From Office Boy to Chairman
It would be correct to say that Ignatius Seveirano Ferreira has dedicated his life to the growth of the group of 16 companies which he now heads. It is as though his numerous movements within the various departments of Furness, Withy & Company prepared him to lead the group.
Though born in Belmont on September 24, 1928, Ferreira grew up in Chaguanas. His parents, who originated from Madeira, operated a rumshop and grocery at the corner of Caroni Savannah Road and the Chaguanas Main Road. He attended the Chaguanas Government School and Presentation Primary until he became old enough to begin school in Port of Spain where he studied at St Thomas High School and Belmont Intermediate.
As a boy, Ferreira served as an acolyte, serving Fr. Max Murphy in the Chaguanas Roman Catholic Church, where his mother played the organ. Free days were spent playing at Woodford Lodge and attending the Jubilee Cinema. This ended, however, when he was 12. His family sold the shop and he moved to Belmont to live with his grandmother.
When he left Belmont Intermediate in 1946, he applied for a job at Furness, Withy & Co. and was accepted. He began as an office-boy as all new employees did in those days. He claims that once one joined a company then, they saw themselves spending the rest of their lives with that firm. Young Ferreira had no intention of that being his case but little did he know that that job was to shape his future.
At first he wanted to he an accountant and so studied accountancy after work. He then became an accounts clerk but decided that that was not the field for him. He was transferred to the ice factory in Richmond Street to serve as a clerk where he was responsible for dispatching the ice vans in the morning. From there, he moved to the hardware and lumber department where he held the position of cashier and then gained promotion to assistant manager.
Shipping was the next area he was introduced to as he began again as a clerk but then got promoted to the position of claims manager. When the Federal Maple and the Federal Palm, the two gift ships from Canada, arrived in the country, Ferreira became claims manager for the entire Caribbean. From there, this industrious worker was transferred to the Trinidad Trading Company as a salesman in the hardware and engineering department. Ferreira was then made managing director of that company and in 1962 he became a director of the Furness, Withy local office.
His rapid movement up Furness, Withy & Co. was as a result he claims, of the fact "that the people who held senior posts were all quite old. I even remember one of my superiors finding it very hard to stand. You will always find that if you are in an organisation in which there are a large number of older people, you will rise to the to the top much quicker than if there were a large number of younger ones all competing for a limited number of posts". This may be true in Ferreira's case since he first attained a managerial position in his early 30's. When the first shares of the company were placed on the local market, Ferreira acquired a small block. Later, when the entire company was being sold off by Orient Overseas Container (Holdings) Ltd. he acquired one third.
His family also bought into the company. Today, Furness Trinidad Limited is approximately 90 percent owned by Ignatius S. Ferreira.
Upon recommendation from J.B. Fernandes, Ferreira was, in 1985, appointed Honorary Consul of Portugal.
Though he has been in business almost all his life, Ferreira found time to be involved in other activities including The St Johns Ambulance, and it was at these activities in 1953, he met his bride - an attractive, young Venezuelan who took up board with the Pantin family that year. Ferreira, who was friendly with the Pantin brothers, met this young debutante at the football and hockey matches which she attended.
In 1956 they were married. Elia and Ignatius Ferreira have five children, four boys and one girl.
So, to whom, or to what does Ferreira attribute his life of numerous blessings? Well, it's two things actually... "Hard work and dedication did it," he says on one hand, but on the other, he knows that more importantly, "God has been good to me. Sometimes I think that I am His favourite."