Merchants Insurance Group, partnering with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), unveiled the enhanced Main/Seneca Metro Rail stations in downtown Buffalo, New York outside of Merchants’ corporate headquarters. The occasion was marked with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting by Merchants’ President and CEO Robert M. Zak, and Kim Minkel, Executive Director at the NFTA, along with Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) and State Senator Tim Kennedy, Chair of the State Senate Transportation Committee.
“This block of Main Street has been the home for Merchants’ headquarters for more than 90 years” commented Zak. “Our objective in completing this project is to contribute to the ongoing resurgence of downtown Buffalo.”
“It’s imperative that we continue to see strong investment throughout our transportation corridors, and this partnership with Merchants Insurance Group is a demonstration not only of their commitment to the City of Buffalo, but to the transit riders that use these networks every day,” said Senator Kennedy.
“This partnership illustrates Merchants Insurances’ commitment to the Western New York Community,” said Minkel. “We are so appreciative because this beautiful improved station provides us with a new creative source of revenue and helps us continue to maximize public transportation to better connect people within our community.”
The work on the stations, which are located on the northbound and southbound Metro Rail lines on Main Street between Seneca Street and Swan Street, has been in process for more than a year. The stations were designed to complement the Merchants headquarters building, and were rejuvenated with Merchants’ branding through logo wraps and signage, as well as fresh paint in “Merchants Maroon.”
Merchants’ logo signage adorns the top of each station. Scaled-down versions of Merchants’ iconic vertical sign on the front of its headquarters were installed on the side of each station. The signs will be illuminated by solar panels designed and installed by Western New York-based Solar Liberty Energy Solutions Inc., through National Grid. Merchants’ use of an environmentally friendly power source is a continuation of its efforts to reduce its eco-footprint through a variety of initiatives including solar panels on its headquarters’ roof and digitizing insurance transactions.
As a small business insurer, working with local businesses for this project was a priority for Merchants, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic. Buffalo-based branding, advertising, and digital marketing firm Abbey Mecca provided the creative design and project management. Work progressed successfully despite the pandemic, and Merchants and Abbey Mecca worked with several local businesses including Solar Liberty, RW Painting Inc., Streamline Designs, and ASI Signage Installations.
Merchants’ local sourcing for this endeavor is in line with its deep-rooted value of community. Founded in downtown Buffalo more than one hundred years ago in 1918, Merchants values its longstanding role in the Buffalo and Western New York community. The company employs local businesses as frequently as it can on undertakings such as the Metro Rail station renovation, its recent reproduction of its historic vertical blade sign, and its rooftop solar paneling. Merchants also regularly participates in local philanthropic causes and local nonprofit sponsorships.
Merchants’ focus on rejuvenating the train stations is in keeping with other nearby businesses who have worked to improve the foot of Main Street in downtown Buffalo, including Douglas Development, Crowley Webb, Priam Enterprises, and Buffalo Place. These five entities funded the removal of the windscreen from the east side of the 200 block of Main St. near the Metro Rail stations.
Merchants Insurance Group’s Buffalo, N.Y. corporate headquarters office supports the local economy by employing more than two hundred colleagues in the area.
The NFTA is a regional multi-modal transportation authority responsible for airport and surface transportation in Erie and Niagara counties. NFTA/NFTM businesses include a bus, rail and paratransit system, the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and the Niagara Falls International Airport. In 2018, a J.D. Power study ranked the Buffalo Niagara International Airport number one in customer satisfaction for medium sized airports in North America. www.NFTA.com
Photo: David Marino Photography