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Glen E. Roney, Banking Icon of South Texas

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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. PHOTO BY ROBERTO HUGO GONZALEZ
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. 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

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint Edition in 2011

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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 compliment,” Roney said as he enjoyed a cup of coffee in his office on the eleventh floor of BBVA Compass Bank in McAllen.

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“I am honored to receive those compliments, but at the same time I felt it was my responsibility as the head of the banking organization 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.”

“The building on Broadway 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 on South 10th Street, which was demolished to make room for the tall building that sits there now.

“We spent a long time in planning for the best use of this property.  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 Mr. Roney, both banks were very small operations.  The First National Bank was about $15 million in 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 in total assets. “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 Mr. 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 and approximately 2,000 employees.  Texas Regional Bancshares, Inc. became a publicly traded company in 1994.

“I have always said we have nothing to sell in this bank except service.  We became one of the largest state chartered banks in 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 good sized bank organization headquartered in Beaumont, Texas with branches along the East Texas border.  During this growth period they also acquired banks in Houston and Dallas.

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 proposal.  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 part 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. He also pointed out 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 in the 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 would 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 problems 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 greatest pleasure through the years as a banker was 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 focused on making this happen. “I was involved when we organized the International Free Trade Zone.  This project took several years to get approved,” he said.

Mr. Roney remembers that Tom Bradshaw who was in the construction field; John Freeland an attorney; as well as Vannie Cook 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 meeting, the project was approved. “I’d like to give former President George Bush Sr. credit for helping us to get this approved,” Mr. Roney stated.

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 and 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 Clyde 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 less than four years. “I was stationed in Japan during the Korean War.” 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.  They have been blessed with four grandchildren, one great-grandson, and another great-grandchild on the way.

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 management style.

GLEN E. RONEY – Biographical Information

Statewide Involvements:

1976- 1990   Texas Water Development Board, (1976 Appointed by Governor Dolph Briscoe; 1987- 1990 Re-appointed by Governors Mark White & William Clements; Chairman of the Texas Water Resources Finance Authority)

1977 to present        Vannie E. Cook, Jr. Cancer Foundation, McAllen, Texas, (One of the Founders, Board Member, Treasurer of the Board of Trustees, Member of the Executive Committee)

1981- 1991   Board of Visitors of the University of Texas Cancer Foundation, For M. D. Anderson Hospital (Past Board Member)

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

1984 to present        Scott and White Memorial Healthcare, Temple, Texas, (Board Member for over 27 years, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Finance Committee and Chairman of the Compensation Committee)

1986- 1990   Governor’s Task Force Committee on Border Economic Development, Past Co-Chairman (Appointed by Governor Mark White)

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

1990- 1993   Texas Water Plan Outside Advisory Panel; (Past Member)

1991   Political Action Committee of Texas, Director and Member

1996   Texas Banker’s Association April, 1996, Government Relations Council

1997- 2008   Governor’s Business Council April, 1997 to Dec. 2008

1999   Texas A & M University Health Science Center – Rio Grande Valley Steering Committee Co-Chairman

Financial Institution Involvements:

1958- 1961   San Benito Bank and Trust Co., (Past Director and Vice President)

1961- 1985   McAllen State Bank, (Past Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer)

1970- 1971   First State Bank and Trust Company, Edinburg, (Past Director)

1974   Harlingen State Bank, Harlingen, Texas, (Past Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer) (Merged with Texas State Bank)

1983- 1985   First City Bancorporation, Inc., (Past Director)

1985- 2006   Texas State Bank, McAllen, Texas, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

1985- 2006   Texas Regional Bancshares, Inc., McAllen, Texas, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

1988   Mid Valley Bank, Weslaco, Texas, (Past Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer) (Merged with Texas State Bank)

1989- 1990   Independent Bankers Association, Legislative Committee

1997- 2006   TSB Securities, Inc., Chairman of the Board

1997- 2006   Texas Regional Delaware, Inc., Chairman of the Board

1998- 2006   TSB Properties, Inc., President

2001- 2008   Texas Department of Banking, Commissioner’s Counsel under Commissioner Randall S. James

2001- 2008   Texas Bankers Association, (Past Director)

2001- 2008   Rio Grande Valley Bankers Association, (Past President and Director)

Educational Involvements:

1977- 1991   South Texas Higher Education Authority, (Past Board Member)

1981- 1984   Business Advisory Council of University of Texas, Pan American, (Chairman in 1981)

1989- 1992   Texas State Technical Institute – McAllen Extension, Member of Advisory Committee

1993- 2004   South Texas College Board of Trustees, (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)

1995 to present        University of Texas System, Executive Committee of the Chancellors Council

1995 to present        Council of South Texas Economic Progress (CoStep), (Board Member)

City of McAllen Involvements:

1979   Salvation Army, Member of the Board of Directors

1981   McAllen Methodist Hospital (now McAllen Medical Center) Director

1989- 1993   McAllen Affordable Homes, Inc., (Past President and Director)

1989- 1993   McAllen Economic Development Corporation (Past Board Member)

1989- 1993   McAllen International Trade Zone, Inc. (Past Board Member)

1989- 1993   Rio Grande Children’s Home Foundation (Past Board Member)

1989- 1993   Rio Grande Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America (Past Council Member)

1992- 1996   McAllen International Museum Board of Trustees

2007   Board of Governors, Boys & Girls Clubs of McAllen

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

1992   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

1997   McAllen Masonic Lodge, Community Builders Award

1997   Outstanding Man of the Year, McAllen Chamber of Commerce

1997   Torch of Liberty Award, Anti-Defamation League, Southwest Region (Houston)

1997   Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award

2008   Inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame

Written by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez the 2009 SBA Journalist of the Year Award Winner & The 2009 and 2012 Paul Harris Award recipient.

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