More than 6,000 industry professionals attended IBEX 2016 to see the latest product innovations.
With concerns over Hurricane Matthew, IBEX 2016 attendance was up from last year’s Louisville event, but slipped from 2014, the last time it was held in Tampa.
About 4,700 attended in Louisville in 2015, while about 6,900 attended in Tampa in 2014.
Organizers noted that concern over Hurricane Matthew heading toward Florida kept many local marine industry companies from attending as they had to tend to both personal and professional hurricane preparations. The show also closed early on its final day.
Furniture grabs attention
IBEX 2016 featured a total of 556 exhibiting companies, covering 118,000 square feet of exhibit space. Some of the busiest exhibitors at this year’s show were those in the furniture and interiors categories.
Lippert Components recently entered the marine furniture segment with its purchase of Signature Seating in 2015 and the furniture business of Highwater Marine earlier this year.
At IBEX, it launched its Platinum Series replacement pontoon furniture, with a monochromatic design and multiple density foam packs.
The series features premium marine vinyl that resists mold, mildew and UV rays. The line also features aluminum and stainless steel hardware, large, dry storage areas under the seats, and durable polyethylene, rotationally molded frames that offer support, style and resist warping. The series includes 17 items – benches, corners, helm stations, chaises, cup holders and a variety of seats available in gray and beige.
Jumping into the aftermarket was a “natural progression,” said Michele Goldsmith, director of the marine segment for Lippert.
“We’re already doing all the cutting and sewing on the custom side … so to take it from the OEM side and also offer that on the aftermarket side made sense,” she said. “It was something we had done in a very small way before, but now we’ve actually come out with a modern, comfortable, durable program, and then come out with sales tools for a dealer,” such as display boards.
By focusing on just grays and beiges – the two most popular colors for its OEM customers – Lippert can keep the program simple, with just 34 SKUs.
“You can take a used pontoon and with new furniture and a new floor, you wouldn’t know when that pontoon was built,” Goldsmith said.
The increasing popularity of pontoons, especially in saltwater, also prompted the latest product innovation from Lexington Seating, the “Aluminum Evolution” seat.
The seating system utilizes a new extruded aluminum frame construction combined with stainless steel and aluminum components to produce reclining marine seating that has corrosion resistance that the company says exceeds available products while reducing weight by up to 30 percent.
“Up until now, all the reclining seats in the industry were based on an automotive model,” said Glenn Woodle, executive sales administrator at Lexington, noting that helm seats, with few changes, have been basically interchangeable with RV pilot seats.
“Tubular metal for the marine industry has been either powder-coated or e-coated to keep the rust from happening,” he said. “Even with all of that, if you put them in saltwater for a while, they tend to rust, especially when there’s any kind of a weld.”
Woodle estimates that about 10 percent of its seat sales this year will be with the aluminum system.
The new seats cost 15 to 20 percent more than a standard metal frame seat, but the increased longevity for saltwater applications make it more cost effective in the long run, Woodle said.
For more IBEX news, see the Industry News section starting on p. 8 and visit BoatingIndustry.com.
The furniture and interiors category wasn’t the only one to see innovation at this year’s IBEX. From audio to engines to accessories, dozens of new products made their debut at the 2016 IBEX show in Tampa. Here are some of the top products on the show floor this year.
Suzuki Marine introduced the DF150AP and DF175AP, two new models in its AP Series. These new 150- and 175-horsepower inline four cylinder outboards feature Suzuki Precision Control drive-by-wire throttle and shift, as well as Suzuki’s Selective Rotation gear case. The new DF150AP and DF175AP boast the largest displacement in their respective horsepower class, Suzuki says. Engine performance is enhanced by a 10.2:1 compression ratio that generates optimal power, contributing to an “impressive” hole-shot and mid-range acceleration. A newly developed Semi-Direct Air Intake System, boosts power by providing cooler airflow to each cylinder.
West Marine has changed the name of its professional customer business from Port Supply to West Marine Pro, the company announced at the show. Port Supply has been the professional brand of West Marine since 1978. The West Marine Pro brand symbolizes the company’s dynamic future as part of a strong community of West Marine professional and retail customers and better aligns the company’s B2B side with the brand recognition of its retail business, said West Marine CEO Matt Hyde.
Volvo Penta of the Americas showed off its new-generation mechanical controls for gasoline sterndrives. The new controls feature ergonomic levers and grips, tactile switch functions and sleek aesthetics. The new controls will be available for all OEMs in January. The mounting scheme and cable nesting will be nearly identical to the current controls, minimizing changeover costs to boat builders. Built-in features include power trim and tilt, neutral safety switch, neutral lock out, neutral warm up and lanyard-style safety stop switch. The controls come with a 20-ft. wiring harness and will be covered by the Volvo Penta two-year warranty if installed by the boat builder.
Garmin GPSMAP 276Cx
Garmin International Inc. released the GPSMAP 276Cx, an updated and upgraded edition of its 276C, originally launched in 2004. The 276Cx now features both GPS and GLONASS for better performance in heavy cover, optional external antenna support (sold separately), HotFix for faster satellite acquisition and wireless connectivity features. There’s a larger, sunlight-readable 5-inch display, as well as a barometric altimeter and 3-axis compass, which were not present in the 276C.
The GPSMAP 276Cx comes preloaded with a worldwide basemap with shaded relief, as well as a subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery to see real-life terrain views right on the device.
Dometic Sea Xchange + Spot Zero XZ Watermaker
Dometic Marine introduced its new Dometic Sea Xchange + Spot Zero XZ Watermaker. As a single, compact machine, the XZ combines the benefits of a Sea Xchange watermaker plus a Spot Zero freshwater reverse-osmosis purification system for ultra-pure water. The combined systems share one frame and controller. The XZ is the first and only fully automatic, integrated double-pass reverse-osmosis system that can purify every source of yacht water, including seawater, brackish water, lake water, river water or dockside water in a single machine.