MAATS is combined with IBEX

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The Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show has been discontinued as a stand-alone event and will instead be folded into the International BoatBuilders' Exhibition and Conference, which takes place in the fall, the National Marine Manufacturers Association announced today.

IBEX, set for Oct. 12-14 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Florida, is owned and produced by the NMMA and Professional BoatBuilder magazine.

Attendance at MAATS, as well as the number of exhibitors, has been dropping in recent years. This year's show, which was held in July in Orlando, drew 211 exhibitors and 1,345 badge-holders.

The NMMA had previously said the show would move back to Las Vegas next year to stay co-located with the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show, but ultimately decided it was no longer a viable show.

"After examining the existing and future landscape of the show with the MAATS planning committee and evaluating feedback from exhibitors, it was clear the industry would be best served by combining MAATS with IBEX," said Ben Wold, NMMA's executive vice president of shows. "This is a welcome change, as it will improve efficiency in the marine trade-show environment. One trade event for OEM and aftermarket parts and accessories will create a more productive environment, reduce exhibitor costs and time, and attract a broader base of attendees to the show."

Carl Cramer, publisher of Professional BoatBuilder magazine, said IBEX will always be centered on boatbuilding technology, and adding a MAATS pavilion would not detract from the show's core mission. Instead, it would create new business opportunities.

"The critical mass of the show, in terms of number of exhibitors as well as number of buyers, shrunk and shrunk and shrunk, and it got down to a point where you say, 'Is this really still viable?' " Wold told Soundings Trade Only.

"The buying community, in terms of the number of people, is relatively small, and there's still the classic trade-show mindset among some that expects lots of people, heavy aisle density on the show floor, and yet the key to MAATS was really always the buyer-supplier meetings, as well as the show floor," he said.

At this year's IBEX there will be an accessories pavilion featuring about 100 companies, Wold said, adding he expects that to grow in the coming years.

Because of the discontinuation of MAATS, the National Marine Distributors Association will move its annual Sales, Training, Education & Purchasing conference from Las Vegas for 2010, executive director Nancy Cueroni told Soundings Trade Only.

Instead, the show will likely be held somewhere in the middle of the country to make it easier for members to attend.

"We're disappointed [about the demise of MAATS] because it was truly the only show for aftermarket accessories," Cueroni said. Many distributors do not attend IBEX, as it's generally too late in the year to be a buying event for NMDA members.

Cueroni said it's possible the NMDA will look to incorporate some of the benefits of MAATS into future S.T.E.P events.

- Beth Rosenberg

b.rosenberg@tradeonlytoday.com

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