While it’s true that U.S. manufacturing is not what it once was, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
The truth of the matter is the manufacturing landscape has been altered in profound ways over the years. To be sure, there is little comparison between yesterday’s dismal production lines and the brightly lit specialized factories of today.
Despite antiquated industry perceptions, manufacturing output has grown steadily over the last three decades – even as payrolls have shrunk, according to a July 2017 article by the Pew Research Center.
Put another way, the world of manufacturing is producing more … with less people.
That said, the manufacturing industry is also navigating uncharted waters punctuated by extraordinary advancements.
The current manufacturing workplace is defined by fluid boundaries of software automation, robotics, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud platforms, blockchain, the gig economy, omnichains, predictive analytics, and above all, constant waves of change.
Companies that excel in the wild currents of modern manufacturing will be innovative, intelligent, and will possess the ability to quickly and strategically adapt to dynamic conditions.
Lone Star production progress
Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data illustrates that Texas’ manufacturing industry is one of the most robust in the nation.
In fact, BLS Data released in February 2018 revealed that of the 15 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the country, North Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth) and Houston tied for the most manufacturing jobs added in 2017.
Both North Texas and Houston added 8,800 manufacturing jobs – a 3.3 percent and 4 percent change, respectively – in 2017, according to BLS data.
A sampling of advanced tech and manufacturing industries across the state includes motor vehicle, motor vehicle parts, communications equipment, semiconductor and electronic components, aerospace and defense, petroleum refining and chemical products, and food processing, among others.
Texas manufacturing currently employs roughly 874,450 people at an average annual salary of $71,500, according to the Texas Office of the Governor. General Motors and Toyota are the largest automotive manufacturing employers in the state.
In North Texas, a vibrant manufacturing scene has been shaped by such corporate notables as Lockheed Martin, General Motors, L3 Technologies, Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., Alcon Laboratories, Peterbilt Motors Co., Safran USA Inc., Raytheon Co., Caterpillar Inc., and many more.
The region’s business-friendly environment, central location, and state-of-the-art transportation network make production operations and market access efficient, affordable, and accessible. It’s no surprise that additional companies are discovering the merits of doing business in Texas, as Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Austin have led the country in job growth.
Additionally, Texas’ ever-growing number of residents ensures a potent pipeline of talent for current and future workforce needs.
Consider the fact that the Texas population gained nearly 400,000 new residents from July 2016 to July 2017, representing the largest population gain among the states, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ February 2018 Texas Economic Update – and North Texas welcomed many of those new residents.
The Lone Star labor pool is deep, indeed – a tremendous resource to manufacturing companies seeking qualified employees.
Midlothian’s promising potential
Few possess such comprehensive understanding of the industrial market in North Texas as Dallas-based Colliers International brokers Tom Pearson, SIOR, and Chris Teesdale, SIOR.
Pearson, an executive vice president in Colliers’ industrial division, and Teesdale, an executive vice president and member of the steering committee for Colliers Logistics and Transportation, make up the Supply Chain Real Estate Advisors Team.
The pair’s combined years in industrial real estate translates into extensive experience in land and building sales, leasing and investment sales, regional industry trends, and more. Additionally, the award-winning team has gleaned valuable insights regarding the positives, negatives, and the future of DFW’s industrial landscape.
According to Pearson, when it comes to North Texas, companies planning an industrial plant expansion or relocation typically set their sights on a handful of areas in the region.
“They will likely look at three places: Alliance in North Fort Worth, South Fort Worth, and South Dallas,” said Pearson. “Of those three, the South Dallas region offers an abundance of industrial land – both developed and undeveloped.”
Just 30 minutes south of Dallas, the rapidly growing community of Midlothian is an emerging player in the southern DFW industrial market.
With available land, abundant water resources, two business parks, efficient highway access and a booming population, Midlothian is catching the attention of developers, brokers and site consultants.
A top-notch school district, affordable housing, affluent quality of life, and a strategic location are drawing not only new residents, but savvy businesses as well.
Furthermore, Midlothian boasts a solid track record of success when it comes to supporting manufacturing and industrial operations.
The community’s long industrial history is anchored by three cement plants, a steel plant, and a variety of newer industries that include distribution and warehouse operations, chemical production, liquefied natural gas production, and more.
“Midlothian is right at the crossroads of U.S. Highways 67 and 287, so if you’re coming from Dallas or Fort Worth, Midlothian is right in the middle,” said Teesdale. “It’s definitely in a growth area.”
Can-do culture generates tangible benefits
Both Pearson and Teesdale agree that as Midlothian continues to evolve, the community’s culture is a tremendous draw for industrial firms and is helping position the city for future success.
“The thing that first struck me about Midlothian was the demographic makeup of the community – the average income, the education level of citizens,” said Pearson. “Also, the spirit of the community, the team effort that they put behind a project, the passion the city leaders have for their community – all those things. They care about the roots of their community.”
The city’s progressive spirit can be found not only in its inclusive culture, but also in the way it supports new and existing businesses.
“One of the things that you see when you drive through the residential community is that people have pride in their homes,” said Teesdale. “That pride is one of the things that kind of goes along with the culture.
“The city and community can offer any kind of infrastructure for industrial users – whether it’s manufacturing or distribution. They’ve got the resources to do that. And it’s so valuable when you can match up a community with a company’s culture.”
Midlothian’s appeal is further complemented by its proximity to a population of roughly 1.3 million people within a 30-minute drive. This translates into an important asset for businesses searching for top workforce talent.
Additionally, an uncongested network of roadways that includes not only Highways 67 and 287, but also four interstate highways, I-20, I-35E, I-35W and I-45 – which are less than 30 minutes away – offers companies a competitive edge when it comes to transportation and logistics.
The toll lane expansion project currently underway on State Highway 360, just 10 minutes northwest of Midlothian, ensures an even faster route to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport will soon be available – another plus for companies needing to fly in colleagues for site visits, meetings, or training sessions.
A good balance
Teesdale said for industrial companies considering sites in the South Dallas market, critical questions drive decision-making.
“They are asking, ‘How quickly can I get product in and out of this facility; in for processing, or in for redistribution or distribution out to the end-user customer?’” said Teesdale. “’And how smooth is that process? How efficient is that process?’ That’s what they’re really evaluating, and that really puts Midlothian at a fair advantage.”
The bottom line is, for companies seeking the most optimal North Texas address for new manufacturing operations, Midlothian is a strong site contender on a variety of levels.
The suburban gem delivers a site solution that effortlessly connects upscale family living and country serenity with an international business community and nearby cosmopolitan amenities. It’s a rare blend of all worlds.“Midlothian offers a good balance,” said Teesdale. “The city is really on the cusp of coming into its own.”