The schools and community of Longview, Washington have long supported the development of outstanding individuals whose contributions have enriched the city, state, nation, and world. We would like to take some time to highlight some of these notable individuals and the nurturing community from which they came. These bright spots in the Longview community exemplify the values that the Longview School District aims to instill in all of its students and serve as beacons of integrity, passion, and brilliance. Here, we introduce the next of many notable Longview Luminaries.
“There was a sense that ‘I can be somebody and make a difference,’” he recalled.
“Maybe it’s that underdog concept that we didn’t come from Mercer Island or Bainbridge Island or Lake Oswego, but we can compete head to head, because we can outwork them, we have more drive, we have more determination—and when they sleep we’ll work. That kind of grit mindset came through,” said the Mark Morris High School Class of 1984 alumnus.
Last year his work—as president and general manager of Crown Iron Works—included 260,000 miles of air travel. The company has plants in 80 countries and offices all over the world, and Antilla is responsible for everything—from the balance sheet to innovation to sales to hiring.
Based in Minnesota, Crown designs plants for companies like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, which process canola, soybeans and sunflower seeds, and refine vegetable oil and biodiesel fuel.
“Two thirds of the oilseeds in the world go through Crown Iron Works equipment,” Antilla said.
After graduating from Mark Morris, Antilla earned an English major at Carleton College in Minnesota and started working at Cargill, where he spent 25 years. He also earned an MBA in finance. Three years ago, he took the post at Crown Iron Works.
Asked what his high school-era self would make of the career he found, Antilla thought for a while. Then he said three things have always been a priority for him: enjoying what he’s doing, enjoying the people he’s working with and being challenged to learn new things.
“There were some tough times, but for the most part, on average, I’ve stayed true to those values,” he reflected. “My Mark Morris self would be proud that I stayed true to my self of all those years ago—what I stood for as an idealistic kid.”
Now Antilla inspires the next generation by mentoring high school students in his Minnesota community. He is especially interested in giving underdog students a boost.
“With the right attitude, you can take a risk, and then you build the confidence that you can do great things,” he said.
Bill Antilla’s advice to this year’s graduates: “Embrace the unknown, go someplace new, do something different, and do what you love. It sounds like a cliché, but the people that I’ve seen that have grown the most are the ones who took a risk, embraced the unknown, experienced something different. You have a better idea of what’s going on in the world when you do that. And if you do what you love, it makes a difference. It makes it easier to get out of bed Monday morning.”