TAMPA, Fla. — The International Marina & Boatyard Conference wrapped up Friday evening after three days of seminars, industry networking and extensive training. Attendance was up 15 percent from last year, making this the largest IMBC since the annual conference began 13 years ago.
"We are excited about this year's growth and delighted to have had so many marina and boatyard colleagues attend the event," said Jeff Rose, senior vice president of Marinas International and chairman of the Association of Marina Industries. "It's clear to me the economy is continuing to rebound and that IMBC is the place for continuing education, meeting with industry suppliers and networking with other marina professionals."
The conference, considered one of the world’s leading marina and boatyard events, is geared to marina owners, boatyard owners, operators and managers, as well as dock masters, harbormasters, boatbuilders and industry consultants. The AMI-produced conference was held Jan. 28-30 at the Tampa (Fla.) Convention Center.
AMI director Mark Amaral said there were more than 830 conferees and 130 exhibition booths. Hank Whitley, manager at Southport Marina in Southport, N.C., said he and other marina managers attend the conference not only for the training opportunities, but also for the industry networking.
“We come every year,” Whitley said. “We see the same people, reconnect; we almost can’t miss it.”
Whitley and Southport Marina were named ValvTect’s Marina of the Year by ValvTect president Jerry Nessenson on Thursday.
The event is organized into four tracks, allowing conferees to select workshops, lectures and seminars most suited to their marina’s needs. Three of the tracks — Coastal, Inland and Boatyard/Service — have been an integral part of the IMBC since its origins. A Marina Design and Engineering track was added in 2013 and offers full-day courses presented by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Conference highlights included two inspiring keynote speakers on Thursday morning and a third keynote speaker on Friday.
Friday afternoon’s Best Profit Award featured the three best ideas for creating new profit in a marina or boatyard business; those three ideas were chosen from entries that were submitted last year. The winner was selected by audience members on Friday who voted via text message. The winner will be announced later this week.
AMI had a membership drive during the conference, new this year to IMBC.
Friday afternoon featured six additional hands-on workshops that gave participants an opportunity to delve into topics such as the reduction of business income taxes and search engine optimization. Other workshops Friday focused on the Clean Marina Program, human resources management and improvements to business websites.
All three keynote speakers at this year’s IMBC spoke on leadership. On Thursday morning, Jim Hunter’s inspiring and informative lecture, “The Power of Servant Leadership,” addressed the need for good leadership and offered servant leadership examples from Southwest Airlines and other leading American corporations. He spoke about the qualities needed for leadership and how to identify and meet the needs of employees.
Thursday’s second speaker, author David McNair, offered an inspiring presentation about how to distinguish a business and make a lasting impression. McNair’s touching presentation, “Unleash the Unexpected,” provided data from in-depth, long-term research along specific examples about how to stand out in a crowded field. Hunter and McNair held follow-up small-group seminars on leadership skills Thursday after the keynote address. Both seminars were filled to capacity.
Friday’s keynote speaker, Bill Yeargin, focused on character, culture and clarity. His "Lessons in Leadership" presentation urged the audience to remember that small differences create huge results. Yeargin is the president and CEO of Correct Craft, an 89-year-old marine industry holding company with global operations. Correct Craft’s subsidiaries include Nautique Boats and Aktion Parks.
The IMBC will shift to Fort Lauderdale next year and will be held Jan. 27-29 at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.