A Real-Life Inflation Story with Company Executive Keith Roland

Consumer prices in the US are rising at the fastest rate they have in decades.

It’s called inflation. And left unchecked, it can erode your life savings. But don’t stress. This is not the first time we’ve been through it.

Today’s guest, retired company executive Keith Roland, shares his experience with inflation and what you can learn from it to protect your assets.

In this episode, you’ll discover how lessons from the Jimmy Carter era can help protect your assets in today’s turbulent financial times.

Listen now.

Show Highlights Include:

  • The “paper route plus” method that your 13 year old could use to make more than a college student ([6:14])
  • How to retain your business’ team members for decades (even if your competitors are offering a bigger salary) ([7:37])
  • An obvious-but-common financial mistake that erodes your life savings in times of inflation ([9:10])
  • The root cause of “retirees’ guilt” (and how to cure it, while making a little cash on the side) ([12:37])

DLP042 - A Real-Life Inflation Story with Company Executive Keith Roland



Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? Welcome to “Retire in Texas”, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the state of Texas—and, now, here’s your host financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.


Darryl: Hey, this is Darryl Lyons, CEO and co-founder of PAX Financial Group, and you’re listening to Retire in Texas. Thanks for tuning in.

I want to remind you that PAX Financial Group is the sponsor of this program, so be sure to visit PAXFinancialGroup.com. Also, this information is not intended to provide legal, tax or specific investment advice. For that reason, see all the disclosures at PAXFinancialGroup.com.

Also, finally, for those that want to speak to an advisor as a complimentary 15-minute consult, you just text the word “Texas” to the number 74868. That’s “Texas” to 74868. [01:04].4]

Today, a special guest, a longtime friend of the family, Keith Roland. Keith, thanks for coming in. I haven’t seen you in a while. You look good.

Keith: No, it’s been great. I’ve been following your career as we’ve kind of inherited you with a good friend of mine that you were close with his son, and then that’s how the relationship started, so a lot of respect for what you’ve done with this company.

Darryl: Thank you so much and I want to talk about that for a second. Keith was best friends with Paul, right?

Keith: That’s right.

Darryl: Y’all were BFF’s before BFF’s existed.

Keith: Absolutely.

Darryl: And you and Paul Elliot would do life together and go to Vegas and just had a blast, and even when I see you today and you talk, I’m like, Ah, that sounds like Paul. The reason that’s important for me to say is because Paul and Cindy, they were so kind to me growing up because we didn’t have a lot, so they would invite me to go on cruises and other places that our family couldn’t afford and just got exposed to some different things that were just magical to me, so that was very kind of them. [02:08].8]

Keith: They exposed me to a lot of that, too. No, I miss Paul. He was my Texas Longhorn buddy and my Dallas Cowboy buddy, and cruises and Vegas, and we had a great time in church.

Darryl: Yeah, very active in the Nazarene church. Right?

Keith: Yep, so it was a fun time.

Darryl: We’re going to go back a little bit. Did you grow up in this area?

Keith: Nope. I grew up in the Dallas area.

Darryl: Dallas proper or maybe one of the little …?

Keith: Suburbs, yeah. I lived in Plano.

Darryl: Plano.

Keith: I lived in Sherman, Texas. That’s really where I spent some time.

Darryl: Was that a small town at the time?

Keith: Yeah.

Darryl: Yeah, now it’s just kind of swallowed by Dallas.

Keith: Yeah, the Sherman–Denison area has gotten big.

Darryl: You were forced to play football?

Keith: No, I played baseball.

Darryl: Is that right?

Keith: And I tried to make it, went to college in baseball and tried to further it, but I just wasn’t good enough. [03:07].6]

Darryl: Yeah, it’s tough once you get to that level, I mean.

Keith: You’ve got to be great and I wasn’t great, and so I was going to not make any money and starve to death, so I wanted to make money at that age.

Darryl: The Lord had a better plan.

Keith: Yep, that’s right.

Darryl: Growing up, what did your parents do for a living?

Keith: My dad was a Nazarene pastor.

Darryl: Oh, I didn’t know that.

Keith: I was the one that dad said has to help the family because my brother is a Nazarene pastor, my brother-in-law is a Nazarene pastor, and so I guess I’m the black sheep, you would call it, because I didn’t do that.

Darryl: At least you went to the Nazarene Church.

Keith: That’s right.

Darryl: Did your mother work outside the home?

