Glen E. Roney, Banking Icon of South Texas

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Glen E. Roney, Banking Icon of South Texas
Glen E. Roney and his wife Rita K. during Border Texan of the Year in Hidalgo, Texas. Photo By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

He grew up in the beginning of the depression and emerged as one of the great bankers of all time

Texas Border Business

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez,

Businesspeople of the area are of the opinion that Glen Roney is a super banker. A banker who builds communities using knowledge, experience, and a lending style based on the pleasure of seeing people succeed. In the South Texas community he has served, Mr. Roney is considered a banking icon.

Mr. Roney what do you think about these comments? “Thank you that is a real complement,” Roney said as he enjoyed a cup of coffee in his office on the eleventh floor of BBVA Compass Bank in McAllen.

“I am honored to receive those compliments, but at the same time I felt it was my responsibility as the head of the banking administration to provide service to the community.” He added that any time you make a loan there are some risks involved. According to him, his organization always tried to carefully weigh the risks in order to prevent failures.

The first time this reporter heard the name Glen Roney was during the construction of the 17 story building which became the McAllen State Bank headquarters. The original bank was located at 100 south Broadway, where IBC Bank currently has its McAllen headquarters. “We stayed there until we moved into our new 17 story building in 1979.”

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“That building was just opened when I came to McAllen in 1961 and started working for McAllen State Bank owned by Vernon F. “Doc” Neuhaus,” Mr. Roney said. “I came in as the No. 2 man, as senior officer and director of the bank.”

Mr. Roney was involved in purchasing the old McAllen high school property between Austin and Chicago and south 10th Street, which was demolished to make room for the tall building that sits there now.

“We planned for a long time so we could use the property better. We originally had a plan to build the bank on the northwest corner closer to the old bank building on Broadway with plans to connect both buildings,” he stated. Then one day he had the bright idea to build a high-rise in the center of the property and to make it their bank headquarters.

Mr. Roney told Texas Border Business that he went to “Doc” Neuhaus the principal shareholder at McAllen State Bank and proposed the idea to him. “Mr. Neuhaus was always interested in making things happen so I asked him, “What do you think if we scrap all these other ideas and plans and just put a building in the middle of the property?” Neuhaus’ response was immediate, “I think it’s a damn good idea.”

While the building was still under construction, this reporter toured the high-rise with Doug Schneider. Schneider was in charge of overseeing the construction of the building until it was finished in 1979.

History says that Mr. Roney came to McAllen State Bank in 1961 at a time in which there were only two banks in town. People who have lived in McAllen or surrounding cities know that First National Bank back then was referred to as the “Bentsen bank” and McAllen State Bank as the “Neuhaus Bank”.

According to Roney, both banks were very small operations. The Bentsen bank was about $15 million in capital and assets and McAllen State Bank was even smaller, about $12 million.

Mr. Roney pointed out that eventually they caught up with First National and grew to about $850 million. “Unfortunately,” he said, “we made the mistake of merging with First City Houston not knowing that they were about to be in big trouble.”

Not too long after this merger, on August 10, 1983 Vernon F. “Doc” Neuhaus passed away and Roney became chairman of the board, staying with the bank until 1985.

Going back in time, in 1981, Mr. Roney in association with a group of local business leaders founded Texas State Bank. In 1983 Texas Regional Bancshares, Inc. was organized as a Holding Company for Texas State Bank with both being headquartered in McAllen.

Over the next 20 years, Texas State Bank grew to over 70 banking locations with assets exceeding $7 Billion. Texas Regional Bancshares, Inc. became a publicly traded company in 1993.

“I have always said we have nothing to sell in this bank except service. We became one of the largest if not the largest chartered bank in the state of Texas,” Mr. Roney said.

The business was doing well; they began to have a good rate of success, and started to expand, grow and move into other areas by acquiring a fairly sized bank organization headquartered in Beaumont, Texas with branches along the east Texas border.

