SHINER, Texas — The most sought-after metals on earth are sitting in a secret underground vault east of San Antonio. KENS 5 got rare access inside the storage facility where up to $5 billion worth of gold, palladium, and other valuables can be held.
A short drive east of San Antonio will land you in a place that’s known for its beer. The Spoetzl Brewery is owned by the Gambrinus Company and distributes Shiner Bock nationwide. But in the small community of Shiner, a secret operation is hidden underground.
Texas Precious Metals and its depository are subsidiaries of Kaspar Companies in Shiner. Kaspar Companies was founded in 1898 and is the largest employer in Lavaca County.
Texas Precious Metals and its depository operate hand-in-hand to sell, buy and store precious metals. Jason Kaspar, the CEO and fifth-generation of Kaspars, leads the business. KENS 5 spoke with the president and co-founder of the business, Tarek Saab, who gave us exclusive access inside their facility.
“These days, we have clients that range anywhere between $50 worth of metal in the depository to in some cases, $15 million,” said Saab. “We have clients from all over the world that have opened accounts inside the depository.”
Due to security concerns, a camera was not allowed inside the underground facility. But KENS 5 was able to take a private tour. The storage is concrete entombed, with three layers of concentric protection, and has the world’s most secure vaults inside. It also has bulletproof doors, man traps, truck traps, biometric scanners, metal detectors, and armed security. The entire area is monitored 24/7 and connected to alarms that can alert law enforcement officers who are located within 1 mile of the facility.
“You can’t entirely eliminate risk. In any industry or in any vault around the world. But you can work extremely hard to mitigate that risk and that’s what we have done,” said Saab.
Texas Depository launched in 2018 but since the coronavirus pandemic started, Saab says business has increased threefold. The storage holds gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. The precious metals are 100% insured by Lloyd's of London.
“I have often joked that we’re like the toilet paper in the financial industry. You don’t realize how badly you need it until it’s not available,” explained Saab. “There was a huge run on precious metals in the market during COVID. We were extremely busy trying to keep up with the overall demand, as people were pulling from equities, pulling from their bank accounts to try to build in a little bit of protection.”
Saab further explains why the asset remains highly attractive.
“It has a 5000-year track record as being money. Gold is money par excellence. It is the reason why central banks have gold on their balance sheet,” said Saab. “Gold is always going to have a role in the financial system.”
Saab said the volatility of the stock market, which includes the activity related to the GameStop short sellers has largely affected his business.
“On the heels of the GameStop squeeze, the next asset that was targeted was silver. The first weekend of February, there was a massive run on silver. We sold about three months' worth of silver in a span of 48 hours,” he said.
KENS 5 spoke to one man who stored his valuables at the depository. He wished to remain anonymous for the story. He said the dot-com crash of 2000 and the financial crisis of 2008, drove him to invest in precious metals as a hedge against crises. The client shared that civil unrest over the summer pushed him to store his wealth.
“I just got worried that maybe someone would find out I had it or someone broke in and might cause harm. You know, harm my family or myself. I just didn’t want that present,” he said.
Saab shared stories of ranchers who stored metal on their property and became targeted by their own employees. In some cases, he said people have been held at gunpoint and had their valuables stolen.
“With geopolitical uncertainty and volatility in the markets, people tend to flock to metal. This trajectory that we’ve been on in the last couple of years is accelerating,” said Saab.