3 Facts that Show the Power of Small in Kansas

By Mark Chalfant on April 28, 2016

Maybe it's the engineer geek in me coming out, but I like data.  I realize that sometimes data is boring, and can be used incorrectly, but most of time it can be used to make intellegent decisions...intellegent decisions about your business, your competitors, trends, etc.

When I came across this piece from the National Association of Manufacturers' (NAM) and the "Power of Small", the data provided on a national perspective made me stop and think.  As the author, Drew Greenblatt, stated, "When policymakers and the public think of manufacturing, most imagine sprawling production facilities. Although there are certainly big players in the sector, research shows that small and medium-sized businesses are the heart of the industry--just like they are the foundation of the American Dream."

NAM has compiled some interesting facts that clearly demonstrate that large impact often comes in small packages. I will add to Drew's data by presenting similar data for the state of Kansas' manufacturing sector where possible.

1. Small and medium-sized businesses comprise the preponderance of the manufacturing sector.


Of the 256,363 firms identified in the most recent data, only 3,626 were large companies. The remaining 98.5%--a total of 252,737 companies--were businesses employing fewer than 500 people. 


Of the roughly 3,100 manufacturers identified by the Kansas Department of Labor, only 41 of them had more than 500 employees.  This makes 98.7% of them identified as small or mid-sized manufacturers.

2. The very small make up the largest proportion of manufacturing.
If hundreds of employees still sounds big, know that most manufacturers fall far short of that mark. In fact, three-quarters of manufacturing companies have fewer than 20 employees. These entrepreneurial ventures help turbo-charge the economy and strengthen local communities.
The number for Kansas is slightly lower from the national level in this regard.  According to the data, 66.9% of our manufacturing community has fewer than 20 people.  Almost 90% of the manufacturers in the state are under 100 employees.
3. Smaller manufacturers employ almost as many people as their larger counterparts.
Small and medium-sized manufacturers are responsible for 5 million American jobs, with firms of less than 20 employees supporting 1 million of them. Large manufacturers, by comparison, have about 6 million workers.
Small and medium-sized manufacturers are responsible for just over 101,500 Kansas jobs, with firms of less than 20 employees supporting more than 12,000 of them.  Those 41 large manufacturers in Kansas, with greater than 500 employees, employee 59,574.
As Drew concludes in his column, the data shows that small manufacturers are lifting above their weight in our economy and our communities, even while battling significant head winds. Imagine what would be possible if we unleash the full Power of Small.