Westside entrepreneur founded local Pepsi-Cola company in 1930s
The story of Lane Sales, a family-owned Pepsi-Cola bottler/distributor in Colorado Springs, begins on the Westside.
Jim Lane, the son of business founder Ross Lane and the company's vice president of community affairs, led the presentation about his father and local Pepsi history before an audience of about 75 people at the Old Colorado City History Center Oct. 13. He was joined by marketing coordinator Yvonne Weeres. Commemorating Lane Sales' 70th anniversary, the talk included photos from the 1930s, when Ross Lane was just getting started.
In those days, “he worked out of his home,” said Jim Lane. He noted that at first Pepsi was just part of a wholesale business in which various items (chiefly candy and cigarettes) were trucked to stores as far east as Calhan and as far west as Fairplay. “His business was whatever he thought he could sell for a profit.”
Further elaboration on Ross Lane's early days comes from the October issue of the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) newsletter, West Word. In the lead article, “A Colorado Original,” Leland Feitz writes: “Ross, at age 27, arrived in Colorado Springs in 1932 during the Great Depression with little more than youthful ambition and faith in himself.”
In 1936, Lane and Elsie, his wife of two years, were living at 1637 W. Colorado Ave. when a Denver bottler began producing Pepsi-Cola. “He made a deal with them and bought 100 cases at a time and hauled them to Colorado Springs where it was sold along with his candy and tobacco products,” according to Feitz. Before long, the Pepsi-Cola company “awarded him the rights to bottle and sell the drink in El Paso and Teller counties,” Feitz' article continues.
The family moved to a bigger place at 1132 W. Kiowa St. the same year, although they were still working out of their house. “Mom and Dad lived upstairs and ran the business downstairs,” Jim Lane recalled. This was also when “a little bit” of bottling began, he added.
Over the next five years, the Pepsi portion of the business “outpaced the rest of the business,” Jim said. This led to another move, this time downtown, to a two-story commercial building at 115 W. Colorado Ave., “Dad finally had an office,” he said.
Just a small child then, Jim Lane recalls hanging out there with his sister and being told they were not allowed to play in the bottling area because of the heavy wood cases and the fact that “the glass bottles would blow up sometimes.”
By 1953, Ross Lane had sold all but the Pepsi part of the business and moved his plant to the 3600 block of North Stone Avenue. It remains there to this day. Lane Sales has expanded over the years, and also owns Pepsi plants in Tucson and Yuma, Ariz.; and Las Cruces, N.M.
Westside Pioneer article