Keith: She was an RN and was, I don’t know how she did it, a pastor’s wife. RN, mother, housekeeper, cook. She was amazing.

Darryl: How many kids? [04:01].5]

Keith: I have one brother and one sister.

Darryl: That’s not a lot of income, if I’m doing the math in my head, for a family.

Keith: We grew up very poor.

Darryl: Okay.

Keith: In fact, the thing I remember the biggest in childhood was coming home and they have what’s called a pounding, where the church people bring canned goods and stuff and they did that for us, and so Mom and Dad were so excited that our cupboards had food in it. But they just trusted that they were doing the right thing and we never hurt for anything. A big change in my life, though. I’m not attending the Nazarene Church anymore.

Darryl: No kidding.

Keith: I really pray about it and I’m going to the Community Bible Church.

Darryl: Yeah, Pastor Ed Newton is a special man.

Keith: That’s right. I’ve grown more–

Darryl: His last two sermons were, I mean, they were on fire.

Keith: This whole series. Do you listen to him?

Darryl: No, but I stalk that church. When you find a good pastor, I listen to the stuff online, yeah. [05:06].0]

Keith: I loved Pastor, but I wasn’t attending then, and then Pastor Ed came and my son started going there and he did a unique thing. He came, of course, my son has a small business, security and water softeners, APEX, and he came to the office and did an out of the blue, just sat down and talked to all his employees about church.

Darryl: Wow.

Keith: And pastor of a large church and for him to take that time.

Darryl: Very influential, yeah.

Keith: It meant a lot to us. That’s what really kicked me over the edge.

Darryl: The reality is when we get to heaven, Jesus never asked, “What denomination were you?”

Keith: Yeah, that’s right.

Darryl: But I really want to double-click on the reality of your life as a pastor’s son and the challenges that exist, and the joy that you have when your pantry is full. I mean, that’s an emotion that never leaves you, both the good, empty pantry and the full pantry. [06:14].7]

Keith: And I guess that’s why I’ve been good with money. We had to save. If I wanted a car, I had to pay for my own car, and I pretty much supported myself since I was 13. Not that my parents wouldn’t. It’s just I was independent and that’s how kind of my dad raised me, and so as much as I could take on, I did at an early age. I used to sell newspaper subscriptions for the Dallas Morning News and I sold more than anybody. I was making more money when I was 13 years old and I did when I was in college.

Darryl: No kidding.

Keith: That’s kind of how I started out.

Darryl: You were the paperboy, huh?

Keith: No, I didn’t. I sold subscriptions just for people to sign up to take the paper.

Darryl: Oh, I see, yeah, you weren’t throwing him in the yard. You were getting him signed up. Okay. [07:03].8]

Keith: That was too much work, throwing them in the yard. I liked to sell.

Darryl: Okay, see, you were figuring out the game of life pretty early.

Keith: Yeah, I did.

Darryl: Where did you end up retiring from?

Keith: I retired here in San Antonio. I was with Genuine Parts Company, which is NAPA Auto Parts. I was the president and general manager over Texas and part of Texas, and took on the country of Mexico, which I did that for several years, and that was very taxing, but it was an incredible experience.

Darryl: How long were you at NAPA?

Keith: Twenty-two years.

Darryl: Yeah, that’s a good run.

Keith: And to be in a corporation for 22 years, that’s enough stress and that was long enough.

Darryl: You were about ready. Now, you were in a position, as I understand it, that you probably could have fought for maybe an executive home office role, if you wanted it.

Keith: Yeah. I just got to a point. People don’t leave jobs. People leave people. [08:06].4]

Darryl: Yep.

Keith: And that’s a theory and I waited for three or four years for the person that I talked to and reported to to move somewhere else and that didn’t work, and so I just said I’d had enough, and 22 years was enough and I was ready to go, but I probably would’ve stayed couple more years if he had–

Darryl: The people make-up was the line for you.

Keith: Because the company, the Genuine Parts Company, was great to me. He was just a cog in the wheel and you don’t get all good people in a company, so I think you leave because of people, not because of the company.

Darryl: That’s a hundred percent true. So, 22 years at NAPA. Now, they changed the name, right? When you were there, it wasn’t NAPA.

Keith: No, it was NAPA.

Darryl: It was NAPA, okay.

