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Building a $2.5 billion-dollar business: How Keith Neumeyer outsmarted the market

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From desolate mines to multi-billion-dollar companies, Keith Neumeyer's relentless vision and stubbornness made it possible. How he outsmarted the market, went for silver when nobody else was and created an empire. Full interview LIVE NOW!

"In 2003, I took one of my directors down with me and we're looking at a particular asset (La Parilla). It was a little postage stamp of a property, shut down in 98, there's an old mill on site, the town was a ghost town. We show up, look at it, we went underground, we come out, we're standing on a hill at the end of the day and I ask my head geo at the time, ‘Hey look, what do you think,' he said, ‘There's a 100 million ounces of silver here."

This was the start of Keith Neuemeyer and First Majestic Silver, now a $2.4B market cap company. Similar to a lot of the most successful mining companies, Keith started where nobody else was looking. He stubbornly bet on silver, when nobody in the markets seemed to care.

"The crash of 97, 98 basically desolated the mining sector in Mexico. So here I am showing up in 2002 with a checkbook at hand, buying up assets and I had no competition. From 2002-2006, there was nobody around."

Those 4 years proved essential to First Majestic's success. While the mining industry was coming off one of its worst downturns, Keith was aggressive, rapidly building up his portfolio. First Majestic acquired the San Martin and La Encantada properties in Mexico.

When I asked Keith how he judges a property, he replied:

"I need to have a thesis around how I am going to go and bring this asset into production, I don't want to punch holes in the ground, I don't want that to be the basis of my investment. I want something that's sitting there already, that's defined."

"Mining is one of the riskiest businesses on the planet and I want to at least have something definable, that I can touch and feel. I can bring these ounces into a mill, produce it at a profit and make a business out of it."

Everything was in place, Keith and First Majestic hedged everything they had and bet on silver. They were all in. Now it was just up to the bull market that Keith had predicted.

"When silver was at $5, I put the company together and I predicted $50 silver. I told my investors that was my projection. It took longer than I expected, it didn't happen until April 2011 but nevertheless, it did happen. The stock was fantastic, everyone made a lot of money."

First Majestic had made it big, Keith's relentless vision was being executed to perfection. The mining industry was prospering.

"Gold hit a little over $1900, copper was $4.50, zinc was up, all the metals, everything, oil was up, uranium, it was a generational shift."

"It was a macroeconomic environment basically driven by China and technology. We were moving from the 70s, 80s into the 2000s where there was virtually no investment and a very lack of supply of all the critical metals and it created this enormous bull market."

The timing couldn't have been better. However, even with fantastic timing, few entrepreneurs could turn an abandoned, desolate mine in Mexico into a $2.5 billion dollar business. For the next few minutes of our conversation, Keith and I focused on some of his entrepreneurial secrets to success, here were my favorite quotes:

"You've got to rely on your brain and just be visual about it. I want to get a Ferrari, if that's your goal and that's what you visualize, then you visualize it every single day and it will be surprising how your brain figures out how to do it."

"There's a fine line of managing a business and it really comes down to surrounding yourself with people you trust. Give them enough authority, give them enough power to make decisions within the business that's going to ultimately impact the business positively but at the same time, be involved enough where your vision is still maintained."

"Everyone has to be laser focused on the vision at hand, this is where we're trying to get to and as the leader, you have to stick handle making sure that the group of individuals around you, doesn't matter how many, are all focused on the same vision."

"What is the #1 quality you think all entrepreneurs should have? Stubbornness. What is the #1 piece of advice you would give to an entrepreneur today? Stay focused. How do you successfully lead a billion dollar company? Communication."

"Now that your company is one of the big ones, what do you do to keep yourself in that position? M&A is very important, we built this business through mergers and acquisitions and that has to continue. Geology, exploration, all that is very important but you're not going to grow the business by multiple times. In order to double the size of your business, you need to do it through M&A."

If you enjoyed this little article summary of my interview with Keith Neumeyer, please do check out the Youtube video, there's a bunch more fantastic topics we talk about.

For updates on my interview, follow me on Twitter! 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.