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BLAZING THEIR OWN PATH Small manufacturers create their niche with new technology, diversification and staying true to their mission

Marking its 70th year in business, S&W Metal Products in Colebrookdale Township, Berks County, has had to continuously diversify its products and services to survive and thrive./ CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Small businesses are formed out of an entrepreneur’s desire to create a product or service that people need and want.

Small businesses are formed out of an entrepreneur’s desire to create a product or service that people need and want.

That includes those who start or lead small manufacturing companies, with the added responsibility of making the products on their own.

With their experimental derring-do and innovative strategies, small manufacturers are noteworthy for the creativity and commitment they show to their businesses.

But nothing is created in a vacuum. For small manufacturers to compete regionally and globally and gain market share, they must establish their niche and identify where their company fits in a crowded marketplace.

With limited advertising budgets, a leaner staff and locations that often are land-locked, small manufacturers face considerable obstacles to survive, let alone thrive. But by sticking true to their mission of producing distinctive products, diversifying, taking on new technologies and understanding where they fit in the marketplace, small manufacturers have an edge that bigger ones sometimes lack.

In addition, outside factors also help small manufacturers, including growing consumer interest in buying online and in buying locally and sustainably produced products.

“Small manufacturers are the backbone of the American economy,” said Darlene Robbins, president of the Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers & Employers Association in Pottsville.

While all manufacturers are addressing the skills gap and fighting for common sense regulatory reform and stronger trade opportunities, those same issues have been identified as important for small manufacturers, she said.

“They need the opportunity to enter markets in a fair way,” Robbins said. “To be successful, most every business needs to compete in a global economy.”

Small but fast-growing Radius, a designer and manufacturer of toothbrushes and other dental products in Kutztown, formed in 1982. Since then, it has seen strong growth thanks to the popularity of ordering goods on the internet and buying them at natural food products stores such as Whole Foods.

Brian Pedersen
Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108.

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