It wasn’t something Roger Grout had been thinking about, and it wasn’t something that he struggled with either. Instead his decision to retire after 50 years with the McDonald’s Corporation was more of a feeling that came over him one day, and he said he just knew it was time.
“A feeling just came to me and said you’re good, you’ve done this. I just knew it was time. I didn’t talk first to my CPA, not my girlfriend, nobody, I just knew, it was just a moment and I knew,” said Grout.
Grout has made his mark with McDonald’s in Saratoga County, including the Ballston Spa location. Originally from Glens Falls, he first started his lifelong career with the company working at age 15. He said he had no idea that would lead him to owning five restaurants, including two in Halfmoon, one in Mechanicville, Halfmoon, and Ballston Spa. Grout worked in the business for many years learning the ins and out of the business before taking a leap and becoming an owner.
“It wasn’t until I hit my 40’s that I said to myself I want to do this as an owner,” said Grout.
Grout said looking back his weekends and summers at McDonald’s in Lake George taught him many life lessons, including the payoff that comes with building a strong work ethic. This work ethic lead him to completing graduate work at Georgetown University in Washing on D.C., where he worked as full time with the McOpCo in the DC Region. He was eventually promoted to Regional Training Consultant for the Baltimore-Washington Region after proving that he not only was willing to work hard for the corporation, but also that he cared about what it stood for.
“ I liked the idea that the business was about community, building it up and giving back,” said Grout.
Roger did return to the area and purchased the Waterford restaurant in 1994. It was at this time that Grout began to make his mark as someone who didn’t just own a place that served food, but as someone who wanted to make deep connections with the communities where his restaurants were. He brought in school nights, which are still a tradition found at many area McDonald’s. He said it has always been important to him to do things like give ice cream to little league teams, install flags in a downtown, or to plant flowers in places like Ballston Spa.
Grout said after the infamous tornadoes tore through the village of Mechanicville, he made sure McDonald’s did all they could to aid those who were affected. As a result of his efforts he was named Mechanicville person of the year.
“We are here to try to keep communities in a good place,” said Grout.
Throughout his 50 years Grout has been held roles such as VP, Secretary, and Chief Communications Officer, but the title he is especially proud of is Ronald McDonald Liaison.
Grout as volunteered since 1994 helping to support grants and fundraising campaigns that have brought in close to $2 million dollars.
As for retirement, Grout said you will not find him on the couch watching TV. He plans to have a retirement that is a balance of finding his next chapter in life and enjoying time with family. Grout’s official retirement date fell on March 15th, although he said he will be involved with the transition, including tying up loose ends until the end of April. One of his first orders of business will be to spend time with his children and grandchildren.
Grout said he knows that leaving the only job he has ever known will probably feel a little shocking at first. He said it was always with him, even on vacations, where he would often find himself thinking about the business.
“I know there will be a little bit of sadness and withdrawal, but I have been blessed. I’m ready” said Grout.