Arthur F. Anton
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
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I always had a pretty good head for business – even in high school and early college, when I managed a Carvel ice cream parlor in Brooklyn, N.Y. Knowing the customer was key to that operation, just like at Swagelok today. So was knowing how to treat customers and employees. And being responsible with finances. And making sure processes followed company standards, to maintain quality.
In 1980, I earned a degree in economics and accounting from the City University of New York. I got offers from a few firms, but felt most comfortable with the gentler, Midwestern values of Ernst & Ernst. They hired me as an entry-level accountant in their small New York office. By age 24, I transferred to the firm’s headquarters in Cleveland where I had exposure to more senior leaders.
I worked my way up the ranks, dealing with all kinds of interesting client companies. I was always the guy willing to take on a new adventure, a new assignment. In addition to tax work, I handled initial public offerings, due diligence, mergers and acquisitions, and more.
Eventually, I ran a regional financial services practice for what was then called Ernst & Young. A group of 100-some people, we served major banks, investment companies and manufacturing companies around Cleveland, Toledo and Detroit.
Soon after, I became a partner in the firm, one of my proudest accomplishments.
By 1998, I was ready for something new – some exposure to disciplines outside accounting and finance. Swagelok gave me the opportunity, inviting me to become chief financial officer.
I came on board and took over Swagelok’s finance and IT areas, but also was encouraged to get involved in even more: manufacturing, marketing, supply chain, HR. In 2000, I helped ramp up Swagelok’s business in the semiconductor industry, particularly with supply chain planning. I worked with IT to put in a new system to better allocate products and better understand customer demand.
I was so focused on trying to do a good job as CFO, that I didn’t expect to be named president and chief operating officer one year later. In 2003, I became chief executive officer.
One of my biggest successes as CEO has been picking a good team – one that shows the respect and integrity so important to this company. Here, it’s not only what you do, but how you do it.
With their help, I’ve seen Swagelok become better at listening to customers and offering them custom solutions. We’ve become more nimble, adopting lean manufacturing principles – because it’s the right, responsible thing to do.
I try to instill in my leaders a devotion to service, rather than a devotion to self. That’s helped Swagelok become as strong as it is today. And it’s helped make us a good corporate citizen. Everyone on our management team gives back to the community by serving outside Swagelok.
Personally, I’m an active board member of Forest City Enterprises Inc., The Sherwin-Williams Company, Olympic Steel and University Hospitals, where I chair the finance committee.