Michael Fox was born and raised in a small town in Illinois, U.S.A. His first knowledge about Belize was in the early 1980's through a Belizean client of his in Chicago whom he was helping begin a small business importing Belizean products to the U.S. For over a dozen more years the name "Belize" kept coming to Michaels' attention. "I felt I was being called to Belize," he said.
Following graduation in 1965 from the University of Illinois, Urbana, Michael joined Arthur Andersen at its Chicago headquarters. For eleven years he provided accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting services to numerous companies in various industries, both publicly and privately owned. From 1976 -1987 he served as Chief Financial Officer (or a similar title) for a collection of medium and large corporations, including "Dr. Scholl's", but mainly in privately-held entrepreneurial enterprises.
In 1988, Michael began specializing as an independent consultant to companies in distress as a result of eroding operations and finances. He provided crisis management direction, financial counseling, and overall guidance to these companies. In such environments, he was usually the principal negotiator and chief strategist. Engagements frequently involved informal business valuations to owners, analyses of operations, preparations of business plans for recovery, procurement of capital, or holding positions such as Acting Chief Financial Officer in an effort to stabilize operations and restore profitability. Collateral work sometimes involved fraud investigations, due diligence reviews, or the purchase or sale of businesses. As a turnaround specialist, Michael developed a Turnaround Conference for accountants, conducted seminars, authored articles and a handbook on the subject, and was recognized by Crain's Chicago Business for his outstanding plan to turnaround a complex enterprise in decline.
Michael met his wife, Cheryl, a geriatric professional, on his 51st birthday in 1994, and they married on December 30th, 1995 (as a professional drummer, the 31st was reserved for a "gig" with his jazz and blues band). Together they came to Belize for three weeks following that "mystical calling" and feeling that if they were truly being called to Belize, something would happen while here to confirm the "call". Something did happen.
While in Belize, he met with Pannell Kerr Forster accounting firm, an independently owned worldwide organization of public accountants. This firm had desires to open a branch office in San Pedro to service the potential clients that were available due to the town's growth. A large number of businesses being opened in Ambergris Caye were mainly U.S. investors and Michael being an American CPA made the perfect business combination. After a three hour meeting with the firm on Thanksgiving Day, he agreed to move to Belize. One year later, October 1996, Mr. and Mrs. Fox arrived in Belize; their new home.
In San Pedro, Michael opened Pannell Kerr Forster on December 1st, 1996 at Island Plaza. Since that time the business has grown 600% and he has increased his staff from one to four people. The office was relocated to a larger space as of February 1st. Michael told the San Pedro Sun, " For ten years this has been my specialty. To help stabilize companies and keep them in business. We repair troubled companies, businesses that are losing money and accumulating debts. Here in Belize a number of businesses have financial difficulties. They have sought our services to fix their problems. Leading them through recovery provides tremendous personal satisfaction and validates my being called to Belize."
Recently the Fox's bought a house on Ambergris Caye. Aside from making that a home, Mrs. Fox has devoted her time to the community. Cheryl has been on the Board of Directors of the Ambergris Historical Society Museum since its inception. She has taught arts and crafts and music at Lydia's Institute of Fine Education and done private tutoring. She is presently a full time nanny and owner of WARPAINT Cosmetic Shop.
Michael's accomplishments include being a member of: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Belize, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Illinois CPA Society, and Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. While in Chicago, Michael was active at the Illinois CPA Society serving on various committees, including the Consulting and Business Valuations Committees. He is also an Accredited Arbitrator and Mediator and for eight years was Senior Arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois. He has been recognized and honored by his alma mater and several other organizations for his contributions and accomplishments. In Belize, Michael is active in American Business Council (Director and Treasurer), Belize Business Bureau, and Belize Tourism Industry Association. He also authored a business and finance column, "$ & $en$e", for the Sun.
Michael and Cheryl are happy with their new home, San Pedro. Mr. Fox mentioned, "We enjoy the small town environment, its friendly people and admire the trust and respect for each other. Since we are both from small towns, we feel right at home and that we've come full circle with our lives, but now with the knowledge and wisdom gained over 35 years of professional experiences."
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