Mr. Roney has always said that for a community to grow it has to have financial resources. He is fully aware that as they helped businesspeople succeed, the return was clear; this helped the bank to grow.

What made you decide to sell to BBVA? “I am going to give you a little bit of background information,” he said. “The Spaniards from (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria “BBVA”) had been visiting me for the past three years (prior to 2006) on the last visit they said, “We apologize for coming back to keep bothering you about the bank but we have a sincere interest in making you part of our organization. If you are not ever going to consider it, tell us and we’ll quit bothering you”.

Apparently that comment triggered something in Mr. Roney. “I told them that I was going to think about it and would call them in a couple of weeks.”

So Mr. Roney began talking with his larger shareholders and board members concluding that they had to take a serious look at the BBVA request. BBVA made a substantial offer that became one of the highest sales prices ever made in the state of Texas.

In November of 2006 Texas Regional Bancshares, Inc. and its subsidiary Texas State Bank were sold to Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (“BBVA”). During this period, Mr. Roney served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of both the Bank and the Holding Company. “We sold the Texas State Bank chain for $2.165 billion cash,” he said.

Mr. Roney explained that most of the trades with US banks would be for all stock or good stock and some cash. “This deal was all cash.” He added that the way this transaction was dealt took away the risk of going through another First City Bank Houston ordeal where stock became worthless.

On March 12, 2008, all of the Texas based banks owned by BBVA, including Texas State Bank, were merged into Compass Bank’s charter with Texas State Bank serving as a Division of Compass Bank. “The merging into one single brand came with many changes,” he said.

 

50 Successful Years in McAllen

At the time he sold the bank, Mr. Roney entered into a contract to stay on board for five years. “My contract expires in November of this year which marks my 50th year in McAllen.” Mr. Roney was asked to stay on in the same position as a board member and to continue to keep his offices on the eleventh floor. “I have tentatively agreed to do that,” he said.

“My involvement today is purely as a board member of the holding company that owns the banks as well as the BBVA Compass Bank itself,” he told Texas Border Business. Roney said that he does not have anything to do with the day-to-day management of the bank.

The challenges for him as a banker were the in late eighties and early nineties tough economic times and lots of real estate loans. “It was when we had an over supply of real estate. We have always had substantial real estate loans but that is how you grow and build a community,” he said.

He pointed out that those were very challenging times adding that every time something happens in the economy the banking industry get new regulations on how to manage a bank and make it very expensive to operate. “There are regulations for everything, but lately it is the tight monitoring of deposits and the sources of funds and how they came about.”

What is the difference between lending today and the early nineties? “Not too much difference, however today we have more regulation.” He said that the regulators are very tight with credit and anything that looks like real estate is viewed as a bad deal, particularly subdivisions.

 

Bank regulations an obstacle for lending institutions

Do you think that banking regulations are hurting the daily operation of a bank? “Very much so,” he replied. He noted that the reason for the regulations is to avoid bank failures but he adds that it is important to find a solution to credit before you take somebody’s head off. Try to find ways to work things out and frequently you can do that,” he said.

Mr. Roney said that his greater pleasure through the years as a banker is being able to bank someone and see him or her succeed.

What inspired you to become a banker? “I needed a job,” he said. “The only reason I didn’t get the janitor’s job is because he was there before I got to the bank,” he said this jokily.

 

The creation of an International Trade Zone

Mr. Roney feels the Valley is resilient and this is his explanation. “Well, first let’s talk about McAllen. We have had very good businesspeople providing leadership in this area for many years. You can go back and look at previous Mayors; none of them had a personal interest in trying to gain from their position. They all were interested in building the city. I was fortunate enough to be involved with many of them going back to Paul Veale, Jack Whetsel and to some extent with Othal Brand, Sr.; they were the people that helped lay the background for building the city.”

During those times, a group of leaders were in the process of getting a trade zone status approved by the feds. It is known how tedious it can be to deal with the federal branch in getting things moving forward. This group was relentless and focuses in making this happen. “I was involved when we organized the International Free Trade Zone; this project took several years to get it approved,” he said.

