A trend we've been following is small manufacturing firms competing successfully through strategies built around niche markets, customization, automation, flexible systems, design services, and delivery speed.
The New Yorks Times article In New York, No Crisis for Niche Manufacturers provides several examples of this trend. It also talks about the growth of niche manufacturing companies in Brooklyn. Key quote:
"In Brooklyn, the number of jobs for niche manufacturers, which are not only small but also tend to have local clients, rose by 17 percent between 2001 and 2007, said James Parrott, the chief economist of the Fiscal Policy Institute. In the same period, the number for manufacturers making products for mass markets declined by 48 percent.