If there’s one thing Maria Montalvo wants all women to know — it’s that anything is possible, even when all odds are stacked against you.
Montalvo, a Montgomery High School alumna, is the franchisee of San Diego-based Metal Supermarkets, the world’s largest supplier of small-quantity metals. Montalvo has grown her business to a multi-million dollar operation.
But, finding success did not come without its challenges.
Montalvo, the daughter of two immigrants from Mexico, said she grew up in a neighborhood that everyone wanted to leave.
“I come from a community where everyone wanted to get out of their economic reality, and for so many that simply wasn’t an option,” she said. “It was a huge challenge and, at many times, I thought I couldn’t do it, but I never gave up.”
Montalvo found an opportunity while she was running her own family daycare.
“The owner of the machine shop that my husband worked at approached us about purchasing it from him,” she said. “The shop had been family owned for 50 years and the owners wanted to pass it on to another family if possible. After a lot of thought, several restless nights, and a lot of number crunching, we accepted this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Montalvo didn’t just face challenges that any new business owner may face. She also faced challenges as a woman in a male-dominated industry.
“I have had to deal with misogyny, racism and discrimination all throughout my journey,” she said. “I have learned to keep my head up and assert myself so that I can be the most effective boss and provide the best customer service to everyone.”
Looking ahead, Montalvo said she wants to focus less on her career and more on her community, particularly the neighborhood she grew up in.
“I would like to slow down a bit and really focus on bringing people together in my own community,” she said.
For now, she gives all women a piece of advice: “Know what you want, go get it and don’t give up. Don’t let anyone make you believe that you cannot accomplish your goals, because you can and you will.”