There have been fewer bankruptcies than we expected at the beginning of the year. And as a firm with a history of being bullish about this industry and its future, we still feel we have turned the corner and the industry is stabilizing.

But we still have a way to go, and our view isn't very different than those of the economists and analysts. Next year will mark the slow turn toward a gradual recovery. But it will take years to recover to even the 400-million-yard mark, in part because of materials supply and equipment constraints that will throttle back growth until capacity can meet the inevitable demand of a recovering economy.

In the meantime, we tip our hats to the TCP 100. Their accomplishments show a producer's incredible tenacity in surviving these challenging times. They have demonstrated their firm grasp of the first rule of this business: In good times, you have to lead and prosper. In difficult times, you must survive.

Pierre Villere is president and managing partner of Allen-Villere Partners. Contact him,or telephone 985-727-4310.