Keith Ramey grew up in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, where he learned the value of a dollar at a young age. He recalls his father had tuberculosis, so his mother did her best to provide for her seven children by working as a housekeeper. Ramey took a job at his grandfather’s sawmill at the age of twelve to help support the family.
“My grandfather and my uncle lived next door and I spent a lot of time with them because the food was good,” says Ramey.
At age 16, Ramey moved to the city to seek a brighter future for himself. He took a job as a pastry chef at the Nova Scotia hospital and lived with his brother in Eastern Passage. That’s where he met the love of his life, Marilyn.
“There were these community parties where young people would gather. One night, Keith showed up with his guitar and started singing. That was the beginning of everything,” says Marilyn Ramey.
Not long after that fateful party, the young couple got married and Ramey landed a good job at an aircraft manufacturing plant in Dartmouth. He worked hard, impressed his superiors and got promoted to an office job. During that time, Ramey also served in the military as an army reservist and moonlighted in the evenings as a door-to-door salesman.
Keith Ramey dressed in his Army Reservist uniform in 1954.
“That’s how I learned to sell. I used to sell silverware to young women for their hope chests in the evenings.”
Ramey recognized that he had a natural talent for sales and decided to take a leap of faith to start interning with Service Investments. It was a risky move with a wife and young children to support, but he knew in his heart it would pay off in the long run.
“I’m always on the move. I’m a bit more aggressive than most people!” says Ramey.
Folks in the financial world took notice of Ramey and his career flourished. Eventually, he felt confident enough to strike out on his own. In 1975, Ramey opened K.C. Ramey and Associates on Octherloney Street in downtown Dartmouth.
“I always worked all day until 11 o’clock at night. Sometimes it was 2 a.m. when I got home. Marilyn took care of the kids. I had to go to work and make money,” says Ramey.
Keith Ramey in 1967.
Ramey says, at first, he had to convince people to take a calculated risk with their earnings. People were accustomed to saving money, not investing for growth.
“I just had a meeting with one of my earliest clients. Two schoolteachers who believed in me and invested $15 per month. They have more than 2 million dollars in their account now,” says Ramey.
Since those early days, Ramey’s business has also grown exponentially. He moved to larger and larger spaces until 2000, when he and his sons Tim and Gary purchased the old Woolworth’s building at the corner of Portland and King Streets. In 2016, Ramey Investments sold to national firm, Assante Wealth Management.
“Up until that point, we were the last remaining independent investment advising company in Nova Scotia,” says Ramey.
At the age of 84, Keith says he has plans to retire in the near future. He and Marilyn go in to work at the office several days per week. His son Tim now runs the show, with grandson Luc now a full-time employee as well as other advisors, Blaine Conrad, Ralph Wilson and Paul S. Nauss. The family lost their son Gary in 2018, but his presence is very much a part of the Ramey family business. His baby grand piano welcomes clients as they enter the lobby.
“My dad worked day and night, for many years, to provide his family with a good life. To give us kids more than he had growing up,” says Tim Ramey.
The Ramey family now owns several businesses, including Blomidon Estate Winery. When asked for the secret of his success, Ramey says hard work. But he says you don’t have to be rich to become financially independent.
“Take a portion of what you’ve earned, ten per cent if possible - and invest it. You work hard for your money, make sure your money works hard for you.”
Portrait taken in 2021 by James Arthur MacLean Photography
Profile written by Crystal Garrett