ORLANDO, Fla. - The Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show is headed back to Las Vegas next year, officials confirmed following this year's show. MAATS was held July 15-17 at the Orange County Convention Center in conjunction with the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades.
"It just made sense to stay co-located with ICAST," said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which produces MAATS, of the change in venue for 2010.
ICAST had previously announced its plans to return to a West Coast venue, but a decision on MAATS' location was announced to this year's exhibitors on the last day of the show.
Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the aftermarket accessories show.
In addition, it is expected that the National Marine Distributors Association's S.T.E.P. conference also will move back to Las Vegas next year.
"Our intention at this time is to co-locate S.T.E.P. at MAATS again," executive director Nancy Cueroni told Soundings Trade Only.
Organizers say both S.T.E.P. and MAATS were a success this year, and exhibitors seemed generally pleased with the amount of business at the show and the turnout. Final attendance figures were not immediately available, though estimates looked to be down from last year's 1,833 attendees.
This year's event featured 210 exhibiting companies, of which 55 were new to MAATS in 2009.
"There was a more optimistic and upbeat mood among the aftermarket, which is very refreshing," Dammrich said following the show. Many agreed that while boat sales have declined dramatically, the accessories market in many cases is holding its own.
"I've been very pleased with the people who have been coming through," said Jack Barnes, of Perko, adding he was "mildly surprised" at the amount of business his company did at S.T.E.P. and the people that came to the booth at MAATS.
Having the event in Orlando also added to the number of local people coming in for the day, something that doesn't happen in Las Vegas, he said.
"We had a great show," added Tony Barber, sales manager from Thetford Corp.
Barber said MAATS' 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 said.
"We've got a lot of commitments for a lot of the new stuff," he added. "On a 10-scale, I was at a two when we got to the show. Now I'm at a 9.8."
For more on MAATS, see the August and September issues of Soundings Trade Only.
— Beth Rosenberg