Louisville in 2010 promises big savings

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The International BoatBuilders' Exhibition & Conference has ended its seven-year run in Miami Beach and next year heads to the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. IBEX 2010, produced by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Professional BoatBuilder magazine, is scheduled for Sept. 28-30.

Exhibitors at this year's show were generally positive about the move, many of them hopeful the location will bring a larger turnout. Louisville is central to more than 8,000 marine companies, including manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and distributors. Also, organizers say, exhibit space is less expensive and so are hotel rates, food and entertainment.

The Kentucky Expo Center is the sixth-largest convention facility in the United States. With more than a million square feet of exhibit and meeting space, it can easily accommodate IBEX and the new MAATS Aftermarket Pavilion, which will be part of next year's event.

"We've been hammered pretty hard [by exhibitors] on costs," says show co-director Stephen Evans, from the NMMA. He estimates exhibitor sentiment runs 10-to-1 in favor of the move.

Labor rates at the expo center will be down as much as 8 to 10 percent from the Miami Beach Convention Center, and Louisville hotel rates are as much as 20 percent lower. Exhibitors and attendees seem ready for a new, exciting venue, says show co-director Carl Cramer, publisher of Professional BoatBuilder magazine. There's some "fatigue" with the South Florida venue, he says.

"The first day [of IBEX] is an indication of why we need to be in Louisville. Geographically, it's a much more accessible place," says Tim McDonnell, president of Marinco Electrical Group, noting the slow traffic this year.

Frank Marciano, president of Dometic Marine, says he's heard mixed reviews about the move. "It's not a slam dunk," he says. "Hopefully, people will support it."

Bruce Essig, national sales manager, program distribution groups, of Odyssey Batteries/EnerSys, applauded the decision to move. "Louisville will provide a closer proximity to the high-volume boatbuilders," he says. "I think it's the right thing to do."

This article originally appeared in the November 2009 issue.

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