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'The General' will open up IBEX

“The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that is important.” – Former Army, Indiana and Texas Tech men’s basketball coach Bob Knight.

When legendary basketball coach Bob Knight opens the 2014 International BoatBuilders' Exhibition & Conference next Tuesday morning, it’s a message thousands of marine industry professionals gathered in the Tampa (Fla.) Convention Center are likely to hear. And it’s not too late to be there to hear it.

Dubbed “The General” from his early coaching days at West Point, Knight can be expected to point to his emphasis on preparation as the cornerstone of his matchless winning record (902 career wins; three national championships at Indiana; 11 Big Ten Championships; 1 NIT championship; coach of the 1984 Olympic gold-medal team; four-time National Coach of the Year; Big Ten Coach of the Year eight times; perfected college basketball’s motion offense and much more.)

If preparation is the key to success in basketball and business, his philosophy reflects why marine dealers should attend IBEX, our industry’s largest technical event. While it’s focused much on boatbuilding, dealers need to know what’s coming in boat and servicing expertise and IBEX is a genuine way to prepare.

In fact, with today’s rapid advances in technology, the dealership principle and lead service personnel need to be exposed to the latest equipment, materials, techniques and trends. Clearly, increased knowledge prepares both to provide better customer service and grow the business.

Whether it’s the move to Tampa or the fact that the industry is growing again, this year’s IBEX boasts more than 550 exhibiting companies, including 142 that didn’t display last year and 80 first-timers. They’ll be showcasing thousands of new products and processes.

Equally impressive is a 34 percent overall increase in advance registrations to date. For dealers in the Southeast region, the new Tampa location is a real advantage. Moreover, for the first time in IBEX history, the on-the-water Tampa location allows in-water demonstrations of new technology from exhibitors like Elco, Honda, Nauticus, Volvo, Raymarine, Torqeedo, Mercury and more than a dozen others. But there’s more.

While some technical sessions (the preshow super sessions only) require a registration fee, there will be more than 20 free exhibitor workshops live on the show floor and access to all the exhibit halls and in-water section is always free. Overall, IBEX is offering 55 educational seminars on wide-ranging topics, many of interest to dealers, like: “Attracting Customers Thru Customer Education Programs,” “How Boats are Adapting to Smartphones, Tablets & the Internet,” “Efficient Gelcoat Repairs” or “How to Target and Engage New Audiences including the Hispanic Community,” presented and sponsored by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and Soundings Trade Only.

Finally, IBEX has a smartphone app giving complete show information including access to the list of exhibitors, booth numbers, a searchable exhibit floor, live links to all social media, a list of events and complete information on seminars, workshops and locations. It will make it much easier to navigate the entire exposition. To download the app, click here.

IBEX will run Tuesday-Thursday, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, in the Tampa Convention Center. Registration is free for this trade only event. For information, go to

Oh, yes, and in the interest of full disclosure, my wife, Kay, and I are Indiana University alums and Bob Knight fans. We suspect on Tuesday the coach will share the truth behind that famous chair-throwing incident. But if he doesn’t, I promise to fill you in next week.


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