Working in a public accounting practice during the day and attending class at La Salle at night, Phil Fisher, ’61, paid his dues in order to earn his degree and begin his career. All of his hard work was in service of one goal—to see his name at the top of a company’s letterhead.
“From the early stages when I started at La Salle, I wanted one day to become president of a company,” Fisher said. “I wanted to reach the pinnacle, and I always had that drive.”
Mission accomplished: Fisher is Executive Vice President of Keystone Shipping Co. and President of its parent company, Chas. Kurz & Co., Inc. In all, he has worked for the Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based companies for 47 years, but his relationship to the companies goes back even further—from 1958 to 1966, he worked on the Keystone audit and later became the audit partner of a firm that merged with KPMG. He moved over to the client side when he was offered the position of Keystone’s Chief Financial Officer.
Chas. Kurz & Co., Inc’s business is shipping. The company and its affiliates run an ocean shipping fleet that transports products of all kinds, including crude oil, iron ore, coal, and military equipment, around the world. Fisher’s role requires him to work with the government, the military, multi-national oil and chemical companies, major financial institutions, international insurance companies, shipyards, and labor unions to keep the company’s operations running smoothly.
Fisher has received numerous accolades for his service to the maritime industry and for his philanthropy. He recently received the 2013 Admiral of the Ocean Sea Award from the United Seamen’s Service, and he was honored as Man of the Year for 2008 by the Maritime Port Council of Greater New York, which is composed of more than 500,000 members. Also in 2013, he was awarded the Philadelphia Pinnacle Award for outstanding achievements and philanthropy.
Fisher also serves on the Board of Directors of North of England Mutual Insurance Association (Bermuda) Ltd., as a member of the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Country Club, and as a member for more than 40 years of the Union League of Philadelphia. He is a trustee for a number of maritime unions and is President of the Tanker Service Committee, a collective bargaining group.
“The accounting education I received at La Salle led me on the path and got me to where I am today,” he said. “The University motivated me to pursue an MBA and to become a CPA.”
Among Fisher’s mentors at La Salle was accounting professor Joseph Markmann, ’49, who hired him to work in his accounting practice.
“That experience really stimulated me and got me moving along in public accounting,” he said. “The personal guidance and professional approach they took in the accounting program certainly prepared me for public accounting and the corporate world.”