The state of the economy was foremost on the minds of dealers and vendors from Alabama, Florida, and Georgia who gathered for the first-ever winter education conference held jointly by the Construction Suppliers Association (CSA), the Florida Building Material Association (FBMA), and the Structural Building Components Association.

"Welcome to the recession of 2008," said Roger Tutterow, an economics professor at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., noting that there might be several more quarters to go in the economic downturn. While Tutterow suggested the housing market might already have hit bottom, he also predicted commercial sales might see a crash by this summer or fall.

Held Jan. 21-23 in St. Augustine, Fla., the event drew more than 60 attendees including 31 dealers.