Keith: It was disowned by the Genuine Parts Company, which is a Fortune 500 company. They own several different companies, but NAPA Auto Parts was there. [09:10].3]

Darryl: How did you know, financially, I guess, more than anything, because you had grown up frugal and you were really good at making sure that the money was there, but how did you [overcome the feeling of] “Okay, I feel good about financially transitioning and not working anymore”? I mean, how did you overcome that, that fear that could have existed?

Keith: I don’t guess I ever knew the number. In fact, if you remember back, that was our discussion.

Darryl: Yeah, yeah.

Keith: It was that I wanted that golden number, because I was told young, save and get $50,000, and when you get that, you arrive—50,000 doesn’t buy anything.

Darryl: No.

Keith: And so, then you set a new goal, “If I can get $100,000,” so I did that for a while, but probably I grew up in the Jimmy Carter era where I saw interest rates at 18%. [10:05].7]

Darryl: Inflation.

Keith: Oh, it was crazy, so I made a decision at an early age that I was going to stay real liquid and I kept my cash and didn’t invest it. A few times I did stocks and didn’t do very well on my own, and so I probably lost a lot of money not putting them in investments, but I knew at the end of the day, I got this much cash and it was drawing this much interest. But I was banking on it having value at my age 65 or whenever I decided to retire, and that didn’t happen.

Darryl: Isn’t that crazy? I mean, that inflation thing, I’ve always thought it’s kind of like a thief in the night. I mean, you just don’t know and then you wake up.

Keith: It’s a double whammy, no interest and inflation and the devaluing of the dollar. It makes me scared again. [11:04].5]

Darryl: Yeah. The good news is, at least, currently, despite everything going on, at least the value of the dollar staying up relative to other currencies.

Keith: Yeah.

Darryl: That’s good. But, right now, I know people listen to this in different times, but at the date of this publication, which is September 1, 2022, we’ve got an 8% inflation down a little bit from 9%, but bonds in our portfolios are getting 4–7%, and so you’re still losing money. I mean, even at 4–7%.

Keith: Right.

Darryl: But if you’re in a bank account earning 1%, I mean, that’s a huge cap to cover, so it’s hard to navigate an inflation environment.

Keith: And they raise the wages. Everybody fought for this raised minimum wage, and all that did was create more of an inflation problem because people had to charge more to pay more, and yet those employees didn’t get enough money to offset.

Darryl: You’ve got to do it again. [12:02].0]

Keith: It’d be better to make the $8 an hour and not have this inflation than the $10 or $12 an hour, or $15 an hour.

Darryl: And these are all things that were on top of your mind as you were managing NAPA.

Keith: Absolutely.

Darryl: I mean, this is everyday stuff for you.

Keith: It is. I grew up with people principles and I like to say my employees liked me and they worked hard for me, but I was very giving to the employees and I think that lesson made me successful.

Darryl: Yeah, you did have a lot of success. When you made the transition out since then, what have you been up to? I mean, cruises, Vegas, work, what does it look like now?

Keith: When I retired, that was a scary time for me, because 22 years I’d been getting up at six o’clock in the morning and getting home whenever, traveling four or five days, six days a week at times, living in an apartment in Mexico and having to go over there one week a month for a while. [13:12].2]

When I retired, I felt guilty. I went out. I’d make myself get up and I’d go out in the garage and I cleaned up the garage, and then cleaned the closets and cleaned whatever there was, worked on the yard. And when all that was done, I was bored stiff and I said, “What did I do?”

My wife is in real estate with Caldwell Banker and she’s been in it for about 15 years, and she had grown the business where she was so busy. I said, “That seems easy. That’d be fun just to drive around and sell houses,” and it wasn’t so easy. But I helped her out and started working with Caldwell Banker, handling, selling a few houses, but now I’m just doing investments. [14:06].0]

My daughter-in-law got her general contractor’s license and she’s doing a lot of construction, and I did remodels for houses and flips and that sort of stuff –

Darryl: Okay, I didn’t know that.

Keith: – until she built her crew up and now she doesn’t need me, so she’s doing just fine without me.

Darryl: Good for her.

Keith: Same thing I did for my son. He’s got a very successful business and he was trying to run it out of the house, and I was involved in his business and he’s doing great, so he doesn’t need me. I’m still involved in little investments and that’s it.

