To IBEX or not to IBEX?

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The International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition and Conference ain’t what it used to be.

As a dealer, you’ve likely never thought about attending IBEX. That’s because for more than 20 years it was a show devoted solely to boatbuilding technologies and, accordingly, offered industry retailers very little.

But all that has changed in recent years — and for good reason. When it opens for its three-day run next month, it will boast more than 500 exhibiting companies showcasing products and services to attendees from 50 countries. And while the latest in boatbuilding technologies is still a central theme, IBEX now paints with a much broader brush and has become a first-class all-industry event with something for all segments.

Leading the change is an unmatched program that packs more than 90 educational sessions into 13 tracks in three days -- business management sessions, product workshops and technical clinics, all featuring experts in their fields. For example, keynote speaker for the Oct. 2 industry breakfast will be Steve H. Murdock, former director of the U.S. Census Bureau. He’ll address how the changing demographics in America are going to impact all segments of the marine industry from builders to dealers.

The 13 educational tracks comprise a truly diverse range of industry-specific learning opportunities. Tracks include: Dealer Development; Marina & Boatyard Management; Service Department Excellence; Survey & Repair; Marine Electronics; and eight others. And, if you’ll pardon a crass plug, I will be teaming up with Boston-area dealer Larry Russo to present a seminar, moderated by Sounding Trade Only’s Reagan Haynes, on “Building Customer Loyalty.” It’s just one of the sessions included in the Dealer Development track. Hope you’ll join us for this one.

One thing is certain: IBEX is definitely not a one-size-fits-all event. Its diverse exhibit base and, especially, its extensive educational format allows attendees to tailor their own program. In fact, because there are so many offerings, you’ll likely find it hard to attend everything you might want to, so planning ahead is a must.

IBEX will be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. It’s produced by Professional BoatbuilderMagazine and NMMA. For a complete look at the seminar and workshop tracks and everything else about IBEX, go to


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