Catherine Browne balances the demands of work and her personal life.
She rejects the adage "that you can't work hard and have a life. You don't need to read emails at night and on weekends or on vacation. Work-life balance is important."
She spends time with her husband, Paul, and their son, Sean, 16.
"I like to enjoy nature with my family with no screen time," she said. "I like to go to the beach or hike in the mountains or gaze at a lake and be reminded what is important in life and how grand nature is."
In the past, she ran for relaxation and competitively in two marathons and numerous half-marathons. "But I have old knees now, so I spin," she said.
Browne calls herself "an environmentalist who cares about our planet and who works in the plastics industry and who knows that I can be both."
She is general manager of bagging solutions provider Crown Poly Inc. in Huntington Park, Calif., near Los Angeles.
In endearing military parlance, Browne was an Air Force brat.
She was born in San Antonio at Randolph Air Force Base. She lived there, Okinawa Prefecture, then Japan and again to Randolph AFB. She moved in middle school to northern California and Travis AFB until leaving for college.
Browne received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of California at San Diego in 1988.
She worked at Himolene Inc., a small Los Angeles manufacturer that promoted on merit and performance, not tenure. She likes that policy.
First Brands Corp. purchased Himolene and reassigned her to its Danbury, Conn., headquarters in 1989.
"My responsibilities included assisting in manufacturing, purchasing (no decision-making), production reporting, analysis of production reports and, most importantly in my view, secretary for board of directors and management meetings," she said. "That is where I learned the most from the decision-makers."
Returning to California, she started at Crown Poly in 1991 as the second employee and operations manager. While working, she obtained a master of business administration degree from the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University.
Crown Poly owner, CEO and mentor Abraham Simhaee promoted her to general manager in 1998.
"My career highlight is seeing the company grow and expand from startup through today and seeing employees' lives change because of their careers," she said.
Browne is proud that Crown Poly captured more than 50 percent of the domestic produce bag market — "previously a fragmented category" — and served "seven out of top 10 retailers in the category."
Losing a large retailer's business in 2015 taught her "that we need to ensure we don't chase business for the wrong reasons."
Avoiding over-commoditization is a challenge.
"Crown Poly is founded on innovation and value," she said. "T-shirt bags are a commodity. Produce bags are a commodity. We add value by providing total cost that is lower."
She encourages individuals considering a career in the plastics industry. "Engineering, technical jobs like maintenance, warehousing, production jobs all are great careers that can benefit employees."
The Western Plastics Association presented its Leo Shluker Award to Browne in 2011. She served WPA's predecessor as president for two terms, treasurer and director.
She supports the flexible film and bag division of the Plastics Industry Association, advocates tenaciously and finds ways to communicate her positions even among adversaries.
She likes the plastics industry's "resilience" while recognizing it "can be archaic and not address issues head-on."