IBEX continues growth

The 15th annual International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference will feature more exhibitors and floor space than ever before.

The 2005 show, which will be held Oct. 19 through Oct. 21 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, will be the best IBEX yet, said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which co-produces the show.

IBEX’s exhibition spaces were sold out by mid-July, forcing some would-be exhibitors onto a waiting list.

“We have more companies and more space sales for IBEX 2005 than ever,” Dammrich said. “The show has grown over 50 percent since NMMA and Professional BoatBuilder teamed up to do the event jointly [in 2003].”

The show will use 400,000 square feet of floor space, which is 60,000 square feet more than IBEX 2004. The show has grown every year, but, so far, IBEX organizers have not added any square footage for IBEX 2006.

A portion of the additional space in 2005 will be used to house a new pavilion for marine education and training. The Marine Education and Training Pavilion will be home to organizations such as the Association of Marine Technicians and the Yacht Brokers Association of America, as well as educational institutions, such as the Marina Mechanics Institute and North Carolina Marine Training and Education Center.

With more square footage and hundreds of exhibitors, organizers expect attendance to be steady, if not greater, than it was last year, when attendance jumped by more than 1,000 from 2003. Early registration indicates attendance will be strong, but exact numbers will not be known until after the show. International attendance is expected to be greater than in years past.

For the past two years, IBEX had wrapped up only a day before the Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) International Boat Show began. This year, due to the availability of the convention center, there is a week between the shows. Only a handful of companies exhibit at both shows. For those, the greater tear-down and set-up time between the two is likely appreciated.

“It’s more convenient from a supplier standpoint,” said Mike Oathout, vice president of sales and marketing for Taylor Made Systems, which exhibits at both shows. “There are pluses and minuses, but we welcome the break.”

The date separation between IBEX and FLIBS may necessitate some company representatives traveling to Florida twice, but others may stay in the state over the break, Oathout said. For most exhibitors, the dates of the shows are a non-issue, he added.

“The break gives companies breathing room,” said Professional BoatBuilder’s Carl Cramer, who co-directs IBEX with Kathleen Clickett of NMMA. “It’s not easy to accommodate us. We don’t like bouncing around.”

Show organizers hope to set a permanent date for IBEX (sometime between early October and early November), whether at the Miami Beach Convention Center or elsewhere, Cramer said. Next year’s show will be two weeks later, Nov. 1 through Nov. 3 at the convention center.

IBEX 2005 will showcase a larger outdoor demonstration area, and pre-IBEX workshops, held on Tuesday, Oct. 18, are being re-introduced. IBEX will also offer a variety of seminars throughout the show, covering everything from composites to regulations. An update on the Discover Boating advertising campaign will be given at the all-industry breakfast.

IBEX is a must-attend show for Taylor Made, Oathout said.

“It’s a great testing ground for our new products,” he explained. “It’s the best opportunity to talk to customers in person and get feedback. IBEX is our showcase; one of our favorite shows during the year.”

“If you are building, designing or repairing boats, you can’t afford to miss this great event,” Dammrich said. “The growing exhibition and growing attendee base demonstrates that more clearly than anything else.”

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