(a career-changing turkey encounter)
On June 21, 2009 Roane Madison Lacy of Waco passed away at the age of 92. He was a fourth generation Texan. He is someone you have no reason to know, but he has affected your life by not being part of it. You see—Roane was true Waco aristocracy a son of one of Waco’s founding families. The Lacy family started and owned the Citizens National Bank of Waco from its inception in the 1800’s until the 1980’s.
The Lacy family either controlled or was greatly influential in the growth of Waco over all those years. As an example, the Santa Fe Railroad runs through McGregor rather than Waco on its route from South Texas to Chicago. The story is that the Lacy family didn’t want a train messing up “their” city with noise, smoke, etc.
Anyway, in 1955 Roane took over the W D Lacy Coal Company, formed in 1882 and turned it into Lacy Feed. Lacy Feed mixed all kinds of feed for farm animals and delivered all over Central Texas. In connection with the feed operation, the Lacy family owned and operated Plantation Foods, a major turkey grower and supplier of turkey products.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
One year I was assigned to observe the taking of the feed store inventory. Part of the task involved riding a one man platform up about 100 feet and walking a 30 foot catwalk to check the volume of grain in the bins. My effort began with a mishap when I failed to stop the elevator until I had gone past the “git-off” place and almost bashed my head on the ceiling. It took me only a second to decide that whatever volume of grain was shown in the bins looked about right to me. There was never any mention of my casual observation later so I guess my estimate passed muster. I resolved that the next year I would be a senior accountant and would send a rookie up!
Another time Roane took me in his big Cadillac to see their turkey growing operation which was right at the end of an air force runway. Jet pilots shot takeoffs and landing there. The noise from a jet fighter overhead at about 50 feet is thunderous, but the turkeys simply got up to the trough and ate some more—no fear at all. But when we closed the doors to the car from about 30 yards away, the turkeys went nuts-flying against the tops and all sides of the coops, landing on each other and pecking away.
Here is the life-changing part. Roane offered me a job making about $14,000 annually and I was making about $6,000 annually at that time.
I talked to Jim Hendrix about the offer and he recommended that I get more public accounting experience before I took a job in private industry. I took his advice and within a few years I became a partner in Upleger and company.
The lessons I learned from all this were not to sell out for monetary gain and to try to stay out of turkey coops or be up to your behind in turkeys and droppings.