State of Business: Trouble in Lilliput

While big business surges to new profit records, the nation's 300,000 small manufacturers complain that the boom is passing them by. Most share the lament of Chairman Glenn H. Friedt Jr. of Detroit's United Platers, Inc., which handles chrome plating for the fast-moving automakers: "I find it embarrassing to admit that this year is no better than last year." Worse yet, Dun & Bradstreet reports that 87% of the nation's 15,800 bankruptcies last year were small businesses, i.e., those with liabilities of less than $100,000.

What is wrong? Most frequent cause of trouble is the inability of management to keep...

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