LifestyleBlack History Month


Black History Month: A Naples moving company always remembers its railroad roots

With $500 and a plan in 1969, Cleveland Bass Movers still thrives during an incredibly busy time for SWFL movers
Posted at 9:41 PM, Feb 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-22 15:05:14-05

NAPLES, Fla. — One family in Naples could change the way you think about moving companies.

"We've been around for 54 years for a reason," said Cassandra Stready. "We take care of our customers."

Cassandra Stready walks us around Cleveland Bass Movers, just off Tamiami Trail in Naples. A moving company with a backstory that is much more than loading and unloading moving vans.

Even as business may have never been busier.

"Extremely busy, extremely busy," said Tim Stready, who calls himself "the boss" of this company, open since 1969.

Cleveland Bass Movers is entirely family-run, with a living room that welcomes anyone who walks in the front door. Cassandra Stready pointed to the furniture, the lamps and more than 100 bottles of wine, on display, as they needed a living space for when the kids are over.

Cassandra is the granddaughter of the founder, the late Cleveland Bass. Tim Stready is son and Cassandra's father.

The story of Cleveland Bass Movers goes back long before moving vans and endless boxes. For decades, Cleveland Bass was a Pullman porter. For 100 years, after the Civil War until 1968, Pullman hired Black men to work for the railroad, serving customers and clearing out sleeping cars. In a segregated world, this contact between different races gave people time together when, because of rail travel, all they had was time.

The Pullman porters are seen as a key development in the Black middle class and also influencing the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Pullman reached the end of the line on December 31, 1968, leaving Cleveland Bass looking for his own next chapter.

"He had a very good friend, a well-known designer who said 'you should start your own business'," said Cassandra Stready. "He gave him $500 to buy a truck. During that time, it was a lot of money."

That's how Cleveland Bass Movers started, a Black-owned business in Naples in 1969 it what was still a very different Florida.

"There was another van line in the city of Naples and they did try to run him out of town because they, basically, felt like he didn't belong," said Cassandra Stready. "The county commissioner, at that time, told them to, basically, leave my grandfather alone and let him thrive as a local business so that he can provide for his family."

Back to that word again.


That is who shows up for work each day at Cleveland Bass Movers, from the office to the loading dock to the break area where, during the rare down people, family gathers before the next move.

The phrase "planes, trains and automobiles" comes up from the 1987 comedy that took two people through the absolute worst scenario for Thanksgiving travel. Yet, in Naples, there are plenty of planes and automobiles.

Just remember the trains, like the Pullman that Cleveland Bass worked on for decades.

This Sunday, an event will help raise money for the Baggage Car Project over this final weekend for Black History Month. "Jazz on the Lawn" at Paradise Coast Sports Complex runs from 3 to 6 p.m., with the ticket revenue to help this project. Last year, when Naples and Collier County celebrated 100 years, the Collier County Museum also pushed to ensure the region's history and place in the Civil Rights Movement stays thriving for future generations.

That history fills the moving company, with pictures of Cleveland Bass and also his standards, to be on time and always be professional, as the company is well past a half-century of helping people in Southwest Florida reach the next stage.