Mr. Roney remembers that Tom Bradshaw who was in the construction field; John Freeland an attorney; as well as Vannie Cooke who was also very interested in what was happening in the area, took part in the effort of getting approval for the free trade zone. “The city leadership that I mentioned earlier was all involved as well,” he said.

Mr. Roney pointed out that they had been trying to get the free trade zone approved for a long time; Mr. Neuhaus helped arrange a meeting with former President George H.W. Bush, Sr. who at the time was a congressman.

“A group of us went to Houston and met with Mr. Bush and talked about the free trade zone and solicited his help in trying to get it approved.” That worked, because not long after the project was approved. “I’d like to give former President George Bush Sr. credit for helping us to get this approved,” Mr. Roney said.

Mr. Neuhaus and George Bush Sr. were good friends, and by Mr. Roney’s account Mr. Bush Sr. made several trips to the Valley before and after he became president of the United States.

Once the International Trade Zone was in place, it was former Mayor Othal Brand Sr. who saw and understood the value and used it as a platform to build from there. “I give Mike Allen an awful lot of credit for the successes that the trade zone has had. Through so many years, he certainly provided the direction of leadership that it needed to be a success.”

Glen Roney was born in Winkler, Texas a little village near Corsicana where he grew up. He attended a small business school called Chillicothe College in Chillicothe, Missouri as well as banking schools, which helped him to start a job in the banking industry in San Benito, Texas at a very young age.

Mr. Roney recalls living in the beginning of the depression of the 1930s. His parents Coyde and Jewell Roney owned a small grocery store and they sold merchandise to people on credit. The communities all around were made of farmers. “The depression came and the prices of commodities were next to zero; my Dad lost everything,” he said.

After that he decided to enlist with the air force and served a little over four years. “I was stationed in Japan during the Korean war.” he said. He came back to work at the San Benito bank in January 1956 until he moved to McAllen in 1961.

Mr. Roney has been married to Rita K. Roney for more than thirty years. They have three children: Elaine Roney Bready (Doug), Stephen Roney (Pat) and Mark Voss (ReBecca). They have been blessed with four grandchildren.

No one can dispute that Glen E. Roney is a respectable philanthropist who is committed to his community and providing banking services which have helped to create thousands of job opportunities for the region. He is also responsible for the creation of two high-risers that have beautified McAllen and have brought attention and recognition to the region as well.

All that said; it is important to note that his lending style fueled by his pleasure of seeing people succeed in business has made the most impact in the economy and life of south Texans.

He believes that in order for cities and communities to grow and progress there has to be financial resources available to them. He has been right for the last 50 years, just look around and you’ll see the positive impact of his lending style. TBB

Roberto Hugo Gonzalez is the publisher of Texas Border Business and Mega Doctor News. He is the 2009 SBA Journalist of the Year Award Winner & a 2009, 2012 Paul Harris Award recipient.

 

G. E. Roney Biographical Information

  • Statewide Involvements:

-Governor’s Business Council     April, 1997 to December 2008

-Texas Banker’s Association     April, 1996

Government Relations Council

-Governor’s Task Force Committee on Border Economic Development     1986 To 1990

Past Co-Chairman (Appointed by Governor Mark White)

-Texas Water Development Board     1976 to 1990

(Appointed by Governor Dolph Briscoe 1976,

Re-appointed by Governors Mark White & William Clements;

Chairman of the Texas Water Resources Finance Authority 1987-1990)

-Texas Water Plan Outside Advisory Panel     1990 to 1993

(Past Member)

-Texas Research League – Past Member of the Board of Directors     1986

-Texas Taxpayer’s Association – Past Member of the Board of Directors     1983

-Political Action Committee of Texas     1991

Director and Member

-Texas Taxpayers and Research Association – Director      Present

  • Medical Institution Involvements:

-Scott and White Memorial Hospital, Temple, Texas     1984 to Present

Scott, Sherwood and Brindley Foundation, Temple, Texas

(Board Member for over 20 years, Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Finance Committee)

