E.E. Ward still growing, changing more than 130 years after its founding

In 1881, William S. Ward founded The Ward Transfer Line with a team of horses, a wagon, and two helpers.

Now known as E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co., it has become one of the oldest and most established companies of its kind in Ohio. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Commerce has recognized it as one of the oldest African-American-owned businesses in the United States.

Today E.E. Ward offers transportation, relocation and storage services throughout the country, including office, industrial and employee relocation, warehousing, and special product delivery.

logoTo learn what Otto Beatty, E.E. Ward’s current co-owner, has to say about his role at the company, why the Ward family entrusted it to him and his business partner, and how the company continues to evolve, keep reading.

The Metropreneur: When did you and Brian Brooks buy the company and why?

Otto Beatty: In 2001, Eldon Ward, Brian Brooks’ godfather, entrusted his family’s business and our community jewel to us to carry on into the 21st century. When given this honor, we pledged to uphold the legacy and tradition of excellence and integrity established by the Ward family. While it is a business with low barriers to entry and can be commoditized, it is a service that businesses and individuals need regardless of economic times. For the foreseeable future, it will be difficult to completely replace the service with technology or outsourcing.

[M]: Why do you think Eldon entrusted his family’s business to you and Brian?

OB: Mr. Ward knew our families and the values that we were raised with and our tradition of service to the community. We grew up with the stories about the Ward family’s heritage of devotion and dedication to family, company and our community. We attended the Eldon Ward YMCA.

[M]: How would you describe your role at the company?

OB: Building and maintaining relationships, establishing key goals for the company, ensuring customer satisfaction.

[M]: The company has shifted its focus in recent years. What’s changed and why did you make those changes?

OB: From the start, we understood that while the business had an excellent reputation, it was primarily a local moving company. In order to expand our business and achieve success, we increased our warehouse and fleet capacity. During our 11-year leadership, we have employed hundreds of people on a full-time, part-time and temporary basis.

In 2007, E.E. Ward became an interstate agent for North American Van Lines and Specialized Transportation Inc. These steps, among others, have transformed the company from a local mover to a company with an international, inter- and intrastate network.

[M]: E.E. Ward was founded more than 130 years ago. Why do you think it’s been able to remain in business for so long?

OB: When we purchased E.E. Ward, we pledged to uphold the legacy and tradition of excellence established by the Ward family and expected by its customers. Eldon Ward’s advice, “Do what’s right, come what may,” continues to serve as our guiding philosophy.

To ensure uniform quality service, we implemented the Blue Carpet Experience for our customers on every household or office move− a series of six or more oral contacts with the customer. It guarantees a consistent standard of excellence, addresses any concerns, and provides confidence before, during and after relocations, deliveries and onsite storage.

[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?

OB: Over the past 12 months, we have hired a new management team to run the day-to-day operations and financial aspects of the company to allow us to focus on strategic and growth opportunities. We truly enjoy being a part of the small business and entrepreneurial community in Columbus. We sincerely hope and work hard to make sure others benefit from our experiences and lessons learned because there are so many who have helped us get to this point in our business life.

To learn more about E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co., visit WeMoveColumbus.com.