SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — He’s been called the backbone of the Latino community in Siouxland by none other than Eldon Roth, owner of Empirical.
He’s Tony Gomez, an entrepreneur, an elected public official, and founder of Gomez Pallets who has stapled his legacy into Siouxland’s rich Hispanic culture.
Tony Gomez first came to America as a first-generation immigrant from Mexico back in 1965. He’s been in Siouxland since 1970 and has witnessed the growth in the Hispanic community for more than fifty years.
He started out as an employee at the old IBP packing house when he came up with an idea that would change his life.
“Thanks to God and thanks to my courage to become an entrepreneur and had an idea to repair pallets. Back in the days when I started, nobody would repair any pallets, they’d throw them at the landfill,” said Gomez.
Gomez said his business started small.
“I started my business in my garage, that’s how I started my business in my garage. I was there for one year, can’t have any better neighbors, you know, they never complained about it, I mean I’m telling you,” said Gomez
Soon, he had to expand his business and moved to a location west of Jackson, Nebraska in 1989 where his company thrived, but then tragedy struck in 2013 when a fire destroyed his entire warehouse.
“In reality, on top of the insurance that you have, you always never recuperate what you lose, so it’s devastating, it’s really sad,” said Gomez when KCAU9 spoke with him after the fire.
Luckily, Tony was able to rebuild and used the opportunity to expand his facility with upgraded technology and more space.
“A little bit of luck because you have to have both. You gotta be ambitious, you gotta be ready to go hard, but you gotta have a good luck on your side, because one thing can go wrong, and everything can go down to nothing,” said Gomez.
While growing Gomez Pallets into Siouxland’s largest pallet supplier, Tony also made time for public service. He was named to the Mexican-American Commision of Nebraska in 1981. Gomez said his work in government has always been about service.
“When somebody elect you for any office, I don’t care if it’s school, city, state, county. You’re there to serve not to be served,” said Gomez.
Gomez has been elected to several boards and part of numerous organizations serving as a voice for not just the Hispanic community, but for all of Siouxland.
“You never forget where you came from. Your culture, I think we got a rich culture and lots of things that we can share with the community here,” said Gomez.
Gomez, at age 76, is now retired. His two sons Sal and Sam now run their father’s company. Tony said there were a number of ingredients to his success.
“A lot of work, a lot of effort, a lot of sacrifice, that’s three things it takes. Sacrifice in terms of I was not able to enjoy my family or my kids because I was so dedicated to building something for them,” said Gomez.
At the end of the day Gomez says he lives with no regrets.
“There’s people that tell me, ‘Tony, if you were reborn again, what do you differently that you do in your life?’ I say ‘Nothing. I do the same thing over again because I enjoy it,” said Gomez.
Tony is in the process of finishing his book highlighting how he rose to prominence through difficult challenges. Other than that, he loves spending time with his wife and his horses and wants to continue to be an inspiration for the Hispanic community in Siouxland.