On a rainy afternoon in February, at Farley’s, on 18th and Missouri streets, Keith Goldstein, 66, talked to the View about how he came to retire.
Goldstein, the founder and and now former chief executive officer of Everest Waterproofing, was raised in public housing in Whitechapel, London. He first moved to Potrero Hill forty years ago. After bouncing around doing odd-job painting work, in 1976 he landed a position as a waterproofer with Gitane Waterproofing.
It took 23 years, but eventually Goldstein started his own company, Everest Waterproofing, which he headed for more than a decade and a half before agreeing to sell it to two of his employees earlier this year.
Goldstein serves as the Potrero Boosters’ corresponding secretary, and has been president of the Potrero-Dogpatch Merchant Association (PDMA) for more than ten years. PDMA provides a network and resource for local businesses to fight the growth of chain franchises, navigate municipal regulations, and advocate for neighborhood-friendly public policies. Goldstein is also a former president of the Sealing, Waterproofing, and Restoration Institute, a national trade organization; and a former vice president of Golden Gate Senior Services, which assists developmentally disabled seniors.
Goldstein exuded a quiet pride when describing his role as co-chair in developing the Potrero Hill Festival into an annual, “premier” street festival that takes places every third Saturday in October. He also sits on the Eastern Neighborhood Citizens Advisory Committee, a group that encourages the inclusion of open space, transit improvements, street maintenance, and child care facilities as part of large residential development projects
Goldstein derives particular joy from two projects he describes as his “highlights:” serving as a Saturday food runner for local homeless shelters, and as president of the nonprofit, Nepal Social, Educational, Environmental, Development Services (SEEDS). Goldstein has spent every Saturday for the last 21 years driving to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market to haul away surplus food from vendors and deliver it to local relief houses. He drops-off up to 2,000 pounds of fresh produce at various homeless family-focused shelters, such as St. Martin House of Hospitality on Potrero Avenue, Hamilton Family Center, and Raphael House on Sutter Street. Goldstein finds the work irresistibly rewarding.
During a visit to Nepal as a youth, Goldstein became convinced that the country’s open and welcoming population deserved better access to first-world resources. In 1998, he co-founded Nepal SEEDs, an organization that raises funds to help build health clinics, schools, water delivery infrastructure, biogas systems, and environmental restoration in an area of the Himalayas so remote that such services would otherwise be unavailable. SEEDS provided seismic upgrades to schools and health facilities after last year’s earthquakes.
Goldstein followed a business practice that’s based on one succinct motto, given to him by his dad: “Don’t be greedy.” Everest Waterproofing was sold last month. Goldstein is looking forward to “doing a lot of traveling” with his wife of 37 years, Donna, taking saxophone lessons, and expanding his involvement in his various volunteer organizations, especially Nepal SEEDS. “My personal philosophy has been that the bottom line is not the dollar sign, but to have a satisfied customer and to be recognized as an asset to the community,” he said.