State Spotlight - Big Business in Texas

While Texas may not have had the highest rate of promo sales growth in the South region last year (that would belong to Florida at 5.6%), it did grow 4.7% to a total of $2.8 billion – a massive figure that highlights the state’s substantial economic influence.

Despite the petroleum industry losing momentum in the past two years, low oil prices have been a boon for the diverse spectrum of industry residing in Texas, which in turn benefits promo distributors. “So many companies that use petroleum products have more money in their pockets right now,” says Tommy Lewis, Dallas-based vice president of enterprise and program sales for Halo Branded Solutions (asi/356000). “If a company has a large fleet, it’s paying a lot less for fuel. If a company is fabricating things, it’s paying less for plastic. And we see that their program budgets are getting bigger.”

The state has moved away from its energy reliance through relocation incentives its local governments offer to companies around the country. With those tax breaks come stipulations that the relocating firm must spend a certain percentage of its annual budget with local companies. “Toyota is moving its North American headquarters to Plano this year, and that’s just one of dozens of companies coming from other states,” Lewis says. He cites a large coffee company from California, a weapons manufacturer from Colorado, and MoneyGram from Minneapolis that have just relocated to the Dallas area. Each of these firms is a multiplier of opportunity for distributors, because new corporate tenants need a local presence of suppliers and other supporting companies. “Every new office that opens must brand its facility and its people, do community outreach, create recruiting, onboarding, recognition and retention initiatives,” Lewis notes.

Dallas, Austin and San Antonio are seeing big growth opportunities, and several other smaller cities are among the fastest growing in the U.S. The state’s population grew by 1.5% in 2016, and yet that is not nearly enough to fill all the jobs available across Texas. Lewis notes the abundance of restaurant franchises and hotel headquarters around Dallas; IT jobs and home construction “would be even more robust if there were enough people to do that work,” he says. “Retention programs are increasingly important to most companies here.” Military contractors could be ready to spend more. “Dallas and Houston have several major suppliers of aviation and big equipment,” says Lewis, “and they appear primed to get a lot of new money because that spending was cut so much over the previous eight years.”

Another segment that’s teeming with events: the Texas association market. It comprises nearly 1,900 organizations (30% of which have budgets exceeding $1 million) and about 19 million members in total. A good economy always boosts association membership and event attendance, too.