“It’s good to be back in person,” Mercury Marine president Chris Drees told Soundings Trade Only on the second day of the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference.
Drees’ comment seemed to speak for many showgoers in Tampa, Fla. Attendance numbers for the show, which ran Sept. 28-30, exceeded organizers’ estimates.
The IBEX team had high expectations for this year’s in-person event, with early returns indicating strong dividends. The show had 560 exhibitors, including 80 new companies and 18 international exhibitors, and more than 3,200 visitors came to the Tampa Convention Center.
“I’ve talked with many of our exhibitors, and they are saying the same thing, that while attendance may have been impacted by Covid concerns, the quality of boatbuilders and industry buyers this year was exceptional,” show director Anne Dunbar said in a statement. “We all needed this event to reconnect and experience the new innovations that will move the marine industry forward. We are so pleased to have brought the industry together for another successful IBEX.”
In addition to the show floor, the IBEX docks, which were sold out, saw brisk action. A total of 29 boats were on display and kept a steady flow of traffic on the Hillsborough River. Hundreds also flocked to the preconference workshops and IBEX’s seminar series.
“It’s been great to get back here, see all the builders and exhibitors,” said East Penn account executive Charlie Ryan. “It’s such a special industry, and we’re just so happy that we’re able to be back together this year.”
“My favorite thing about IBEX has been the networking and seeing everyone in person,” said Allyson Spease, domestic customer service and marketing, Hawkeye Industries. “We were able to get hands-on experience and see some innovative new products in-person.”
Jackie Ahrens, CEO of Assembly Tool Specialists, said her company had its best show in recent memory.
“IBEX 2021 on the first day was better for us than all three days were in 2019 combined,” Ahrens said.
“To be successful, you have to place yourself on the path of progress, and IBEX is where you find it,” said Dean Clemente, of RMB Co. “The action is here, not sitting at your desk. If you’re not at IBEX, you are going to be left behind.”
Next year’s show is scheduled for Sept. 27-29 at the Tampa Convention Center.