Hurricane Ian intensified Monday night, with 105-mph maximum-sustained winds, hours ahead of what would have been the start of the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference, which was slated to run today through Thursday in Tampa, Fla.
“We were obviously disappointed to miss out on what is always the big trade gathering of the year in the U.S. It’s a great opportunity to network, launch new products, and see old friends and meet some new ones,” Imtra CEO Eric Braitmayer told Trade Only Today.
He said organizers “made the right decision and did it quickly and early enough that those of us that would be traveling to Florida for the show had time to adjust plans. We’ll miss gathering with the industry in Tampa but applaud the IBEX team for putting safety ahead of commerce.”
Scout Boats CEO Steve Potts agreed that there was no alternative but canceling the show.
“Exhibitors’ and attendees’ safety is paramount as Florida’s west coast continues to prepare for the impending hurricane,” Potts told Trade Only Today. “We at Scout understand all too well the impact of a hurricane, considering our history with Hurricane Hugo at the launch of our company back in 1989.”
Garmin is working to arrange virtual meetings with those the team won’t able to meet in Tampa, said sales director Dave Dunn.
“As much as we had hoped to be in Tampa this week with our customers and colleagues from around the world, we commend IBEX for making the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event,” Dunn said. “IBEX is a key show for us, but safety is top priority always. We look forward to the next opportunity to gather together as an industry, and in the meantime, our concern is with those in the path of this storm.”
Torqeedo leadership was excited to discuss the “emission-free future of the marine industry with colleagues.” However, marketing director Tess Smallridge, who grew up near Tampa, agrees that you never know which storms are going to be a really big deal until it’s “just about too late.”
“I was definitely looking forward to seeing my colleagues, but I’d rather not do it while treading water,” Smallridge told Trade Only Today. “Thanks to the IBEX team for keeping us all safe. It’s disappointing when you have to change your plans, but we’re boat people. We know what storms can do.”