Organizers expect a record number of marine industry professionals — more than 7,000 — to attend the Oct. 4-6 International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference this year in Tampa, Fla.
“I can’t give specifics yet, but overall registration is trending higher week over week than in 2014, the last time IBEX was held in Tampa,” Kate Holden, IBEX marketing director, said in early September. There were 4,700 conferees at last year’s event in Louisville at the Kentucky Exposition Center, compared with 6,900 in 2014 at the Tampa Convention Center.
IBEX has 556 exhibitors this year, including more than 110 newcomers, and an additional 5,000 square feet of exhibit hall, dock and outdoor space. The return to Tampa this year focuses on expanded dock space and exhibits, future materials and digital technology, a jam-packed seminar schedule with all-star speakers as well as a program for marine industry millennials.
“The IBEX docks have doubled in size this year,” says show director Anne Dunbar. “Live sea trials add an exciting new dimension to IBEX by creating a unique selling opportunity for the exhibitors and a memorable show experience for visitors.”
The on-the-water exhibits at the 2014 IBEX in Tampa were a big hit, but there was no waterfront space for exhibitors or live demonstrations in Louisville last year.
In Tampa, look for these companies on the docks: Bombardier Recreational Products, Honda Marine, JL Audio, Lumitec, Medallion Instrumentation Systems, Mercury Marine, SeaStar Solutions, Navico (Simrad products), Suzuki Motors of America, Torqeedo, Uflex USA, Volvo Penta, Yamaha Motor Corp. and GEM Products.
“We work very hard to find unique ways to demonstrate our parts to our primary customers, the boatbuilders,” says Gem Products Inc. CEO Matthew Bridgewater. “This year, GEM’s primary booth will be out on the water. We will have three of our customers’ boats in the water, with our new production parts installed on them. We have secured more than 1,000 square feet of floating dock, and we even have a large air-conditioned tent covering most of the dock so that we can avoid the heat and any rain.”
The company will be demonstrating the Gemlux Fishing system, an outrigger fishing product for center console boats with carbon fiber adjustable outriggers that can extend to 28 feet; new mounts enable the user to rotate the outriggers more than 90 degrees in each direction and raise them to an almost vertical position.
The Gemlux outriggers and mounts enable the user to pull large mullet dredges and teasers with electric reels directly from the middle of the outrigger, says Bridgewater.
“This … enables the center console boat to compete with large sportfishing boats on an even playing field,” says Bridgewater. “We simply could not display them properly in a traditional convention center booth. Customers can see how we rig the boats for competitive fishing.”
IBEX is also holding five dockside seminars through its education partners, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the American Boat & Yacht Council. The NMMA’s Onboard Diagnostics seminar starts in a classroom, but includes theoretical study and hands-on training down at the docks. A panel of experts from Rinda Technologies, Indmar Products and Volvo Penta, led by John McKnight of the NMMA, will walk conferees through the functions of available scanning tools before diagnosing simulated engine problems in real time.
In addition, ABYC-certified master marine technician Kevin Ritz returns to Tampa to walk attendees through “Grounding and Galvanic Corrosion and Electrical Troubleshooting” aboard a vessel brought to IBEX for this purpose. Demonstration exhibits from Gatorbak, Infinity Woven Products, Roswell Marine and Tides Marine will bolster the outdoor offerings.
IBEX will continue to support the next generation of marine industry leaders with its Marine Millennial initiative, a program for young professionals under the age of 35 to connect, learn, share and expand their presence in the industry through mentoring and education programs, as well as social and networking events. A Marine Mentor Program will give members the opportunity to learn from current and former leaders in the marine industry, says Warren McCrickard of Infinity Fabrics, co-chairman of the program. Millennials will hear from Grady-White president Kris Carroll, NMMA president Thom Dammrich and vice president of Chaparral and Robalo Boats Ann Baldree. “The idea is to create a Q&A environment and also devote some time for one-on-one interaction with these highly successful players in the industry,” says McCrickard. “About 300 millennials will be participating in IBEX in some way. As we transition into leadership roles we need to stay in contact and build each other up.”
The “Hang Ten” tag program will allow every millennial to identify 10 exhibitors, technologies or displays they believe stand out for innovation. Their picks will be posted on a centralized board, says McCrickard.
McCrickard says the Millennials group isn’t just about socializing. That’s why at this year’s IBEX the group will choose an advisory board consisting of six to eight millennials who will be dedicated to the group’s success and growth, he says.
In its third year, the Future Materials hands-on exhibit at the center of the Composites Pavilion continues to grow. Innovations from the marine, aerospace and automotive industries and some applied academic research will be displayed.
The Composites Pavilion, consisting of more than 75 companies in more than 12,600 square feet of exhibit space, will be set up on the third floor of the convention center. It will include the Future Materials showcase and Composites Tech Talks, sponsored by Composites One and Magnum Venus Products.
Sarah Devlin, IBEX’s director of education, is pumped up about the IBEX seminar program. “Our most popular seminar is Return of Engineering Live, a two-part seminar led by Richard Downs-Honey,” says Devlin. “He’s an incredibly engaging speaker and has pulled together a panel that includes a boatbuilder, a 3D modeling expert and production engineers. They will work with the audience to theorize the best approach to creating a center-console sportfisherman — very hands-on.”
Harry Schoell will lead two panels: New Advancements in Stepped Hulls and Avoiding the Bad Turns. “Schoell is an expert on stepped hulls and will be joined by Dick Akers, Rob Kaidy and Jeff Bowles — all heavy hitters,” says Devlin.
Another critical seminar will be EPA Boatbuilder Residual Risk Regulations: What it Means for Your Business, organized by the NMMA’s John McKnight. It aims to educate manufacturers on the MACT standards from the early 2000s and the residual risk that the EPA is looking into now, says Devlin. “This could mean potential new regulations,” she says. “The seminar will include EPA staff who can explain what they’re looking at and what it means for our industry.”
In addition, organizers are bringing in a marina manager and a Sea Grant representative to talk about storm water runoff; a traditional surveyor, paired with a modern surveyor, will talk about spars and rigging, from wood to carbon; and two Dutch designers will discuss the most fascinating approach to design, using your eyes on the street and a software program. “On top of all that, Devlin says, “the ABYC is putting on a Gallagher-like seminar to show what happens when people don’t follow standards.”
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue.