Southern Cross owners sell up

Founders hand over the reins to longstanding employees

The founders of Melbourne-based integrator, Southern Cross Computer Systems, have sold the business to longstanding employees, Mark Kalmus and Chris Palmer.

Kalmus, who has been with the company for 12 years, the last three as CEO, said he had approached previous owners, Joan and Andy Hegedus, about buying the business 12 months ago. The married couple founded SCCS in 1981 but had not been involved on a day-to-day basis for about three years. Both will now leave the IT industry to pursue other opportunities.

"A year ago, I saw it could be a good opportunity to take over. I saw the market changing and integrators taking on a more value-added role," Kalmus said. "I also saw some gaps in SMB where we can provide end-to-end solutions. That's why we have set up our consulting practice. "At my stage of life, it was also time to put the future into my own hands and take the next step."

Kalmus will be supported by sales manager, Chris Palmer, who has been with SCCS for the past six years. He will now manage all aspects of sales in a new director's role. No other staff changes are planned.

Kalmus said the integrator's managed services and consulting businesses were significant areas of opportunity.

"We've got three people in there now, but in the next three years I expect to grow this to 20-25 people," he said. "We're looking for services sales people that we can bring into the business.

"We'll also continue to grow our infrastructure and professional services organically."

Kalmus said the company had no acquisition plans in his first year of ownership but did not rule out snapping up a company if the opportunity arose. SCCS would also continue to develop its partnering strategy in the business applications space, he said.

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