“My daughter said, ‘Why didn’t we move sooner?’ ”
Chris Scheve heard the tone in people’s voices when he told them he was moving from his native Houston, Texas to Pittsburgh. The verdict, now that the move is complete? The skeptics were dead wrong.
“The big story to me about Pittsburgh is the misunderstanding folks around the country have about it,” says Chris, an energy executive who moved with wife, Dawn, and their children, Katie and Christopher, in 2012. “They have in their minds the old version of what Pittsburgh was in the 70s and 80s, the image of a smoky Northeastern city.
“The huge surprise has been what a great place it is to raise children,” he adds. “In Pittsburgh, my kids play outside a lot more than they did in Houston. They have a childhood now like I had.”
Chris works as northeast business unit manager in the Wexford office of Exterran, a global natural gas compression service company with offices. He was sensitive to how his family would take to relocation.He gave his daughter a year to adjust to the idea of moving. In the meantime, he commuted by plane, week in and week out, between Houston and Pittsburgh.
“Two weeks after moving here, you know what my daughter said to me? ‘Why didn’t we move sooner?’” he laughs. “She topped it off by saying she would never move back to Texas.”
The Pittsburgh region – and, in a larger sense, Pennsylvania– is more than just a great place for Chris and his family. What lies beneath it is his livelihood: the Marcellus Shale, the second-largest underground gas field in the world.
Chris is passionate about Marcellus Shale. “It’s as significant as the steel industry was, if not more,if we do it right,” he says. “The largest gas field in the country? The second largest in the world? It’s unbelievable. It’s going to bring back jobs and is resulting in a huge amount of investment in the region. This will continue for decades, to get us off oil from countries that don’t have our interests at heart. We’ll be energy independent and that’s world-changing.”
But there’s more to champion than the region’s potential as an energy producer. Chris grew up on Texas sports and admits he’s cheering for some of Pittsburgh’s teams now. “The three stadiums you have here are incredible. PNC Park is, frankly, the best seat in baseball. Looking out over the rivers,the city – it’s gorgeous. My kids love that stadium!”
But don’t rush to mess with Texas, alright? “Whenever I return to Texas, I eat 1) Mexican, 2) Cajun and 3) barbecue – those are the three things I miss. But the Italian food here makes up for it all,” he says. “The other thing that is amazing to me is that I eat more homegrown food here – vegetables, meat off the farm – in this ‘Northeastern manufacturing industrial city’ than I ever did in Texas.”
Chris estimates he and his wife, a Washington County girl he met on a blind date in Houston, take the kids into the city of Pittsburgh proper at least once a week, to catch a CLO show or grab some fresh fish at the Strip District. Rather than minding the commute, for Chris it’s part of the appeal. “Driving through that Fort Pitt Tunnel, coming into the city at night – I can’t think of a city that has a better entrance,” he said, sounding quite proud of his adopted hometown. “I guess you could say I’ve become a huge Pittsburgh fan.”