In a downsized auto industry, many auto suppliers are finding that they must diversify themselves in order to stay afloat and potentially make a profit.

In a Kalamazoo Gazette story this week, John Patten, chair of the Manufacturing Engineering Department at Western Michigan University states, “in order to move ahead, some suppliers are moving away from the auto industry or focusing on alternative-energy, health and medical products.”

In a CNN Money story earlier this year, reporter Sheena Harrison confirmed, “Michigan has little choice but to embrace diversification. State officials estimate that every automotive job creates five additional jobs in the local economy. As the domestic auto industry contracts, finding new fields for those manufacturers to target is vital to Michigan’s economic recovery.”

The state of the automotive supplier market is uncertain, and according to the March 2009 OESA Automotive Supplier Barometer, thirty-three percent of automotive suppliers operating in the U.S. are significantly more pessimistic about the general outlook of their businesses over the next 12 months than they were at the beginning of the year.

Whether it’s surviving by diversifying their business or some other method, auto suppliers need to do anything they can to get through the next year when things turn around for the entire automotive industry.