mean neglecting what has shaped us or given him a competitive and nimble edge. Jesse routinely visits each property and even works as an Innkeeper himself at least one week out of the year to remain close to the front lines and his roots. He would never ask an employee to do a job he wouldn’t do. As he can famously be quoted, “I am the Innkeeper.”