Darryl: What would you say to those people that are struggling with that guilt that you experienced and may still experience? Because your whole life, you’ve seen hard work and you’ve seen people who’ve struggled, and I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but for you to sit back and just not do anything, it’s obviously challenging for you because you’re a worker. [15:03].7]

Keith: I wasn’t raised that way. You have a work ethic, whether it’s at home or a job, or in your church or whatever you’re involved in, so that was very eye-opening. You look forward to the day of retirement, and then when you retire, you’ve still got taxes on your house to pay and you’ve still got all these expenses, and now inflation and all the other stuff, wondering, “Okay, should I go back to work or what should I do?” That’s kind of …

Darryl: What would you say to those people that have grown up with that hard work ethic and transitioning into retirement? What would you tell them? What should they do or what should they think about so they don’t have this feeling of guilt?

Keith: I can just tell you what I did. I went and got involved in things that I enjoyed doing, and if that meant work, that’s fine, but I wasn’t under that corporate structure. It really broke my body down physically, the stress and pressure for 22 years of the corporation. [16:11].5]

As good as Genuine Parts was good to me, it was very stressful, because in the corporate world, you live under the umbrella that this could be your last day. That was the constant threat. You don’t make your numbers and I was one of the fortunate people that I never missed my numbers, so I wouldn’t even tell you what it was like to not make your numbers., but it was stressful.

Darryl: That takes its toll. A couple more questions as we begin to tie a bow. It’s fascinating because we covered just some really interesting topics, one of which is growing up in a pastor family and then the frugality and the desire to make money, being the black sheep, and then the hard work and stress of your career, and then, of course, inflation kind of creeping its ugly head, so just some fascinating things that we really could tease out further. But I have to have two other questions as we tie a bow on this. First of all, are you still a Cowboys fan? [17:08].3]

Keith: I live for the Cowboys every week, good or bad, them and my Longhorns. I don’t care about watching any other game, but I don’t miss a Cowboy game and I don’t miss a Longhorn game. I miss my watching buddy.

Darryl: Yeah, Paul.

Keith: But, in fact, why I’m such a Cowboys fan, when I was young, one of those jobs was I worked for Chuck Haley when he was a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys.

Darryl: Oh, no kidding.

Keith: And he started a cleaning company, and so me and my little group of friends would go on Saturdays and pass out flyers for his games, and so I always got autographed pictures and tickets to the game on Sunday from Chuck Haley. That was something that really turned me on, and then Tom Landry was in my huddle in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. [18:04].8]

Darryl: He was very involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Keith: Yep, and so I’ve just been a diehard Cowboy fan.

Darryl: They’re good people and I hope they have a good year.

Keith: I do, too. That’s my hope every year, yeah.

Darryl: Yeah. But the final and most important question that we have. First of all, it’s been a pleasure, but what’s your favorite salsa?

Keith: My favorite food is Mexican food, so I judge a restaurant by their salsa. I like pico type salsa.

Darryl: The chunks in it, yeah.

Keith: And then I like just regular hot sauce, as long as it’s not barbecuey-tasting.

Darryl: Understood, yeah.

Keith: Charcoaley-tasting. That’s the kind that I won’t go back to the restaurant if it’s that way. But my favorite hot sauce is from Bee’s, which Paul got me hooked on that, and Justin and his family, so we’d go there every Saturday. That was kind of–

Darryl: Bee’s?

Keith: Bee’s Mexican restaurant.

Darryl: Okay, I don’t know Bee’s. [19:02].4]

Keith: I can’t believe you.

Darryl: I know.

Keith: You haven’t been taken to Bee’s.

Darryl: Okay, yeah.

Keith: And, of course, Bee died last year and it’s not the same restaurant as it was, but for many years, I mean, our family knew all the waitresses. Even my daughter, when she moved to Tulsa, she asked how Mary was doing, and so it was a family tradition Saturday morning to go to Bee’s.

Darryl: That’s wonderful.

Keith: And Paul started it and we kind of joined in, and it became our family. Their hot sauce is a little spicy, but I love it.

Darryl: Good stuff. Thank you again, Keith, for being here. This was learning about you, really just some good lessons, life lessons that you shared with us, so thank you so much. This has been good.

Keith: I appreciate you and in the life you lead, and I’ve enjoyed and respected you through the years.

Darryl: That means a lot. Thank you.

Keith: All right.

Darryl: For those that made it to the end of the show, I really appreciate you hanging with us and enjoying this conversation. I want to encourage you to text “Texas” to the number 74868. You can speak to a financial advisor for 15 minutes, it won’t cost you anything. [20:12].5]

Then I always want to remind you that you think different when you think long term. Have a great day.

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