Brooke Maltun, 34
President, OMV Technologies LLC
Brooke Maltun is a second-generation thermoformer and entrepreneur living in Los Angeles. In 1993, her father purchased Harbor City, Calif.-based thermoformed packaging supplier Star Plastic Design Inc., "where I cut my teeth working on the manufacturing floor each summer," she said.
"After working in different sides of the packaging industry for several years, I was thrilled to come on board to run the sales department at Star Plastic in 2018," she said.
MalStra LLC of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., purchased Verona, Italy-based OMV Machinery srl, a division of Wifag/Polytype Holding AG, in 2021. Maltun and plastics industry veteran Mark Strachan renamed the company OMV Technologies LLC and moved the headquarters to Florida but retained manufacturing operations in Italy. Maltun was named president of OMV.
"I've always been drawn to the plastic packaging industry because of the way it evolves and the way it interacts with every other industry — from medical to food to consumer goods," she said. "It's exciting to be part of an industry that has such a direct impact on products that reach every facet of the world."
Her biggest challenge right now is building the right team in the United States fast enough.
"We're ready to hit the ground running, and we want to make sure we have the right people in place," she said.
"We also have to continue to keep morale steady during a pandemic. With some staff working from home, it can be a challenge to maintain camaraderie and enthusiasm," she added.
Maltun earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Southern California and Master of Business Administration from Northwest University.
"After graduating from college with a journalism degree, I realized there were essential skills that I would need if I wanted to successfully pivot from journalism to business. I enrolled in a university to achieve my MBA to help fill those gaps, while also working full time," she said. "I have also been aggressive in pursuing good opportunities. I've worked at several different companies for different reasons and each has been an incredible education and experience that I believe has benefited me greatly, leading to the recent acquisition of OMV."
Maltun is also involved with networking groups and organizations such as the Institute of Packaging Professionals and the Junior League of Los Angeles.
"I believe that my greatest achievement is yet to come," Maltun said. "I am certainly proud to have helped run a family-owned thermoforming company that employs 25 people for the last few years. However, I'm extremely excited to see where we will take OMV Technologies. Building upon the foundation they have achieved in Italy and expanding that expertise paired with research and development in the United States, I feel strongly that big things are in store for us, globally."
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Maltun: My dad, hands down. I've been incredibly lucky to get to work by his side for the last few years, but even before that, he was my go-to for advice, business or otherwise. Perhaps it can be credited to his background as a lawyer, but he has a unique way of seeing situations and obstacles from every perspective. This makes him a great resource for problem-solving and out-of-the-box thinking. It doesn't hurt that he's one of the most genuine and kind people I know. I think that's what makes him a great mentor: He's someone who will inspire you to be better in business but also in life.
Q: What is your philosophy related to plastics and sustainability? What steps have you taken to improve plastics' sustainability, either in work, your community or personal life?
Maltun: I think education is everything. While most companies want to be "green," many are unaware of the best way to get there. I follow trade magazines, podcasts and available research to stay on top of industry news so that I can be a resource for my customers.
In addition, I'm passionate about starting a coalition for plastics education. The coalition will consist of vertical markets involved in plastics packaging from the companies that make the extrusion and thermoforming machines (like OMV), to the manufacturers of the parts, to the consumer products companies. We need to band together to re-educate the market on the truths regarding the benefits of plastic packaging. The lower greenhouse gases compared to other materials, the recyclability of each type of material, the increased shelf life of certain products and those benefits, etc.
If misguided public perceptions continue to drive public policies, we might quickly lose an incredibly valuable and eco-friendly material. This is something I think we need to be addressing immediately.
Q: What has been the biggest impact/challenge on your career from the coronavirus pandemic?
Maltun: Running a company during a pandemic has been a challenge for everyone. I think the biggest impact it had on me was that drove home the importance of being flexible. You can't wait around to see what's going to happen. You need to trust your gut and pivot fast in order to look out for your business, your employees and your customers.