, First Majestic Silver Corp. | BCBusiness
Return to: B.C. Entrepreneur of the Year 2011
Congratulations to Keith Neumeyer , president and CEO of First Majestic Silver Corp., the 2011 Pacific Region Entrepreneur of the Year in Mining and Metals.
Growing up in North Vancouver, Keith Neumeyer would walk from his home on Third Street after school, cross the tracks to the docks on Burrard Inlet, and watch the ships come in and the trains roll by.
“I was just very fascinated with industry, and very fascinated with construction. Big things,” he says. Coupling that interest with an equally strong love of rocks, he’s found himself heading First Majestic Silver Corp., one of B.C.’s biggest silver miners, with revenues of $120.8 million in 2010, double its 2009 tally.
What was your first real job?
I had a frigging Province paper route and I was waking up at 4:00 in the morning at 10, 11 years old and riding my bike in godforsaken weather up and down Lonsdale Street, a whole bunch of newspapers on my back.
What was your first big break in your current business?
Having Ramon Davila join me as chief operating officer. He consolidated the talent base in Mexico, which really assisted in putting all the assets together.
Stubbornness. You believe in something and you just have to stick to your guns.
If you were a TV or
character, who would you be?
Neumeyer was drawn to law in high school, but trying to make ends meet during a stint at Capilano College in the early 1980s, he worked the graveyard shift for the Loomis courier company (now part of DHL) and saw packages coming and going to financial institutions. His interest in the financial sector was charged and he dropped school in favour of on-the-job learning. He landed a job on the trading floor of the Vancouver Stock Exchange in 1984 as a board-marker and worked his way into the brokerage business. He was at Midland Doherty (soon to become Midland Walwyn) in 1988, when the restructuring of Canada’s brokerage industry led to layoffs across the industry and he moved into the mining sector.
“It was a natural thing to go work for mining companies because I’d been trading mining companies for five years as a floor trader on the exchange,” he says. And, it took him back to the rocks he loved playing with as a kid.
Neumeyer launched First Quantum Minerals Ltd. in 1992, building it into one of the world’s largest copper producers. The company recorded revenue of US$91 million in 2000, the year he left First Quantum, and today it claims annual revenues of $2.5 billion. Seeing opportunities in the silver sector, Neumeyer launched First Majestic Silver Corp. in 2002.
Asked about his role models, Neumeyer notes an early fascination with Howard Hughes, who hid out in Vancouver when Neumeyer was 12. Neumeyer’s own style is a matter of conscience: he follows his own, and aims to command the trust and allegiance of others rather than impose it.
“It’s this credibility that I strive for in my personal life that I think transfers to other executives in First Majestic,” he says. “It creates a team of individuals that I think works very well together to achieve the things that we’ve achieved to date.”