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Business Sponsor:

Joseph W. Mercado Insurance Agency, Inc

1814 Middle Country Road
Ridge, NY 11961-2418


Walk into Joe Mercado’s State Farm office at 1814 Middle Country Road, and a feeling comes over you. It’s warm, bright, cheerful. It’s comforting. Yes, you’re there to conduct business regarding insurance, but something about the ambiance makes you want to sit down and just engage in a nice, smart conversation. 


I keep glancing around the office space, trying to pinpoint the source of this eminently comfortable vibe. Is it the State Farm red walls? Is it the décor? Is it the light through the big windows? Then it occurred to me: It’s Joe, or more accurately Joe’s smile. He wears a constant, warm smile that just makes you feel comfortable.


Through that smile, Joe tells me that he grew up right on Ridge Road and spent his entire childhood in Ridge. He has fond memories of playing at the park, walking through the downtown area, and holding his first job at Hollywood Sweets and Gray’s Hardware. He also has special memories of his education in the Longwood Central District, from Ridge Elementary all the way through to Longwood High School graduation in 2008.


“I’ve grown to love the area,” Joe says, “and I’ve earned a lot of friends and value my fellow business owners in the community.” 


Now in his early thirties, Joe has been in the insurance industry for 13 years. He spent about six years with Geico in the corporate office in Woodbury. Deciding that he’d like to broaden his skillset, he next worked with a State Farm agent in Franklin Square for about three years. Based on his experience at that point plus some helpful mentoring from colleagues, Joe developed a desire to establish his own agency.


This is what brings us full circle to downtown Ridge. 

Joe had his eye on the State Farm office that has long been in his current location, but it wasn’t available at the time he was ready to strike out on his own. While in process of negotiating an office as close as possible, which was in Yaphank, Joe got a wonderful surprise. “It was a phone call from a colleague letting me know that the location at 1814 Middle Country Road was going to become available after all.” 


In 2019, Joe eagerly set about renovating the third unit in the small business plaza immediately to the east of Hollywood Sweets. He got to work with some refreshing and remodeling, but Joe was thrilled to be back in his childhood community. Then the pandemic hit which, as we know, took a toll on many small businesses—one of which was the small gym in the first unit which suddenly made that office space also available. 


Joe didn’t hesitate, even though he had just remodeled the third unit. The first unit in the front is a prime location, facing directly onto Middle Country Road. Joe converted the first two units into one large office space. He had walls removed, added a kitchen area, and had it painted in that vibrant State Farm red. It took a lot of work, but it has definitely paid off. 


Joe’s current State Farm office opened in August 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. It’s a real testament to Joe’s persistence and business savvy that he managed all of this transition during such a difficult time, when supplies were harder to procure and so much was shut down. Joe currently has four agents working with him in the office as well as one remote worker, and he’s been thriving since.

One thing helping to drive his success is his son. “My little man is an energetic, smart, funny four-year-old.” I note he’s the quiet one with huge brown eyes sitting at another desk nearby. Joe added, “We recently moved to a larger home, and he loves all of the space. We also have a beagle/pitbull mix who’s really great with people—my son just loves him—so the bigger backyard is nice for that too.” As Joe speaks about his son, it’s clear that you’re going to be hard pressed to find a more dedicated and loving father. That warm smile just gets wider. 

A second thing helping drive Joe’s success is his civic spirit. Giving back to the community is not just a facile phrase; Joe truly puts his money where his mouth is. In addition to actively working with worthy local causes like Blessings in a Backpack and the Stony Brook Veterans Home, you can’t drive along Middle Country Road late in the year without seeing Joe’s big annual Toys for Tots campaign. It’s a huge turnout each year, and he often has to move gifts out of his office to make space for more. He partners with Kiddie Academy in Wading River for collection, then brings all of the donations to the Marine Corps for distribution. 


Joe also sponsors local efforts aimed at keeping kids happy, healthy, and active. He regularly contributes to the Longwood School District in various ways. For example, he donated 500 reusable water bottles to the high school during a fundraising effort to have older water fountains replaced with water filling stations, and he also donated to have a banner hung at the Longwood Middle School athletic fields. 


In addition, he’s an active supporter of Longwood Soccer Club, organized through LYSA. He bought the children’s jerseys, he has a huge banner at the Selden arena (corner of North Ocean and Middle Country Road) that helps support their winter futsal program, and his office participates in the LYSA annual parade through Yaphank.


Finally, Joe’s success is driven by his obvious pride in the community of Ridge. Having grown up here with his father, Joe has witnessed all of Ridge’s changes since the 1990s. He waxes nostalgic about visiting The Steer Seller, watching Ridge Community Park change over the years, seeing Dunkin’ Donuts replace the convenience store once on the corner of Giant Oak as well as more recently seeing the second traffic light being installed by Gray’s Hardware, Drifters replacing McDonalds, Unique Tastes opening next to Alfredo’s, and the wonderful renovation of the Veterans Memorial Park.


“This community has really changed over the years and transformed for the better,” he explains. “Some small communities around Long Island seem to have declined over the years, but that hasn’t happened to Ridge. That says a lot about our community, and Ridge Civic Association has had a part to play in that.” 


Wrapping up our interview, I sense that Joe Mercado will play his own part in helping Ridge continue to grow, change, and improve. It’s clear why his business is doing well. It’s the smile, the warmth of which makes you feel comfortable, reassured, and confident. I can’t think of a better feeling you’d want to get from your local, hometown insurance agent. 

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