In Russell Luckock's words Birmingham manufacturer AE Harris is the original widget maker, banging out components for everything from tractors to artificial limbs.
It is still in business - making it one of the lucky ones - but like many in the industry, Mr Luckock (right), its chairman and managing director, fears for the future.
The 50-year veteran of manufacturing worries that however the Chancellor's visit to China goes, and whether MG Rover does or does not sign a partnership agreement, the region's small manufacturers are in a lose-lose situation.
"If Rover goes in with the Chinese it will be another tranche of business lost," he says - expressing concerns that cheaper Chinese manufacturers will step into the supply chain to the detriment of Midland industry.
"How can that be a success, if all the components are made in China and Longbridge becomes an assembly shop?"
Yet he believes if MG Rover fails to secure the China linkup, and goes out of business, Midland suppliers will lose a huge amount of business.
"I've been slogging my heart out here for 50 years, but you can't compete with people on 40p per hour," he complained.
Mr Luckock, who gathers information on Midland liquidations and writes an annual state-ofthe-industry roundup for The Birmingham Post, counted 115 component manufacturers that went out of business last year.
"So far this year the total is 16," he said. "And nobody is taking their place."
Mr Luckock believes this is because of the fearsomely competitive environment from Europe and the Far East, coupled with unduly strict regulations.
"The rules and regulations are so stringent," he said. "If you transgress it's a criminal offence. It's grim."
Mr Luckock said the only reason his business is still surviving is because it is among the fittest.
"We are very good at what we do, but our margins are very slim. We are now only seeing the survival of the very fittest and most prudent companies. We've been going since 1880 and haven't had an overdraft in at least 50 years."
As grim as his prognosis is, with the benefit of more experience than most to draw upon, Mr Luckock does see a future for British manufacturing for those who succeed in surviving these tough times.
"Those that do survive will have a good future," he predicted. "I saw all this in the 1950s with the rise of Japanese industry. These things are cyclical, but when things do bounce back, only the fittest will still be there."
In the meantime Mr Luckock would desperately like to see more Government support for manufacturers.
"It needs a sea-change in thinking. It really does. The Government has got to do what most other countries do and protect manufacturing."