By: Gabriel Fernando Gonzalez, Owner, Skymobile
As the business owner of Skymobile, a company that distributes and provides Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) units and tracking services for commercial vehicles, I have been part of the California Trucking Association (CTA) for over a year. Like many of the members, our stories are often overlooked as to how the goods movement industry has positively impacted our lives and why we are trucking proud. Our intentions to serve the communities we live in are all relatively similar, and yet, how we have each arrived to where we are today is actually quite unique.
I was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia into a family of 10 in a 3 bedroom home. From an early age of 12, like most children in developing countries, I took on the responsibility to work, provide and survive through some of the most challenging times in my country.
Up until the Political Constitution of Colombia (Constitution of 1991) was adopted, the country faced years of heavy civil war that flooded the land with drugs, violence, and poverty. In fact, communities throughout the country lived in fear which disabled most people's capacity to dream of a better life.
However, shortly after my wife Maria gave birth to my first son, Jose in 1981, I lost the ability to succumb to fear and decided to follow my dreams of investing into advanced technology that would better assist the trucking industry. From that day forward, I committed my work, studies, and life to ensuring that my children would not have to endure the same struggles as I had in the last 20 years.
On Sunday July 7, 1991 Colombia established and adopted a new constitution - opening up the door to commerce, trade, and most of all opportunities. During that time, the national poverty rate stood firmly at 65 percent with many families living under $2 a day. This meant that envisioning a plan or goal was very unlikely, and at most times, impossible. Although the initial stages of a new democracy in my homeland filled us with optimism, it also left many in doubt of the unknown.
Despite the odds against entrepreneurship in Colombia, I began to research the United States' market, economy, and technologies. As goods and supplies began to flow into Colombia - growing its economy, so did the need to safely and efficiently move freight.
By 1997, I partnered with RASTRAC NET, an Austin, Texas based company dedicated to developing software to interpret, gather and report information taken from GPS devices. In 1999, Skymobile launched its official business with 5 employees. Introducing the technology in Colombia, we quickly optimized the use of the devices by presenting, promoting, and marketing its capabilities.
For the next 12 years, our small mom and pop shop progressively grew providing jobs and economical support for Colombia, employing up to 40 staff members. Initially, my goal was to provide and protect my family from hardship. However, looking back, I realized that my intentions were also to improve the community in Bogota through various forms of opportunities.
Today, my family and I have relocated to Southern California where we have rooted our second branch of Skymobile. As the business has grown, so has my family. Trucking has provided my wife and I the ability to support our three children through two undergraduate degrees, two masters and one PhD program at some of the most respected universities.
Although our quest in the United States has merely just begun, I truly believe that the trucking industry in California entails some of the most advanced and dynamic opportunities in the world. The pathway to this moment in our lives has not been an easy one, but it's our story and I am trucking proud of my journey from Colombia to California.