Like many people, apparently, I was happy to see 2008 go. The economy was terrible -- especially in Michigan, but it's been bad here so long I'm starting to get used to it. Meanwhile, unemployment rates nationwide kept rising; several friends and relatives have been laid off; credit markets froze; housing values continued to drop, and one of my parents passed away in November. 

Whether you agreed with the feelings of change and hope that President-elect Barack Obama used throughout his successful campaign, it's hard not to want to believe that this year will be better, eventually.

We'll be monitoring the situation as best we can in Snips and on this Web site. I talk frequently to contractors and manufacturers in the industry, and it's no exaggeration to say many are struggling right now.

How are things where you are? Our online December poll showed many contractors are feeling squeezed by the credit markets.

Here's hoping for better times ahead.