Growing up in Jackson Township the fourth of five children, James Anton says he tried to find the focus for his life. He became active in sports, which continue to be a passion of the 34-year old Valparaiso resident. In middle school and high school he was a member of student council and speech and debate. “I went to IU in Bloomington and tried to find myself there, but that didn’t work. I came back home and started at Purdue North Central, but that wasn’t it.”
In 1996, he joined the steel frame construction industry, putting together the framework for buildings. “As I’m hanging off a steel frame in a lightning storm one day, I decided I needed to find another career,” Anton chuckles. “So I went to my father and uncle who owned Anton Insurance Agency and asked them for a job. They said ‘no’, that I wasn’t ready.”
Today, he says, “looking back on it, it was the best thing they could have done. I wasn’t ready.” Anton says he needed seasoning and to learn more about life and about being resilient. His journey of discovery took him to the Chesterton Parks Department, where he worked for Department Superintendent Bruce Mathias outdoors in the parks during a cold winter.
The mentoring Mathias provided helped him mature, Anton says, so that when he went back to his father and uncle in 1997, they hired the then-21-year old. In addition to Mathias, James Anton counts his father, Mike Anton Jr., as a role model and an inspiration.
“He jumped into his own business from the steel mills in the early 1970s, when he had a couple of kids,” Anton says of his father. “It was a little bit scary, but he was confident he could be a successful business owner.” Mike Jr. continues to positively influence him, Anton says, “not only from a family environment and in business, but also seeing him in action.”
His father has also taught him “the value of continuing education,” Anton says. “I continue to educate myself in the insurance industry.” James Anton earned the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation in 2000, and this year received his Certified Risk Manager’s designation.
JAMES P. ANTON
Commercial Lines Manager
Anton Insurance Agency Inc.
Chesterton and Valparaiso
He is active in commercial insurance sales and loss control risk management, and is involved with the agency’s automation systems. Anton also helps host risk management safety meetings for local municipalities, and is a member of the Indiana Young Agents Commission, which keeps him in contact with others in his profession around the state. “I enjoy meeting and working with people from all business backgrounds and helping them secure the financial piece of their future,” he says.
Much of his work involves networking through various civic organizations, Anton says. He is the current president of the Chesterton-Porter Rotary for 2010-2011, and is vice-president of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce. He will assume the chamber presidency on Jan. 1, 2011. Anton Insurance Agency also belongs to the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, in which James Anton is an active participant.
He works, too, in numerous charitable activities throughout Porter County, including Rebuilding Together Duneland, part of the nation’s leading nonprofit group working to preserve affordable homeownership and revitalize communities.
Anton’s participation with family members in the Duneland and Valparaiso Relay for Life stems from a diagnosis of cancer his uncle received in 1997.
He participates in the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s Party in the Park, an event that focuses on quality entertainment for Duneland friends and families to help start off the school year. Anton is also part of CHIP, the Chesterton Hometown Improvement Program.
This 20 Under 40 honor recipient says he’s most proud of the balance he’s now achieved in life.
“In addition to having some professional success, I’m proud of the balance I’ve been able to create between my career as a professional and future business owner, and my philanthropic and community activities,” Anton says.
Mike Anton Jr. remains active in the insurance agency he created, along with his wife, Nancy, who is office manager. However, James Anton says, his dad and step-mother are “beginning a perpetuation plan” which will eventually pass the business on to the next generation.
“I see myself as president of Anton Insurance. I want to keep the family business rooted in Porter County,” he says, adding, “I was so lucky that none of my siblings wanted to go into the insurance business. They are my silent partners.”