Vincentian-born Ruby Wood, nee Small, who succeeded her compatriot late husband, Egerton “Creech” Wood, is the untiring owner of the Brooklyn-headquartered, popular Square Deal Shippers & Movers, Inc.
Mrs. Wood’s success story is typical of many immigrants in the United States.
“When I came to this country, I came undocumented, and we started this business while being undocumented,” she told Caribbean Life on Tuesday, disclosing that she and her husband got their first job in the shipping business at the defunct, Brooklyn-based BWI Shippers, owned by Vincentian Carl Stephens, before branching out on their own.
“We started this business with $500 and a $2,500-master card,” Mrs. Wood said. “We rented a place without heat on Utica Avenue (Brooklyn), with a kerosene heater, on 925 Utica Ave., until we got an electric heater.
“So, I met a lot of kind people along the way, and I promised to pay back,” she added. “I’m paying forward; that’s all I’m doing.”
Mrs. Wood said, over the years, Square Deal Shippers & Movers, Inc. hired a significant number of Vincentians.
“A lot of Vincentians who came to America got their first job at Square Deal Shippers, and a lot of them are now professionals,” she said. “We encourage people; don’t just stay here – improve yourself.
“I’m a Vincentian by birth, a naturalized American, but my heart, my thoughts and prayers right now are with everyone in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because that foundation I got in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is what makes me who I am today,” added Mrs. Wood, ruminating about the ongoing volcanic eruptions, and recent landslides and damage to properties in her native land.
Mrs. Wood is one of seven brothers and sisters born to Virginia Maule and Cyril Small.
The family lived in a small village called Mount Pleasant, positioned between the villages of Stubbs and Argyle along the eastern coast of mainland St. Vincent.
Mrs. Wood attended Stubbs and Calder elementary schools before completing her secondary education at St. Joseph’s Convent in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital.
In growing up, Mrs. Wood said her mother often repeated words that would guide her through life: “There are more blessings in giving than receiving.”
In 1975, Mrs. Wood migrated to New York to join her husband, who died in March 2012 in a motorcycle accident in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Shortly after migrating, Mrs. Wood said she developed an interest in the shipping business, establishing in 1981, with her husband, Square Deal Shippers and Movers, Inc.
She said their goal was “to offer first-class shipping services to the Caribbean and the rest of the world,” stating that the business took off and that, within just a few years, it outgrew its original location on Utica Avenue.
Hence, Mrs. Wood said they were forced to open a head office and warehouse on Church Avenue in Brooklyn.
The business still operates from the Church Avenue location to this day, Mrs. Wood said.
Over the years, Mrs. Wood firmly established herself as a force to be reckoned with, becoming the first female in the shipping industry.
She said she worked “passionately and fearlessly, moving barrels and driving large trucks – whatever it took to ensure shipments reached their destinations, both far and wide, just in time.”
As Square Deal Shippers and Movers, Inc. grew and prospered, Mrs. Wood also made great strides in other areas of her life.
She attended college in the evenings, earning an associate’s degree at Kingsborough Community College.
She also had three children – two daughters, Joanne and Sheri, and a son, Egerton, Jr. – whom she raised with care and love.
Mrs. Wood said her mission is to give back to the communities that have meant “so much” to her.
In addition, she is very active in the Caribbean Diaspora community.
Mrs. Wood has used the success of Square Deal Shippers and Movers, Inc. to spread kindness and prosperity, and has made “considerable donations” to the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and the Red Cross, and the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines during the ongoing volcanic eruptions.
Additionally, she has supported schools for children with special needs, athletic and educational programs for young people, and provided food for the homeless and underprivileged school children.
But those are not all: Mrs. Wood has acquired and distributed books, computers, medical supplies and building materials for hospitals and correctional facilities, among others.
She has received many awards in recognition of her acts of kindness. She received the Caribbean Life Impact Award in 2015; and, four years later, was named “Woman of the Year” by former New York City Councilmember Dr. Kendal B. Stewart, a Vincentian-born podiatrist, on behalf of the constituents of the 45th Council District in Brooklyn.
Mrs. Wood also received a proclamation from the City Council of New York in 1999 and a humanitarian award, in 2017, from the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc.
She has also been recognized for her civic and community engagements by, among others, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Nurses Association of New York, Inc.; Hairoun Sports Club; GUSC of Grenada; Grenada Nurses Association of New York; St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Teachers Association of New York; St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association of New York, Inc.; BBS Ministries, headed by Florida-based Vincentian evangelist Bridget Blucher; God Battalion of Prayer Church on Linden Boulevard in Brooklyn; and the Bronx-based St. Matthias Charities, Inc.
Today, Mrs. Wood said she continues her charitable acts “far and wide.”
She is the proud grandmother of four boys, and enjoys reading autobiographies and traveling the world in her spare time.
Mrs. Wood said her life is evidence that “a candle loses nothing if it is used to light another.”
Square Deal Shippers and Movers, Inc. is located at 4502 Church Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11203.
You can email at [email protected], call (718) 693-3939, or fax at (718) 693-8465.