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.
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