COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — E.E. Ward Moving and Storage Company is celebrating a milestone birthday, 140 years since it was first started by founder John T. Ward.
Ward was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, transporting slaves to freedom with just two horses and a wagon. His work evolved after slavery, using those same skills to create E.E. Ward Moving and Storage Company in 1881.
"To carry on a legacy, it’s special," says Brian Brooks, co-owner and president. "It’s an honor, and not an everyday opportunity you get."
The company’s been passed down from generation to generation. Twenty years ago it landed in the hands of Brooks—the godson of the company’s namesake Edgar Earl Ward.
"Through all those generations there’s been a common legacy, a goal to service customers in the most high quality with attention and care," says Brooks.
The company is a vibrant part of Columbus history and the African American community. It's recognized as the oldest running black business in the nation.
"To have this kind of footprint in the community, to have this type of legacy it’s big in Columbus but it expands beyond that", says Brooks.
The company stays true to its mission even 140 years after its birth. From two horses and a wagon—it’s flourished into a fleet of trucks and two warehouses, one in Columbus, another in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"The story is great, the legacy is great, but we don’t get customers or opportunities unless we continue to do what’s right," says Brooks. "And that's being customer-focused and being the best at what we do."