The health of Wisconsin's small manufacturers is a mixed diagnosis.

The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership took the temperature of 173 small companies in the state. A little more than third reported growing sales or profitable growth. But the Partnership's Mike Klonsinski says 14% say they are in survival mode. Another 10% report declining sales.

Klonsinski says companies are getting squeezed by prices. The costs of raw materials are going up and the prices they get for their products are going down. In order to survive, Klonsinski says business owners can't sit still. If they don't have a plan of continuous improvement and stick to it, they will go out of business

These are companies with 20- to 500 employees. The suppliers. The businesses that work in plastics or electronics and supply parts and materials to places like Kohler or Harley Davidson.

Klonsinski says they are the wealth that drives the state's economy and often the lifeblood of many small communities in the state.


AUDIO: Jim Dick reports ( 1:06 MP3 )

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