feature

diverse and local: richmond refinery helps
neighboring businesses grow

Chevron’s 100-year-plus history in Richmond has helped spur many local success stories. The refinery invests heavily in local goods and services, which supports jobs and generates revenues for local governments, communities and companies.

S&S Supplies and Solutions received its first Richmond Refinery contract in 1987 and now employs more than 300 employees.

S&S Supplies and Solutions received its first Richmond Refinery contract in 1987 and now employs more than 300 employees.

S&S Supplies and Solutions found a way to succeed. So did Laner Electric Supply and Goebel Construction.

These three San Francisco Bay Area companies supply different services to Chevron’s Richmond Refinery, but their success stories share similar trajectories. From humble beginnings, they leveraged work with Chevron to build their businesses and generate hundreds of local jobs.

“We started really small and had a tiny 2,000-square-foot warehouse,” said Tracy Tomkovicz, owner and CEO of S&S Supplies and Solutions. “A lot of small and diverse companies can’t find their way into larger companies. We succeed because our company was also founded on being humble, that nothing is too small to say yes to.”

“We make a concerted effort to promote an inclusive business environment and to build long-term relationships with local companies,” said Tom Hindman, a procurement specialist at the Richmond Refinery. “Our contracts with companies of different sizes contribute to economic growth and opportunities.”

S&S Supplies

Tracy Tomkovicz, owner and CEO of S&S Supplies and Solutions, furnishes the Richmond Refinery with uniforms, industrial supplies, and tool repair and technical safety services.

partnering with the local suppliers

Chevron’s Hindman said the company proactively seeks to work with local suppliers with diverse backgrounds. “We do this by being actively involved in small business and minority development organizations, including sponsoring and staffing events at local business and economic development events and trade shows in Richmond. We also mentor local businesses to help them succeed.”

That advice includes training local business operators to secure contracts by educating companies on our high standards.

Laner Electric Supply has been in Richmond for 24 years, but with Chevron’s advice became a certified small business and a certified woman-, minority- and LGBT-owned business. Laner Electric Supply is now recognized as one of the top 50 LGBT-owned businesses in Northern California.

“If it weren’t for Chevron, I would not have known about the certifications,” said Sandra Escalante, president and CEO of Laner Electric Supply. “As a businesswoman and a homeowner in Richmond, I have a lot of vested interest in what’s happening here. I really want to see it thrive. Buying from our company sustains 15 people that work for me and their families.”

Laner Electric

Chevron helped Laner Electric Supply President and CEO Sandra Escalante secure small business, woman-owned, minority-owned and LGBT-owned certifications.

"The only way that a small business like ours can survive is with the help of the diversity program, with the help of the community and with the help of not just other women owners, but other business owners in the area."

Sandra Escalante
President and CEO, Laner Electric Supply

That certification helped Escalante’s company boost its revenue from $4 million in 2013 to $10 million in 2016. Clients include the Richmond Refinery, which purchased electrical supplies, and San Francisco’s transportation agency, which hired the company to work on subway renovations.

investing in local companies

The refinery has a special focus on providing opportunities for small and minority- and woman-owned businesses.

In the early 1980s, Richmond-based Goebel Construction received its first contract with the Richmond Refinery for paving and road work. The company started with a paving crew of six and today has more than 100 mostly Richmond-area employees doing paving, grading, underground and mechanical work, steelwork, and environmental remediation at the refinery. Greg Goebel Jr. oversees the work the company does for the refinery. He said his company grew in part because it adheres to Chevron’s high safety standards.

“To maintain our good standing with Chevron we need to keep our safety record immaculate,” Goebel said. “The work and the safety culture that Chevron has helped breed within our company has a positive impact on our other business, outside of the refinery. It’s a good résumé-builder with other clients, saying, ‘This is our safety record.’”

Tomkovicz, the president of S&S Supplies and Solutions, said her successful partnership with Chevron offers many lessons. Large companies should try as much as possible to support communities they work with—and not only through outreach and charitable support, she said. “They should support the entire ecosystem of making sure you’re using local companies to help that economy grow. When you’re supporting a local company like ours, you are directly supporting the 309 people we employ and their families, working in your community.”

Published: August 2018