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Posted: February 01, 2012

Executive edge: Greg Anton

A competitive spirit drives the founding partner of Denver CPA firm

Lynn Bronikowski

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Growing up in Massachusetts, Greg Anton would take a 30-second ride on a ski lift to zip down a 300-vertical-foot run at Blue Hills ski area. He would read about Colorado in ski magazines and dream of someday skiing here.

So when it came time to go to college he set his sights on the University of Northern Colorado, where he earned a bachelor's degree in accounting, would go on to become a founding partner of Denver-based Anton Collins Mitchell LLP and be named to Accounting Today's 2011 100 Most Influential People in Accounting.  

"I always had a vision early in life that I would own my own business," said Anton, 48, whose firm grew from 30 people in one office in 2002 to 90 people working today in offices in Denver, Greeley and Boulder.

"My dad left corporate America to open a gourmet food business. We watched his love for that business, but we also observed the turmoil in difficult economic times. And at the end of the day I gained an appreciation for entrepreneurialism from him."

Today, Anton enjoys helping clients achieve their goals while also taking on the challenge of serving as chairman of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants during its 125th anniversary year.

"Having started the CPA firm, you really gain a lot of knowledge of what it's all about to run a business," Anton said. "In order to achieve success, you have to be willing to take on and conquer challenge. You'll never find success unless you are willing to put yourself out there and be willing to put yourself in a position where you may fail."

From the third grade, when he was diagnosed with dyslexia, Anton has known challenge. He doesn't talk about it much and only recently disclosed it publicly at his AICPA inauguration last fall.

"That was an impactful thing in my life, but it also provided me an opportunity," Anton said. "It has provided me with a competitive spirit that I don't think I would have had without it. I really had to compete hard to be successful, and I learned that some of the most incredible business minds in our country had dyslexia and overcame the challenges of it."

His drive to conquer dyslexia also spurred his interest in early childhood education - one of his many charitable endeavors. With several other local business luminaries he helped found the CEO Roundtable of Executives Partnering to Invest in Children, which advocates for public and private investments in the early childhood sector.

As AICPA chairman, Anton is involved with several initiatives, including one that takes a look at near-term retirees in the accounting profession.

"There's a huge bubble of baby boomers who are going to be retiring, so we've created a task force to identify ways that these CPAs can give back to their not-for-profits, to school boards and non-governmental agencies," Anton said.

At the same time, the institute has an initiative that aims to bring high school and college students into the profession to replace the retiring baby boomers.

"In 2011, accounting majors reached 225,000 - an all-time high, and we are now one of the few professions that is nearly one-for-one replacing our retiring CPAs," Anton said. "That was a huge challenge we saw coming down the road so we did a lot of work to turn the trajectory from decline to increasing CPA candidates."

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Lynn Bronikowski is a freelance writer in Denver.

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