-Vannie E. Cook, Jr. Cancer Foundation, McAllen, Texas      1988 to Present

(One of the founders and Board Member for many years)

-Rio Grande Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, McAllen, Texas     1977

Director and Member of the Executive Committee

-Texas A & M University Health Science Center Steering Committee     1999

Co-Chairman

-Texas A & M University System Health Science Center Foundation     2002

Board of Visitors of the University of Texas Cancer Foundation     1981 to 1991

For M. D. Anderson Hospital

(Past Board Member)

  • Financial Institution Involvements:

– Texas State Bank, McAllen, Texas     1985 to present

Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

-Texas Regional Bancshares, Inc., McAllen, Texas     1985 to November 10, 2007

Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

-TSB Securities, Inc.     1997 to 2008

Chairman of the Board

-Texas Regional Delaware, Inc.     1997 to 2007

Chairman of the Board

-TSB Properties, Inc.     1998 to 2007

President

-Texas Department of Banking     January, 2001 to 2008

Commissioner’s Counsel under Commissioner Randall S. James

-Texas Bankers Association

(Past Director)

-Rio Grande Valley Bankers Association

(Past President and Director)

-Independent Banker’s Association     1989-1990

Legislative Committee

-First City Bancorporation, Inc.

(Past Director)

-McAllen State Bank     1961 to 1985

(Past Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer)

-Harlingen State Bank, Harlingen, Texas     1974

(Past Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer)

(Merged with Texas State Bank)

-Mid Valley Bank, Weslaco, Texas     1988

(Past Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer)

(Merged with Texas State Bank)

-San Benito Bank and Trust Co.     1958 to 1961

(Past Director and Vice President)

-First State Bank and Trust Company, Edinburg     1970 to 1971

(Past Director)

  • Educational Involvements:

-South Texas College Board of Trustees     1993 to 2004

(Appointed by Gov. Ann Richards 1993; Elected to serve second term in May, 1998)

(Past Chairman; Past Vice Chairman, Secretary, & Chairman of the Finance

and Resources Committee and the Facilities Committee)

-University of Texas System

Executive Committee of the Chancellor s Council     1995 to present

Business Advisory Council of University of Texas, Pan American     1981-1984

(Chairman in 1981)

-Council of South Texas Economic Progress (CoStep)     Feb, 1995 to present

(Board Member)

-South Texas Higher Education Authority     1977 to 1991

(Past Board Member)

-Texas State Technical Institute – McAllen Extension     1989 to 1992

Member of Advisory Committee

  • City of McAllen Involvements:

-McAllen Affordable Homes, Inc.     1989 to 1993

(Past President and Director)

-McAllen Economic Development Corporation

(Past Board Member)

-McAllen International Trade Zone, Inc.

(Past Board Member)

-Rio Grande Children’s Home Foundation (Past Board Member)

-Rio Grande Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America (Past Council Member)

-McAllen International Museum

Board of Trustees     1992 to 1996

-Salvation Army     1979

Member of the Board of Directors

-McAllen Methodist Hospital (now McAllen Medical Center)     1981

Director and President to the Board

-Board of Governors, Boys & Girls Clubs of McAllen     2007

  • Awards Received:

-1990   Border Texan of the Year – Hidalgo, Texas Chamber of Commerce

– 1991   Founder’s Day Honoree for the University of Texas – Pan American

– 1992   Distinguished Service Award of the University of Texas

Pan American – Alum. Association

-1992   Boy Scouts of America – Distinguished Citizen Award

-1994   Heart of Gold Award, Upper Valley Division of the American Heart Association

-1996   Small Business Administration

Financial Service Advocate of the Year

-1997   South Texas Symphony Association

Cultural Leader of the Year Award, Nov. 1997

-McAllen Masonic Lodge

Community Builders Award

-Outstanding Man of the Year

McAllen Chamber of Commerce

-Torch of Liberty Award

Anti-Defamation League, Southwest Region (Houston)

-Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award

-2008 – Inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame