Mitchell J. Krebs lost a lot of sleep over the changes he had to make at Coeur Mining Inc., which may be surprising when you consider the circumstances upon which he became president and CEO in 2011.
At the time, the mining company was based in Idaho and had just topped $1 billion in annual revenue, up from a mere $129 million in 2008. To the casual observer, Coeur Mining was the picture of health, especially when you consider what was happening at other U.S. companies between 2008 and 2011.
“The extent of the company’s growth from 2008 to 2011 was enormous,” Krebs says.
“But when we embarked on all that growth, no one stopped to ask the question of how this organization would support, manage and sustain all the growth we had been experiencing. We came out of that huge growth spurt and were left with the same organizational structure that we had before, only now, it was being asked to run what had become a very substantial company.”
Krebs, who has been with Coeur Mining since 1995, doesn’t try to deflect his own role in the 2,000-employee company’s struggle to keep pace with rapid growth. The company is the largest U.S.-based primary silver producer and a growing gold producer.
“We needed to do things differently going forward not only to manage what we had become, but to think ahead and think about what kind of scalable organization we needed to put in place to support future growth,” Krebs says.
It wasn’t going to be easy, and Krebs faced a lot of resistance to the changes he put on the table for his company. The company was about to leave behind its roots in Idaho for a fresh start in Chicago and Krebs knew many of his employees would not be coming along for the ride.
“I never lost the conviction around what was needed, but the level of pain that I knew was being caused in peoples’ personal lives was a heavy burden,” Krebs says. “If I hadn’t had those trusted team members and a supportive board, it would have been very difficult to get to the other side of the tunnel.”