Photo courtesy of Bob Gill
Bill Anton cuts the ribbon to announce A+ Automotive’s grand opening, alongside his wife, Ellen, and members of the RiverBend Growth Association. The new business on North Rodgers held its grand opening on Oct. 10.
ALTON — For Bill Anton, owner of the recently-opened A+ Automotive at 1835 N. Rodgers St. in Alton, working on cars has been in his blood since he was a child.
“It’s always been a passion of mine,” Anton, who has managed his own car mechanic business for more than 40 years, said. “We’re finally moving to a bigger location to satisfy a greater demand.”
Anton describes riding with his father past gas stations as a child and being enthralled by the different vehicles they’d pass, especially English sports cars. Today, he specializes in collectible, antique and foreign car restoration and service, with an existing customer base including Mercedes, Corvette, Porsche, Triumph and MG owners.
“I helped my father maintain his cars when I was a lad, and started working on cars and motorcycles in the garage after class during high school,” he said.
After graduating high school, Anton attended SIU Carbondale, where he “found his calling” through automotive technology classes.
“Being able to help someone with an automotive problem that needs to be solved is incredibly rewarding,” he said. “I feel blessed with the ability to serve the public in that way.”
Anton spent many years as an automotive instructor in the auto/diesel department at the University of Alaska, and owned and maintained an auto parts store and service center in Alaska at the same time. He also has been certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence in all 12 areas.
When it came to the new enterprise, Anton has been involved in every aspect of the business, from finding the property to clearing the land, putting together a solid business plan, supervising construction, and — what he considers perhaps the greatest challenge thus far — installing the electrical system for the large building.
Bill and Ellen Anton describe the Oct. 10 event as “the softest of grand openings.” A+ Automotive was introduced to the public through a ribbon-cutting with the RiverBend Growth Association and musical performances by the Ralph Butler Group and the Acousticats.
“A lot of guys brought their antique cars out, we served brats, and it was a lot of fun,” Anton said.
The new building, just across from the Alton Amtrak station, includes a three-bay garage and large office area. Although work is still being done on the building, automotive services have begun, Anton said.
“Whenever you come to A+ Automotive, you’ll be sure to receive personalized service, a strong educational background and expert technicians,” he said. “We’re hoping to bring full-scale restoration in-house in the near future, as well as fleet service for hospitals, service companies and car rental places.
“Things are taking off, as if the business has a mind of its own.”
With steady growth over the next few months, Anton says new and recent graduates from the Lewis and Clark Community College and Renken Technical College automotive programs will be needed.
“Both colleges have excellent programs, and I’d be thrilled to have new graduates come to A+ Automotive soon,” he said.
A+ Automotive is open 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. For information, call (618) 462-1483.
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