The Marine Equipment Trade Show, now known as METS Trade, is scheduled Nov. 15-17 in expanded exhibition space at RAI Amsterdam — a venue one CEO calls his company’s “number one place to find new products.”
The nearly 10,000 square feet of exhibit space that came with the addition of an extra hall has attracted U.S. marine companies such as Yamaha and Dometic — two of a growing roster American companies that attend the international B2B show.
“I would go as far as to say that METS Trade is a must-attend event for American companies looking to do business overseas,” says Irene Dros, manager of maritime METS Trade at RAI Amsterdam. Year-over-year, an increasing number of U.S. companies are coming to Amsterdam to exhibit, she says. “With more than 22,000 visitors from every part of the globe — well over 110 countries were represented at the most recent show — it is unique for its global audience.”
The international appeal has contributed to the show’s continuous growth over the past 30 years, Dros says. “While IBEX is a good event for the U.S. market, American marine professionals have to be at METS Trade if they require a truly comprehensive overview of the entire marine equipment supply sector.”
New Bedford, Mass.-based Imtra sends a relatively substantial team of four to six representatives each year because the show is “highly important” to the company and its business, according to CEO Eric Braitmayer. “METS is a great opportunity to visit with our global network of suppliers and partners,” he says. “We work with companies from Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, France, New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere — and we can visit with them in person over one three-day period. That makes the investment to send four or six people easy to justify.”
Not only do they connect with current customers, the company is also scouting new products and trends that might not have reached the United States. “We search the many halls looking for new products to bring to our customer base. Trends present themselves easily, with thousands of exhibitors in one place,” Braitmayer says. “It’s our number one place to find new products. We also catch up with old industry friends, customers and members of the international press.”
The U.S. Superyacht Association joined with the National Marine Manufacturers Association to create the first USA Superyacht Pavilion in the newly expanded SuperYacht Pavilion.
The inaugural USSA/NMMA USA Superyacht Pavilion will be in the superyacht area in the recently renamed Hall 11. “We are delighted to be working with USSA to bring America’s superyacht suppliers to center stage at METS Trade,” says NMMA president Thom Dammrich. “Our partnership with USSA ensures U.S. companies are recognized as premier suppliers to the global superyacht industry.”
“Being able to offer this opportunity to our members has been a significant goal of our association for many years,” says USSA chairman Rick Gladych.
The Sustainability in the Marine Industry Conference is scheduled Nov. 14 at RAI Amsterdam on the day before METS Trade opens its doors. The conference will be chaired by Udo Kleinitz, secretary general of ICOMIA, and the key speakers will include Willem Dekker, president of the European Boating Association, and Mirna Cieniewicz, secretary general of European Boating Industry.
The sustainability conference is a direct follow-up to last year’s Future of Yacht Recycling conference, which also was held on the first day of METS week. It is being jointly organized by Quaynote Communications and YachtMedia, hosted by METS Trade and technically supported by the International Council of Marine Industry Associations. “This second conference is assured of an impressive lineup of acknowledged marine industry experts, together with a broad-based international audience,” says YachtMedia’s Peter Franklin.
Another highly anticipated part of METS Trade is the Design Awards, known to the industry as the DAME Awards. Last year, the DAME design award had two winners for the first time in 25 years — going to Lume-On Lifejacket Light by Spinlock and the Electric Stabilizing Fin & Interceptor System by Humphree.
The 150 euro — about $167 — registration fee is always donated to a charity. Since 2005, RAI Amsterdam has been supporting AMREF Flying Doctors, and this cause was appointed the DAME charity recipient by the METS Trade Exhibition Committee for every even year.
The 2016 donations will contribute to the AMREF project ‘A healthy future for girls in Kilindi,’ aimed at introducing an alternative rite of passage to female genital mutilation in a remote area in Tanzania, as well as increasing access to safe drinking water, clean sanitation and hygiene.
Networking by nation
METS is organized by country rather than by product grouping. The USA Pavilion is where American companies can display, using NMMA branding and promotional materials. Last year’s METS was a success for the 80 U.S. companies in the pavilion. Trade Only is cosponsoring the pavilion with the NMMA and is partnering with Catapult Creative Labs (a division of Trade Only’s parent company Active Interest Media) to sponsor a Product Demonstration Theater in the pavilion.
The pavilion had a record number of participants and had to turn some exhibitors away, says NMMA export director Julie Balzano. The pavilion, which had all-new branding in 2015, has a 95 percent retention rate.
The show has a very positive, but varied vibe. “You see many people in suits with more formal or traditional approaches to business,” Braitmayer says. “You also see more casual approaches. It depends on the product segment and sometimes on the culture of the home market.”
Many manufacturers host group training sessions or dinners that bring their global distribution networks together, Braitmayer says. “It’s a great opportunity to learn about new products from the manufacturers, and an opportunity to trade best practices and share new ideas with people selling the same products in other markets. It’s great to share what is working for Imtra in the States with other like companies — and we learn a lot, too.”
The parties hosted by international marine trade associations bring people together “to cheer on their countrymen,” Braitmayer says, but those also present networking opportunities. “If we are at the Aussie party with our mates from Muir, or the Australian distributors for Sidepower, we will usually get introduced to another company from Down Under,” Braitmayer says.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue.