Sandra Escalante’s rise as a prominent small business owner in Richmond doesn’t appear to have a peak.
This summer, her company, Laner Electric Supply Co. at 1310 51st St., was honored in Sacramento as the 2018 Small Business of the Year for Sen. Nancy Skinner’s district (D-9).
Escalante’s business was one of 75 businesses out of 3.3 million in the state honored at the 2018 California Small Business Day, an event done in partnership with 25 small business organization and chambers. The honor stems from a California Assembly resolution in 2000 honoring the state’s small businesses.
Upon receiving a phone call from Sen. Skinner’s office about receiving the award, Escalante said she was shocked.
“My wife and I were in the car when they called and I remember pulling over and getting teary eyed,” Escalante said. “It’s a wonderful honor to receive such an award in the short time I have purchased our share of the business.”
In 2016, we reported about Escalante’s successful rise as a local small business owner in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, most prominently the stroke and heart attack she suffered at age 38.
The Filipina has thrived as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated profession. Prior to owning Laner, she had worked in the electrical business for over two decades.
After Escalante, 50, of Richmond, took over Laner in 2014, the business increased its annual revenue from $4 million the previous year to $7.8 million in 2016. Her networking and participation in the local community has much to do with that success.
Escalante joined the Richmond Workforce Development Board in 2015 to help embolden local workers, along with the Golden Gate Business Association. Last year, she also joined the BART Business Advisory Board and University of California Small Business Advisory Council.
She has connected with community advocates to ensure her business can be a positive force in Richmond, for example by supplying lighting for a project to beautify a blighted alleyway near 23rd Street.
On the advice of folks at Chevron Richmond, she became a certified small business and a certified woman-, minority- and LGBT-owned business. The certifications led Laner to be named one of the top 50 LGBT-owned businesses in Northern California, and also qualified the business for a $10 million SFMTA Central Subway Project contract.
“I work very hard to ensure that even though we are a small business, that our reputation and integrity as a company is something we can be proud of,” Escalante said.