The California Chamber of Commerce honored business owners from Lodi and Torrance last week with its “2015 Small Business Advocate of the Year” award, recognizing them for outstanding advocacy on behalf of small businesses.
The CalChamber announced the awards in Sacramento before more than 200 attendees at the CalChamber Capitol Summit on May 27. This year marks CalChamber’s 20th annual recognition of small business advocates.
The 2015 Small Business Advocate of the Year Award recipients are:
• Tiffany Gomes, owner, Classic Design Floor to Ceiling, Lodi;
• Rob Van Lingen, president, Van Lingen Towing and Public Service Impound, Torrance.
Gomes began her career in the home decorating and remodeling business about 10 years ago as a temporary receptionist. In 2010, she purchased that same business she began temping for and made major operational changes, rebranding the company as Classic Design Floor to Ceiling. Currently, her business is very successful bidding on new housing development contracts throughout Northern California.
“She is a true example of a small business advocate,” wrote Lodi Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Robert “Pat” Patrick. “Having crafted a business from nothing but her dream, creating jobs where there were none, serving and giving back to her community in many ways, including the voice of a strong and consummate business advocate.”
Gomes has been politically active with groups in the construction and remodeling trades on many pieces of state legislation over the last five years. In addition to her legislative work at the California State Capitol, Gomes has traveled as far as Washington, D.C. to protest federal card check legislation. Gomes has also been vocal at the Lodi City Hall, raising questions and petitioning about purchasing fairness practices for local small businesses.
Last year she served as chair of the Lodi Chamber’s board. This year she is chairing the Lodi Chamber’s government relations committee, having been a voting member of the committee for six years.
Gomes also served on the chamber’s candidate endorsement panel in 2010, 2012 and 2014. She actively campaigned in the most recent election, working hard to get the Lodi Chamber’s top endorsees elected.
Rob Van Lingen
“Rob is an individual filled with passion for doing what is right for business,” wrote Donna Duperron, president and CEO of the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce.
Van Lingen is a third generation small business owner, having grown up in the towing, transport and wrecked vehicle recovery industry. Early in his career, he experienced a near-fatal injury during a vehicle recovery. He used this incident as the catalyst for change to re-engineer the rigging, training and equipment standards of the towing industry.
Van Lingen is a dedicated industry advocate, working with the California Tow Truck Association (CTTA). This unique perspective on private enterprise and public policy led to his appointment as the Torrance Chamber’s vice chair of government affairs and policy.
Since assuming leadership of the Torrance Chamber’s government affairs operations, Van Lingen has helped substantially grow the chamber’s legislative advocacy program for small businesses. He hosts monthly meetings with the staff representatives of Torrance’s elected officials at each level of government to voice the concerns of small businesses in the community.
In 2014, Van Lingen was instrumental in setting the advocacy strategy of the Torrance Chamber, which resulted in a 76% success rate in stopping bills deemed bad for business.
In 2015, Van Lingen has led an initiative to help small businesses adapt to the new paid sick leave mandate and directed the establishment of a Paid Sick Leave Compliance Resources portal on the Torrance Chamber website.