The International Refit Exhibition and Conference and the International Marina and Boatyard Conference, which are held in tandem at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, start Wednesday and run through Friday.
The Association of Marina Industries produces the conference, which is geared to marina and boatyard owners, operators and managers, as well as dockmasters, harbormasters, boatbuilders and repairers and industry consultants.
This year’s theme is innovation, IMBC business manager and director of events Kayce Florio said. “The focus is really about innovation, creating new profit streams, new revenue streams and leadership,” she said.
It’s an exciting time for the industry, which has seen investment dollars pouring in after years of stagnancy, Florio says.
The refit side of the industry has also seen a boom post-recession, said Nicole Jacques, who heads marketing and management for the show.
“We developed the refit show to be able to deliver to this market, which really is a niche market in America right now since not a lot of big custom boatbuilding is going on,” Jacques told Trade Only. “But a lot of refit is happening.”
After the economic collapse of 2008, when the boating industry was scrambling, a trend began to take hold. After a period that saw owners sell their large yachts and the construction of new yachts stalled, people began refitting yachts for less money and in less time.
Now refits are through the roof, particularly after Florida limited its sales tax to the first $1 million of a refit last year.
Because Professional BoatBuilder Magazine owns and produces the show, a lot of focus is on education, Jacques says. “The conference program is divided in half between business management topics and technical topics. This year we took feedback from last year’s seminar attendees and reached out to the boat industry — and specifically captains — to try to get their feedback. We know captains are an integral part of the refit process.”