Chris Anton

Chris Anton was one of seven children from turn of the century Greek immigrants. He grew up in a poor farming family during the Depression and left Muskegon Heights High School before graduation to get a job to help support his parents and siblings. He served in the United States Army during World War II.

He returned to Michigan in 1948 and entered the electrical construction industry. During the 1950s, Chris worked on the project to electrically connect the Lower and Upper Peninsula's of Michigan with submarine cable across the Mackinaw Straits. In 1961, he was one of the original founders of Newkirk Electric with several other investors – whom he bought out in 1973.

Over the next 40 years, Chris grew the company into one of the largest design-build electrical contractors in the United States. The company's focus in the early years was on building and modifying substations for Consumers Energy. The Ludington Pumped Storage project in 1968 was one of Newkirk's largest, early projects; and at the time, the largest civil construction project of its kind in the world. Other key projects included the D.E. Karn power plant in Bay City in 1972 and the J.H. Campbell power plant in 1977.

Looking to expand on capabilities, he founded Theka Associates in 1980, an engineering subsidiary of Newkirk Electric. The two companies work as strategic partners to offer design-build solutions to their customers. They also expanded into renewable energy, designing and building landfill generation projects, industrial co-generation systems, biomass power and solar power. As wireless technology emerged, so did Newkirk as a leader to help build the wireless communications infrastructure for most of the major wireless carriers across the United States.

Chris was a strong supporter of the Muskegon County Community Foundation both by endowing the organization and establishing the Anton Family Fund. His involvement carried over to the Muskegon Habitat for Humanity and the Muskegon Civic Theater/Frauenthal Center. Although he was proud to give back to the community, his church, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, brought him the greatest pride. He was awarded an Orthodox honorary medal by the bishop of the church. He also received a "key" to the church in 2000.

Chris had a keen understanding that a company had to innovate to stay ahead of its competition in order to survive. And while he was a natural-born leader, innovator and a forward-thinker in the electrical industry, he never forgot about his family and the community he lived in.