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MAATS returning to Las Vegas in 2010

The aftermarket show stays hitched to ICAST and also has plans for a mini-MAATS at next year's IBEX

The Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show is headed back to Las Vegas next year for its 10th anniversary, co-locating again with the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades and the National Marine Distributors Association's Sales, Training, Education & Purchasing conference.

This year's show was held July 15-17 in Orlando, Fla., in conjunction with ICAST and STEP, and though organizers and exhibitors were pleased with the business done at the show, the decision was made to stay with ICAST, which had previously planned to return to Las Vegas in 2010. "There's just so much synergy between the shows. We get a fair amount of [crossover traffic]," says Stephen Evans, director of trade events and meeting services for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which produces MAATS. "I saw a lot of ICAST badges on the MAATS side, and I'm sure vice versa."

Beyond 2010, it's unknown what will happen with MAATS. Some are calling for a consolidation of the show with the International BoatBuilders' Exhibition and Conference, which is held in Florida in October. "There are companies that feel there are too many shows," Evans says. "So there's a contingent that would like to see [MAATS and IBEX combine]. But by the same token, there's also a very good forum for wanting to maintain MAATS in its current format."

So for 2010, in addition to the traditional MAATS show, there will be a pavilion at IBEX for those who do not wish to attend MAATS.

The total number of MAATS badges distributed this year was 1,345 - down from 1,780 in 2008, according to the NMMA. Actual attendance was higher, organizers say, because MAATS co-located with ICAST and people were going back and forth between the two. ICAST distributed 7,400 badges.

In 2007, MAATS drew 1,950 people, down from 2,426 in 2006.

This year's show featured 210 exhibitors, 55 of which were new to MAATS. That was down from 2008's 293 exhibitors, which was down from 319 in 2007 and 365 in 2006.

"MAATS in its current format continues to just be a fabulous format for new companies," Evans says. "There's just been story after story of companies that got their start at MAATS and are now doing very well."

Kathleen Synkoski, vice president of sales and marketing for Florida-based EZ Splice Fasteners, says it was her company's second year at the show, and she was thrilled with the response. "We got more than what we expected, and we had high expectations coming in," she said on the final afternoon of the show.

Tony Barber, sales manager with Ann Arbor, Mich.-based sanitation products manufacturer Thetford Corp., agrees that MAATS's unique feature of allowing time for buyer-supplier meetings in the morning followed by an afternoon of exhibiting time is a winning combination. "I think the people were more committed this year to come into the booth after we had the meeting with them," he says. "We've got a lot of commitments for a lot of the new stuff. On a 10-scale, I was at a 2 when we got to the show. Now I'm at a 9.8. We had a great show."

NMMA president Thom Dammrich also notes the difference in the mood at MAATS, compared with other industry shows. "There's a more optimistic and upbeat mood among the aftermarket, which is very refreshing," he says.

This article originally appeared in the September 2009 issue.

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