After more than two decades at the helm of XSI Data Solutions, Max Goldsmith has announced plans to retire in September. He formed the Sydney-based storage integrator out of the Remington-owned Systems Industries in 1989, which is where the XSI name came from [ex-Systems Industries].
Systems Industries - which Goldsmith had run as general manager since 1985 - sold third-party disc and tape into the DEC, HP and Data General market. It had been given a rough time by DEC, which Goldsmith said had tried to force it out of the market, but managed to survive. When office equipment company, Remington, decided to offload Systems Industries, he saw an opportunity and went for it.
"I called eight guys into a room and asked them to mortgage their homes and give me the money," Goldsmith recalled. "Seven of them did and we paid the debt off in six months before running the business ourselves for 11 years. Then Powerlan put a big bag of money on the table and we accepted it."
In 2002, Goldsmith manoeuvred XSI safely through the Powerlan Queensland collapse. He had been talking to Powerlan boss, Theo Baker, about
acquiring telecommunications company, Davnet, and ended up engineering a complicated reverse takeover that placed XSI into the hands of UXC.
Goldsmith started his career as a sales trainee with Rank Xerox and left eight years later as a district manager. He also worked for Canon after being hired as one of its first employees in the country before spending a decade at Remington and eventually going out on his own at XSI. Despite his longevity, he said the industry hadn't changed much.
"There are always idiots out there trying to ruin it for everybody else, there are always younger people who come in that are smarter than you and threaten to wipe you out, and the big companies still act like thugs," he said. "But it's an enormously fun industry to be in."
Goldsmith will vacate the CEO's role at XSI in September but plans to stay with the company on an exclusive part-time consultancy basis. Although this will mean he has some extra time on his hands, he has no intention of putting his feet up just yet.
"I've just reached a point where I don't want to be doing this five days a week anymore," he said. "A bunch of my friends have retired so I have many commitments to go trekking, surfing, skiing and play golf.
"I have also been heavily involved in fundraising for Bear Cottage children's hospice in Manly since it opened six years ago."