Life is full of twists and turns. You expect to do this, but yet you do that and at the end of the day, you realize that it was the unexpected that was the most fulfilling. This certainly was the case for Michael Andress.
Michael has always been a go-getter who enjoys new challenges. “I always believed that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. My parents certainly encouraged me in that regard,” he said.
His father was an electrical inspector for Burnaby and after retirement became an electrical contractor. His mother, meanwhile, looked after the affairs of the house and encouraged her four children.
Michael, who was the youngest, was quite enterprising. “I had a paper route and saved up my money to buy my first bike and by the time that I was 15, I got a job with the fourth McDonalds in Canada. I quite enjoyed it and I rose up the ranks to assistant manager. I even shot three commercials with Ronald,” he chuckled.
Michael had always planned on going to BCIT after graduating from high school to get a diploma in business management but his plans fell short. After graduation, he was offered a chance to attend Hamburger University in Chicago as well as being offered a position with Holmes Hamburger Houses in England. “A good friend of mine in school had an uncle who had a partnership with the Holmes chain and I decided to go to London as opposed to Chicago. McDonalds was not involved in the British market at that time,” he said.
He ended up staying in London for about two years and quite enjoyed the experience. “It was my first time away from home, especially in a different country and it was a different culture. The weather was rather cold and damp, though. I certainly learned a lot and I even got to travel to the mainland. We used to buy our milkshake mix in powder form and once a month I’d travel to Holland to make the purchase,” he explained. After two years, he realized that it was time to head back home.
“I came back to Vancouver and a buddy of mine told me that the Teamsters were hiring. I went to the union hall and within two days I was hired as a truck driver. I eventually became a long-haul trucker, hauling goods from the Yukon to California,” he said. Michael’s trucking career went on for 10 years but was not a job that was compatible with his marriage and it eventually fell part.
“As my marriage started going south, I decided to return to school to follow my original plan. I did one year at UCFV and two years at BCIT and received my diploma in financial management.” With a diploma in hand, Michael returned to truck driving as he waited for a job in his chosen vocation. During this time, he applied for a business management position with School District 33 and one week after an interview, he was hired as the business manager for Chilliwack Senior Secondary. He was very busy during the five years that he was with the school and amongst other things, was involved in the first computer network implementation in both the classrooms and offices.
Michael was eventually offered a position as a food controller for a food corporation in San Francisco and he jumped at the opportunity. While he was living in the Bay area, he decided to come home for a skiing vacation in Blackcomb. “Unfortunately, I fell and travelled 1000 feet on my back. It was quite the accident,” he smiled. After the accident, he decided that it was time to change direction and became a consultant for ACCPAC which is accounting software for businesses. “I did this for two years in California then I came back up to Chilliwack and started up a similar business here,” he said.
In 1998, Michael became a partner in an accounting firm in Richmond. “While I was there, we received a call from Panama Ports Company and they needed help with their data base and their port management system. They called us because on our website we stated that we had ACCPAC and SQL certification and I was the only accountant in the office with both. I solved their problem the first day and they were so pleased that they suggested we bid on their next contract. We did and were successful. For the next two years I was heading to Panama for one to two weeks each month, every six or eight weeks.”
It was during this time that Michael met his future wife. “We were married in 2000 and by 2001, I retired as a partner in the accounting firm and we settled in Panama City.” A year later, he returned to Canada and stayed with friends in Surrey while researching satellite internet technologies. “As it turned out, a friend of mine from Burnaby was returning from Belize for the same purpose. We became dealers and installers for LincSat, a company based out of Toronto. This resulted in us setting up a satellite internet system for forty Washington State parks. We activated their data reservation system and credit card processing. Then in 2005, we separated our business venture and my partner returned to Belize,” he explained. Michael then launched NetKingSat, a company that he continues to run to this day.
Michael, wife Cenobia and children Emily and Gabriell try and visit Panama at least once a year to visit with family and friends. “I know enough Spanish to get around and be dangerous,” he laughed. By nature, he always has to be busy and is always doing something for somebody. “When we go down to Panama, I’m always either doing electrical or plumbing work. I’ve even built a garage using steel posts and a tin roof. It keeps me busy,” he chuckled.