141 Years and Still Going Strong, E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co. Is the Oldest Black-Owned Business in the US
Founded by entrepreneur John T. Ward in 1881 in Columbus, Ohio, E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co. has withstood the test of time and continues to operate as the oldest Black-owned business in the United States.
However, the Ohio-based company started as a stop on the Underground Railroad where Ward transported enslaved people to the next safe house using two horses and a wagon.
The company was passed along to his son, William Ward, and then to his grandson Edgar Earl Ward in 1899. Eldon Ward, John’s great-grandson, would be the last of the Ward family to own the business in 1945, as he didn’t have any children of his own to leave the family company. Despite that, Brian Brooks, an entrepreneur and Eldon’s godson, would take over and eventually buy the firm from Eldon in April 2001.
Today, Brooks and his wife Dominique run the business together.
E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co. flourished after slavery was abolished, and has grown into one of the country’s most highly trusted moving companies.
As previously reported, E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co. was the first Black-owned agent to receive the 2021 NorthAmerican Van Lines Agent of the Year Award.
The NorthAmerican Van Lines Agent of the Year honor is awarded to the agent that receives the best overall scores in service quality, hauling growth, sales growth, and safety performance, demonstrating the “Power of Blue” by supporting fellow agents and customers.
Having survived the Jim Crow South, the Reconstruction Era, the civil rights movement and currently a pandemic, the moving company has expanded its operations to the Carolinas with new offices in Charlotte and Raleigh.
“[E.E Ward] has been through the Civil War, the Great Depression, two world wars, the Great Recession, and 27 presidential terms, and never closed its doors,” Dominique told Finurah. “That’s an incredible story, and I think people can sit there and say, ‘Hmm, I can draw inspiration from that.’”
She continued, “We all can draw inspiration from [Ward’s] legacy of perseverance.”