Late in June, my family's six-month journey to relocate from Colorado to Texas ended successfully in New Braunfels, Texas -- the new headquarters for CompanyWeek.
In the end we'd hoped a move like this was easy, or normal, as if picking up and moving for no reason, other than we wanted to, was seen as normal. It wasn't; folks were surprised we'd leave Colorado. For us, adventure seemed a good idea after finally planting our youngest on a college campus in January.
But it turned out that explaining the inexplicable was easy compared to the move, a move that for me became a metaphor for the supply-chain woes we write about every week.
Americans are on the move. In the West, a migration of humanity is underway, to and from California, Arizona, Texas, and Colorado. The influx of people into Austin, our destination when we began, is staggering. You've no doubt read about the Austin housing market. In early February, we hadn't. The short story is that selling a house in Colorado is easy. Finding a house in Austin, not so much.
But the supply-and-demand narrative involving housing has nothing on the logistical challenge of moving in the midst of a labor shortage. Our moving company struggled to find and schedule employees to move our load out, to transit, and unload. A single, resilient Russian immigrant from Brooklyn, who spoke very little English, was left to unload our 3,000 cubic feet of goods on his own in Texas. Three, then four, then five employees were scheduled to arrive to help. They never showed up. His accomplishment was epic, one for the ages. It was a nightmare for us.
The irony is that in Texas, factions are working to diminish prospects for immigration reform that would ease the burden on employers. The efforts of a Texas governor, George W. Bush, who appeared motivated to solve the immigration conundrum before 9/11, look otherworldly, today. Texas is a logical place for historic immigration compromise. Yet this state with so much workforce promise is bitterly divided.
You can buy a handgun and holster in Texas, and wear it proudly, and if you're so inclined, move your manufacturing company here, as hundreds of business owners are doing. And for me, the chance to chronicle manufacturing's Wild West is too good to pass up. The business press is choked full of news of relocations, expansions, and launches. Much like Colorado's Front Range, South Texas, our new home, is on fire. Like everywhere, workers are hard to find. Builders are backed up; service and retail companies are undermanned -- there's a line for everything; and manufacturers are desperate for employees.
My experience is that Texans are more independent than ideological. For a state blessed with home-grown, diverse talent, it's hard to believe its leaders will fumble away an economic opportunity to instead worship at a fleeting political altar. There's too much at stake.
As a new resident, I'm rooting for the inclusive version of Texas, tuned for business. We'll report on the manufacturing economy here, regardless. As I watch Blue Origin touch down in Texas after an historic mission, the possibilities seem limitless.
America's space race is at home in Texas. As of today, so are we.
Bart Taylor is publisher of CompanyWeek. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.