Many rubber manufacturers and suppliers long for the "good old days" of the industry, when demand was high, business was steady and-despite the many cost and pricing challenges the companies faced-profits were there for the taking. The U.S. economy, however, is a duplicitous partner, and those golden years-still a relatively fresh memory, occurring in 1996-98-quickly transitioned into a downturn. Signs of the impending recession began in the fourth quarter of 2000, and the business environment changed into one of weak markets, cutbacks, and decreased production and sales. Like most of the manufacturing portions of the rubber industry, the rubber-covered roller sector has been depressed the past couple of years. Business continues to be slow, though some companies have seen partial recovery in quotes and sales.