With a legacy that dates back three generations, Ramalho Tree Service, in Oceanside, has gone above and beyond in serving the community and the surrounding area. In recognition of that, the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce has named the company its 2024 Business of the Year.
The chamber’s business and citizens of the year will be honored at its annual cocktail reception on Feb. 29 at Temple Avodah.
The story of Ramalho Tree Service dates to 1958, when John Ramalho I, now 87, started the business. After coming out of the Navy, he worked for a tree company, but eventually decided to venture out on his own, knocking on doors and picking up jobs to build the foundation of what would become a longstanding family business.
“He started by knocking on doors, going around and just introducing himself and picking up jobs here and there,” Ramhalho’s daughter-in-law, Victoria Ramalho, said. “Starting young, people helped him and recommended him. Without people like that, he never would have gotten his start. He never would have been able to support his wife and three kids and get going.”
Ramalho’s hard work was the driving force behind the business’s initial success. As it grew, he hired family members, and mentored others, including a young man named Ray Smith who now owns one of the biggest tree service companies in Suffolk County, Ray Smith and Associates, in Southampton.
“Ray will tell you if it wasn’t for my father-in-law, he never would have gotten his start,” Victoria Ramalho said. “My father-in-law never forgot the people who helped him.”
Ramalho bought a house in Oceanside when his kids were young. John Ramalho II and his two sisters were born and raised in Oceanside, and John II carried on the legacy of the family business.
“From the years he was a little kid on, John would go to the jobs with his father,” Victoria recalled. “My husband has just been involved with it since day one.”
The business thrived, handling significant projects like clearing land at Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre working on parking lots for St. Anthony’s in Oceanside and St. Christopher’s church in Baldwin, and even providing private service for notable figures like Howard Stern, in Old Westbury. Three generations later, the family remains committed to the business.
In 2018, John I decided it was time to take a step back from the business. John II, now 62, carried the load while Victoria handled everything behind the scenes. These days, their sons, John III, 29, Jake, 23, and Sam 20, work in the family business part-time while pursuing other career opportunities.
“They do the estimating for us,” Victoria said. “They go meet the customers, and they explain to the customers what needs to be done.”
Despite the change in leadership, the family continued its tradition of community service, emphasizing the importance of giving back, and even the eldest Ramalho is an active adviser.
“If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you that his father is his best friend, and that they’ve worked hard together,” Victoria said. “He learned everything he knows from him.”
Victoria highlighted the family’s involvement in the civic life of Oceanside, from putting up Christmas lights around the schoolhouse green on Foxhurst Road during the holidays, to taking part in various local events like donating cookies to Kiwanis Holiday Happenings. The business, now with four employees outside the family, has continued to be actively engaged in community service, contributing to the betterment of the hamlet.
“When we took over the business, our goal was to get more involved with Oceanside,” Victoria said. “Start advertising more in Oceanside to show the Oceanside community that we want to be their tree company. We participate in food drives and toy drives. Nothing makes you feel better than knowing both my husband and I were born and raised in Oceanside.”
The family acknowledges the support of the community, and expressed its pride in being recognized alongside other businesses for contributing to the town’s growth. Victoria voiced her gratitude for organizations, including the Chamber, Oceanside Unified, and others that the family has been privileged to work alongside.
“We’ve raised our children here and now our business is helping to support Oceanside as best we can, and the Chamber of Commerce has been nothing but great,” she said. “They want to see the businesses in Oceanside take that next step and be able to continue here and not get pushed out by big business.”
“I’ve been with my husband for over 35 years, and since day one, it’s been a part of my life, and everybody pitches in and does what they can,” Victoria said of the business. “We hope that everybody in Oceanside understands that we’re willing to help so that Oceanside can continue to grow and be a better place to live.”