The other day, the fellow who delivers bottled water rattled his cartful of plastic jugs down the hall.  The specially made metal cart had a removable, blue-plastic base into which the bottles of water fit snugly.


This got us thinking: We hear a lot about the struggles of America's manufacturing sector -- automobiles, appliances, textiles, electronics. 


What we don't hear much about are the LITTLE businesses that build those water bottles and water-jug carts and blue-plastic inserts.


Last year, the Midwest state of Wisconsin led the nation in creating new manufacturing jobs -- not in heavy industry, mostly, or even in its famous cheese industry -- but in an endless assortment of products made in little factories you see tucked among Wisconsin's green, manicured farms.  Riding past, you maybe catch the name on a sign, but have no clue what they make.


Well, Curt Manufacturing in Eau Claire makes metal ball hitches for trailers.  Great White Dental Lab in Lodi fashions enamel teeth called "crowns."  Universal Die & Stampings in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, makes battery caps and other things.  And K & B Innovations in Oconomowac creates "Shrinky Dinks," which are little plastic thingys that kids can color and then shrink in the oven.


And somebody, somewhere builds the vats and forms, big stirring paddles and conveyor belts without which there'd be no Wisconsin cheese.  We don't pay much attention when one of these companies wins an award, or loses a contract and closes, or relocates to Thailand -- unless it's the little plant that's the economic engine of our town!