The long, sticky summer tug-of-war between General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers is a brutal reminder to plastics processors who depend too much on a single customer or market for their livelihood.
Diversity, when it comes to your customer base, truly can be a virtue.
Processors have much to lose from this strike. Lost work and profit can cripple a small business.
Lenders and suppliers may face the same problems, which may be magnified if they, too, put too much emphasis on GM-related business.
Some processors believe they have something to gain in this battle. If GM is successful, the company can move toward additional outsourcing, a strategy that GM's more profitable competitors already have enjoyed.
But it's hard to see how any good can result from this confrontation.
Regardless of the outcome, the union is emboldened by its ability to shut down the major automaker with a targeted, well-organized strike.
Think of the strike as the equivalent of a union-controlled nuclear bomb. Unfortunately, the UAW is likely to keep using it, regardless of how seriously it hurts GM.
GM, meanwhile, wants to make Wall Street happy, and Wall Street has urged a tough line on cutting costs.
Every few years, it seems, an event like this comes along to remind processors that they should not become overly dependent on automakers.
When it happens, it reverberates throughout the plastics industry, as Tier 2 suppliers try their hand at a variety of other end-markets.