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IBEX and Me

IBEX, though it might read that way. These attendees were asked to give honest answers, including the cons, about this month’s show. They felt the trip to Tampa was worthwhile for many reasons. —The Editors

Steve Heese

Steve Heese

Steve Heese , President of Chris-Craft Boats

“We don’t want to be on the bleeding edge of anything,” says Heese. “Our customers expect us to build the best products and to decide if they need new features on board. There’s no better place to go than IBEX to see all that stuff. It’s a one-stop shop.

“It’s a good time of year for the show because we can incorporate new products into our model change,” he says. “We’ve always gone there to see what’s new, even when we had to get on airplanes. My goal was to walk the show floor and come away with a list of new products. We all compare notes and distill that list. We find at least 10 interesting new products in a typical year.”

While Heese does not usually go to the seminars, his production team does. “We’re constantly looking for new ways to get our brains fertilized,” he says. “There’s an EPA rep coming this year to talk about regulations, so I’ll attend that one. I’ll also be at the Grow Boating marketing seminar because they have an interesting group of speakers.

“I’ve gone to METS three times in the last 20 years and won’t go anymore,” Heese says. “So much of the stuff at METS is for megayachts. We get what we need at IBEX.”

Charlie Haimes

Charlie Haimes

Charlie Haimes , Partner, Haimes-Coleman Group

Charlie Haimes is a partner in the Haimes-Coleman Group, a manufacturer’s representative firm from Sunrise, Fla. He looks at IBEX as a missed opportunity for dealers, especially those in Florida, who don’t attend. “We tell them, go,” says Haimes. “There’s no better way for dealers in the Southeast to learn about our manufacturers. They’re missing an opportunity to have their technicians learn about the products for free. Where else do you have all categories of business in the marine industry in one spot for three days?”

Haimes-Coleman Group hosts an annual Marine Tech Tour to give marine industry suppliers an opportunity to engage directly with distributor sales representatives and marine dealer personnel, including salespeople, riggers, installers, builders and boatyards. Haimes says IBEX is the same thing, but with all the players in the marine industry available to answer questions.

His firm will attend the aftermarket conference Monday evening, and then HCG staff will be on the IBEX floor or in clients’ booths to help facilitate communication with attendees.“We’ve promoted IBEX to our aftermarket clients and tried to get our distributors to go and learn,” says Haimes. “Every one of our companies is happy to answer questions from boatbuilders and dealers.”

Don Kirkland

Don Kirkland

Don Kirkland, President of MESCO Marine

“I’ve only been going for the last five years,” says Don Kirkland, president of the New Jersey-based regional distributor, who brings a team of five to the show. “The way it has evolved into an exhibition of accessories and boatbuilding supplies has made it more interesting for us since we handle a broad line of products. Years ago, IBEX was only about the boatbuilders, but the NMMA has made it more attractive for aftermarket equipment suppliers.”

Kirkland says IBEX has also been a way to source new products. “With the exception of LED lighting and electronics, the aftermarket industry has been a bit static when it comes to new products,” he says. “This is certainly a venue for entrepreneurs to take a booth and hoist their flags.”

The show can provide 10 new product lines in a good year, five in a slower one. “A portion of growth for our dealers and ourselves comes through new products,” he says. “So this can be a valuable source.”

The show’s timing also works for Mesco’s annual catalogue. “We tend to see suppliers at STEP in June, but there’s not always time to establish pricing for products. That can be a long, drawn-out process. IBEX lets us meet with our suppliers to follow up on unfinished business. It’s really the last cough for seeing a vendor physically before we release our catalogue.

“It’s also kind of a must-go event from the standpoint of networking, and you typically hear some news or get some valuable information,” he says. “Of course, the conversations are better some years than others.”

The number of attending distributors seems to depend on geographic location and time of year. “Some are better than others at going to IBEX,” says Kirkland. “We all have our busy seasons and cyclicality for catalogues and product introductions. But this show is critical to our way of thinking.”

Peter Truslow

Peter Truslow

Peter Truslow, President of Bertram Yachts

Truslow has gone to IBEX for 20 years. The former president of EdgeWater Power Boats says the show has provided opportunities to different parts of his organization. “I’ve never missed it,” he says. “I go on the show floor for meetings with vendors while our engineers and production people take classes about compliance issues or new technologies.”

The booths at the back of the show have also provided content for new boats. “We’ve always picked up new products by going to IBEX, especially now that a lot of manufacturers’ reps don’t come around to the builders as often,” Truslow says. “There are a lot of cool products and ideas at that show that drive innovation. We’ve found that to be very valuable, especially for smaller companies that don’t have huge engineering staffs.”

The speed of innovation is accelerating. “There are some big trends including composite technologies and communications that are changing fast,” Truslow says. “You always see the big players like Garmin, Navico, Carling and others, but there will also be a lot of new companies displaying for the first time.

“The composite shows are good, but they’re not specific to marine,” Truslow says. “On the flip side, I’d like to see more non-marine companies from the automotive and home sectors at IBEX. So many of the changes in society are being driven by those industries. A lot of that technology will end up on boats.”

Raymond Toth

Raymond Toth

Raymond Toth, Marine Surveyor

Toth says IBEX has been instrumental in launching his marine surveying business in Ontario after he retired from 23 years in the Canadian military. When he began Swiftsure Vessel Solutions Ltd., he took some ABYC courses and saw an advertisement the group issued about exhibiting at the trade event. He was also a design student at Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology and learned they too would have a booth at IBEX.

“When I looked at the classes ABYC and Westlawn had to offer, I realized it was the place to be,” says Toth. “I wound up going, and it absolutely changed my career. There was no other boat show or convention that offered what IBEX did.”

Toth has become an associate member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers as a result of his times at IBEX. “I’m also a certified marine surveyor through the National Association of Marine Surveyors,” he says. “And that actually ended up leading me to take the NMMA engineering compliance seminars every year, as well.”

At the show, Toth has met International Marine Certification Institute members from Europe, and members of, where Toth obtains his standards information.

He is involved with ABYC’s electrical project technical committee because of IBEX and works as an adjunct professor for the group. “It was an opportunity to meet people in the industry who do what I do face to face,” Toth says. “My clients love it because I’m able to stay abreast of all the changes.”

Derek Rhymes

Derek Rhymes

Derek Rhymes, Marine Surveyor

Because IBEX is trade only, Derek Rhymes, with Maryland-based All Boat & Yacht Inspections, appreciates that he can approach members of the industry without all the crowds prevalent at boat shows.

“I can go look at a particular equipment manufacturer and talk to engineers or principals about a product and get some detailed, specific information about it,” Rhymes says. “When I’m seeing it there at IBEX, I know I’m going to be seeing it in the field, installed on yachts and boats down the road, and I want to know as much as possible about it.”

IBEX is the only event that brings together all the technical components of the industry, notes Rhymes, including equipment manufacturers, marine surveyors, naval architects and marina service yards.

“You make invaluable connections, you really do,” Rhymes says. “I’ve been going to IBEX close to 20 years. I look forward to seeing the same people and, of course, meeting new people.”

Meetings before and after IBEX provide added incentives to attend. ABYC has its technical board meeting after IBEX, Rhymes says, “so it ensures that I’m there.”

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue.



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