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Marine dealers positive on 60th ICAST

By Craig Ritchie

Marine equipment manufacturers who exhibited at the 60th annual ICAST were generally pleased with their results at the world’s largest fishing tackle trade show, held last week at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

The 2017 show opened to heavy crowds of dealers and tackle industry professionals from 73 different countries. Exhibition space at the show sold out in March, with more than 570 exhibitors in 1,982 booths showing a wide range of rods, reels, lures and accessories over an area in excess of 200,000 square feet. Visitor numbers over the three-day event were reported as 15,000 people.

For the second year, the show included a Marine Accessories Pavilion organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, with a number of manufacturers showcasing a variety of marine equipment.

NMMA Pavilion Exhibitor Brian Fish with Solas Propellers

“Boating and fishing are both doing very well right now. The latest numbers indicate fishing participation is up by 20 percent, while boat registrations were up last year and the overall mood is very positive,” said NMMA President Thom Dammrich. “This is our second year with the NMMA Marine Accessories Pavilion at ICAST. Many fishing tackle dealers sell some amount of marine product, and we see this as an opportunity for marine accessory manufacturers to grow their business by building their distribution network.”

Chad Jaros, director of sales and marketing for Wildwood, Florida-based Crevalle Boats, exhibited as part of the NMMA booth with a 26 Open center console on display.

“We chose to come to ICAST this year so that we could put our product in front of people would we wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to show it to,” said Jaros. “It’s working out very well. Having a boat in the booth provides a clear talking point, and we’ve had some good discussions.”

The NMMA Pavilion changed locations within the show this year, which pleased some exhibitors. For Solas Science and Engineering’s Brian Fish, the new location on the floor appeared busier.

“There’s definitely more foot traffic than there was last year,” he said. “Part of that may also be more interest from the dealers. Propellers are a fairly natural product line for a fishing retailer to carry, and represent an opportunity to grow sales and better serve their customers.”

For the fourth consecutive year, Florida Governor Rick Scott visited ICAST, which is said to be the only trade show he visits on an annual basis.

The NMMA Pavilion at ICAST displayed a range of marine equipment, including boats.

“There are 100,000 fishing related jobs tied to a $2 billion impact on our state’s economy,” said Governor Scott. “I love going fishing and I’m now getting my grandson involved.”

ICAST’s steady growth has prompted organizers to move the 2018 show from the West Building in the Orange County Convention Center complex to the 3 million square-foot North/South Building. The newer North/South Building represents a facility upgrade for the show, and will allow the companion ICAST On the Water demo program to be located directly outside the North Building for greater convenience, eliminating the need for shuttle busses.

ICAST returns to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando from July 10 to 13, 2018.

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