RAI Amsterdam, the group that owns and produces the Marine Equipment Trade Show — now known as METS Trade — bought a 50 percent stake in the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference, buying out WoodenBoat Publications, publisher of IBEX founder Professional BoatBuilder magazine.
RAI will partner with the National Marine Manufacturers Association, beginning Friday, to produce future IBEX events, with an emphasis on giving European businesses more access to U.S. professionals. The current IBEX staff, including show director Anne Dunbar, will remain in place.
"We expect that this new partnership will add significant value to you, your company, this show and the industry and we look forward to the years ahead," NMMA president Thom Dammrich told the recreational marine industry after the deal was announced at IBEX in Tampa, Fla.
Carl Cramer, founding publisher of Maine-based Professional BoatBuilder magazine, who retired in December 2013, said that after organizing the event for more than a quarter of a century, it was the end of an era.
“Obviously IBEX has been great for Professional BoatBuilder over the years, so hopefully there will be some role for them over the years,” Cramer told Trade Only Today. “It’s the end of an era, so it’ll be curious to see what happens in terms of the format of the show. I like the people at the RAI and have worked with them over the years. They’re good partners.”
Dammrich sent a letter to members informing them of the change prior to the announcement at IBEX this morning.
“Working alongside WoodenBoat Publications we have made IBEX the best marine trade event in North America,” Dammrich wrote. “Through our new partnership with the RAI, we will build on that foundation to create one of the best marine trade events in the world. The RAI brings a wealth of event experience that will allow us to further our international efforts as we continue helping you grow your business around the globe.”
Although the two shows will maintain their own “unique focus and identity,” the RAI “will help foster international growth in attendees, exhibits and sponsorships,” Dammrich said.
"We are looking forward to partnering with the NMMA to bring together more industry resources for recreational marine businesses and professionals globally. As the new co-owners of IBEX, we will work together to grow an international presence of marine manufacturers and technology at IBEX while giving European businesses more access to U.S. professionals," RAI Exhibitions executive vice president Ids Boersma said in a statement.
"Together, IBEX and the METS Trade Show will be more collaborative to ensure all of the latest worldwide industry developments, training and products are being brought to the professionals attending each event."
"We are excited to enter into this new stage for IBEX and to work with RAI Amsterdam, a professional and highly skilled show management company, whose expertise will continue to help us to service the global marine marketplace," Dunbar said.
"Over the past several months we have been working closely with the IBEX team and are excited about the tremendous cooperation and teamwork we have experienced during this transition,” METS Trade maritime manager Irene Dros said. “Our team, along with Rens Jan van Vliet, who will be starting within the IBEX team as global sales and marketing manager, will work together to best serve the international marine industry."
"We at Professional BoatBuilder magazine, the company that founded IBEX, have sold our ownership in IBEX to the RAI. We've had a longstanding respect for the RAI, and we're confident they'll sustain the level of excellence we've achieved for the show since 1992," said Jim Miller, publisher and general manager of Professional BoatBuilder magazine.
"Our entire team is extraordinarily proud of the positive impact we've made on the boatbuilding and repair industry by launching IBEX 26 years ago,” Miller said. “Our goal has always been to deliver the critical technical information and updates that international professionals need to advance their businesses and our industry. IBEX is a premier resource annually for new product information and expert seminars, and we look forward to supporting IBEX under the ownership of the RAI and NMMA as we continue to be a technical education partner, as well as an exhibitor."