Tim Nemeckay is a visionary realist. An oxymoron at first blush, the description fits the 50-something Parkite perfectly. The vision: a world-class brewery and restaurant at Kimball Junction, dubbed Mine Shaft Brewing, producing 60,000 barrels of beer and cider a year. The reality: find the resources (about $9 million) and be up and running within the next 18 months. A tall order. Fortunately, the stars are aligning.
Nemeckay savors challenges and expects success, though he's no stranger to setbacks in business. He was in good company when the bottom dropped out of the economy. Everyone suffered flesh wounds, but he was in the bull's eye.
Nemeckay and his family made a major lifestyle change when they moved here from south Florida eight years ago, leaving Washington Mutual Bank to open and manage the Park City branch of American Home Bank. Within months of his arrival, the carnage in the banking industry had left him unemployed.
He had prospered in Boca Raton for over 20 years in the banking and car business before making the leap to Utah and his personal Waterloo. "Yes, it was terrible when the bank went down," he admits, "but the world doesn't stop for anybody. You either fight or give up. I've never been a quitter. I said to myself, 'you know what, I've got an amazing wife, a wonderful daughter and extended family and great people behind me. Press on!'" When he was forced to sink or swim after the dramatic demise of both American Home and Washington Mutual (which owed him a huge pension), he didn't just tread water. That's not his style.
Nemeckay was born and grew up on the east side of Detroit, Michigan, the middle child of seven. It was an era when extended families weren't quite so extended. "We were very close to our grandparents on both sides," says Nemeckay. "My maternal grandfather, Gus, worked for the gas company and was one of the biggest "bookies" in Detroit. When he died, his ashes were scattered over Las Vegas. It was the perfect resting place.
"My paternal grandparents ran a deli on the east side," he continues." My grandmother lost her legs to diabetes in her 30s and was fitted with primitive prosthetics. It didn't stop her for one moment from doing anything she wanted. We boys used to race around the streets in her old wheelchairs," he grins.
Though typical child's play, he says it exposed him to people with disabilities and prosthetics at an early age. "I think a lot of adults are afraid to look at people with disabilities and that's a shame. We never looked at our grandmother as an oddity and that has colored how I look at the physical challenges ever since." Nemeckay, an avid triathlete, says he sees more and more disabled runners and triathletes showing up at races. "It's a great thing," he notes.
Nemeckay, who played hockey in Windsor, Canada, growing up, remembers regular trips to his grandparents' deli after games and the great sandwiches they made. After high school he attended Western Michigan University, where he took a bachelor's degree in Public Relations and Journalism. Two years later he moved to Florida, where he worked in the auto industry for the next 21 years.
Nemeckay met his wife, Anna, in Boca Raton when she caught his eye at a Mizner Park restaurant. They married in 2006. The wedding was delayed initially due to Hurricane Wilma. He recalls the big blow: "Being in the eye of the storm when it passed was pretty amazing. The sun was shining and we could see the walls of the eye." After marrying, Nemeckay adopted Anna's daughter, Lauren.
That same year, the family moved to Park City, where Nemeckay began his short-lived career as a bank manager. Suddenly unemployed for the first time in decades after the banking debacle, he re-created himself and regrouped -- literally. Drawing to his strong suit honed during years in sales and management -- an unerring ability to assemble teams of talented people -- he formed The Nemeckay Group. Flanked by family, close friends and trusted advisors, he embarked on an entrepreneurial odyssey that continues today. In the past few years, Nemeckay has created and stood at the helm of several successful businesses, ranging from green energy providers to a golf training aid.
His latest endeavor promises to be his greatest and potentially most rewarding. As founder and managing member of Mine Shaft Brewing, Nemeckay has built a team of visionary pioneers in craft beer and cider. The team is garnering recognitions and funding for his world-class, state-of-the-art brewery. "I'm very fortunate to be able to bring talented people together. You just have to believe in what you're doing and bring seasoned professionals along for the ride. The hardest part is always raising the money," he says.
Mine Shaft Brewing is a labor of love for Nemeckay. "Ultimately it's just liquid in a bottle, but today brewing involves an enormous amount of technology. We plan to create the best beer and cider in the country. I've got a fantastic brewer on the team and I'm very excited about what is to come. After my wife and my daughter, this is my greatest passion."
Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Favorite things to do: Ski, run, swim, bicycle
- Favorite foods: "Everything except eggplant and soggy bread."
- Favorite reading: Malcolm Gladwell, business publications
- Favorite music: Motown, jazz, country, classic rock and some opera
- Bucket list: Parachute, compete in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii
- Animal companions: Three Labrador retrievers, ages 4-13