MAATS wraps up in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS – The 2008 installment of the Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show wraps up today in Las Vegas with organizers reporting a slight decrease in the number of wholesale buyers in attendance, although they believe the same companies that usually attend the event were still represented.

As of end of day Thursday, MAATS was just under last year’s attendance numbers.

There were 76 first-time companies that exhibited and were 293 total exhibitors, situated in a little less floor space because of co-locating with the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades.

This year’s show marked the fourth time MAATS has co-located with ICAST, but it was the first time there was a joint show and joint promotion. Exhibitors for both shows were on the same floor with dividers between shows and hallways leading back and forth.

The products were a focus at the show this year, with exhibitors taking full advantage of the Innovation Awards, organizers said.

“Newer companies are taking better advantage of the product opportunities,” said Kathleen Clickett MAATS show manager

There was a 22-percent increase in Innovation Award entries and 63-percent increase in the products submitted for the “New Products” guide, organizers reported.

“This really is the show where new products are introduced,” NMMA President Thom Dammrich said.

Dammrich suggested that companies are focused more than ever on innovation as the industry responds to the current economic climate.

New this year to the show, was the decision by the MAATS committee to allow dealers to attend. And, although organizers had a small window of time to promote to them, at least 150 dealers pre-registered.

By inviting dealers, organizers hope to increase product demand among dealers and generate pull-thru for distributors. They would like dealers to come see the products and order thru distributors.

Organizers also believe they will be able to attract many more dealers next year because they will have additional time to promote the event and it will be held in Orlando.

The 2009 MAATS will be held in Orlando, Fla. July 15-17, at the Orange County Convention Center. It will once again be held in conjunction with ICAST and S.T.E.P.

Innovation Awards
Six marine aftermarket products were honored Thursday night for innovative achievement by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Boating Writers International.

The Innovation Awards, organized by NMMA and judged by BWI, recognize those products that best meet the following criteria: Innovative distinction from other products currently being manufactured; benefit to the marine industry and/or consumer; practicality; cost-effectiveness; and availability to the consumer within 60 days of the show’s conclusion.

A total of 60 new products were entered in eight categories for this years’ MAATS awards program.

“Judges take their jobs evaluating Innovation Award entries very seriously, spending hours reviewing and referencing submitted materials and cross-checking facts,” says Jan Mundy, Innovation Awards chair and editor of DIY Boat Owner magazine. “The hands-on process at the show is equally challenging, and after products are critiqued on the exhibit floor judges begin deliberating at great lengths to select the winning entries. The variety of highly competitive products made for some stiff competition. This years’ selection process was the most intense I’ve seen since I first began participating in the awards program.”

Additional BWI members nominated to the judging panel this year include: Charles Doane, editor-at-large, Sail; Ben Ellison, electronics editor of Power & Motoryacht and author of the electronics blog; Alan Jones, executive editor, Boating World; Zuzana Prochazka, staff writer, Latitudes & Attitudes; Randy Vance, editor-in-chief, Boating Life; and Alan Wendt, editor, Marine CEO.

The winners are
In the Aftermarket Electronics category, the award went to the Broadband Sounder 1 from Lowrance-Navico. The product was hailed for unparalleled sensitivity and definition combined with software and high-speed signal processing to distinguish fish targets from the bottom and to depths never before achieved.

“This device brings high performance fish finding to smaller boats and smaller wallets,” said Ellison.

An Honorable Mention was presented in this category to a second Lowrance innovation: The LVR-880 fixed radio – the first dual VHF and FM radio that also integrates NMEA 2000 with DSC for distress and buddy-tracking.

In the Boat Care/Coating/Chemicals and Maintenance Tools category, the award went to Re-Structure Marine Polish from Mark Silvey Marine Services. This non-petroleum, water-based penetrating polish uses nanotechnology to clean and protect gelcoat, metal, paint, plastic, vinyl and other hard surfaces.

“Easily hand applied without buffing, this product will change the way boaters maintain their boats,” said Mundy.

The Wrino Boat Mooring System from Anzus Imports was this years’ winner in the Deck Equipment category. It features a unique combination of tools that resolve a multitude of mooring problems.

“Every inch is carefully engineered to facilitate docking—whether you are securing a dock line to a cleat, lassoing a piling or grabbing a mooring buoy,” said Wendt.

An Honorable Mention was given to Eclipse Marine Products for its T-Top Extender. Easy to install on most hardtops or T-tops, it doubles the shade area, offering sun protection to passengers seated in the bow or stern.

The winner in the Interior Parts category was the Dry Boat from Delta T Systems. This revolutionary DC powered dehumidifer system uses Peltier thermo-electric cooling technology. One-third the size of a conventional unit, it is designed to be portable or permanently mounted and discharge water drains into a sink, the bilge or overboard.

“This device employs technology that promises to revolutionize interior climate control in boats,” said Doane.

An Honorable Mention went to the Comfort-Mate toilet from Thetford Marine. Loaded with home-like performance and styling and featuring a detached pump unit that allows mounting in a remote location, this product raises the seat on entry-level marine toilets.

The winner of the Safety Products category was the Aqualuma Brakelight System. This LED light system automatically signals when the operator releases the throttle for at least one-half second and a manually activated SOS mode lets users signal for assistance.

“This light addresses one of the largest causes of collisions between PWCs and helps riders prevent them,” said Vance.

“It’s very likely that we’ll see it as standard equipment on many boats, not just PWCs, in the future,” echoed Jones.

The GlobalFix iPRO 406 EPIRB from ACR received an Honorable Mention in the category. Compact and lightweight, a digital display provides users with a readout of self-test results to give boaters peace of mind. If activated, the EPIRB displays GPS coordinates, remaining battery power and deployment tips.

Cequent Performance was the winner in the Trailer Parts & Accessories category with the ramped-up F2 2000. This full-featured winch delivers improvements in both form and function including: Chafe-free operation; a fully adjustable handle that’s easily repositioned for left- or right-handed operation; quick installation via carriage bolts without removing the strap; and a pull-and-turn knob to engage and release the gears.

“Cequent rethought every aspect of the trailer winch and improved it significantly,” said Prochazka.

An Honorable Mention in this category was given to The Big Stick from How Do We Do It. This patented trailer theft deterrent consists of two components: A hub unit that mounts over the wheel lug nuts and a heavy duty “stick” that slides over the hub and locks in place.

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