Having taken place at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville from October 2 to 4, the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference (IBEX) presented initial attendance figures for this popular boating-industry’s yearly trade show as well as networking event yesterday.
Show Director Anne Dunbar said that total verified attendance for IBEX 2012 was 4,701, up about one percent over 2011. “IBEX attracts a highly qualified audience,” Dunbar said. “Although the industry has contracted and consolidated in the last five years, the buyers and engineers who attended represent nearly 75 percent of the industry production and buying power for the marine products and technology at IBEX. As usual, IBEX delivered, with exhibitors unveiling hundreds of new products that will enhance the boating experience.”
Marine professionals attending IBEX came from 31 countries and 46 states, with highest attendance from Florida, Tennessee, Michigan and Indiana.
“Feedback from exhibitors and attendees was very positive and overall there seemed to be a mood of optimism,” said Dunbar. “Many long-time exhibitors reported that business activity at this year’s IBEX was the best in several years, while first-time exhibitors said the show delivered beyond what they expected.”
Sample quotes from the exhibit hall included:
- “I come to IBEX to be inspired.” Dean Clemente, Marketing Manager, Ferro Industries
- “It’s been a fantastic show. IBEX is a great chance to see everybody in the industry. It’s a great chance to show off the new products.” Sheila Roberts, Marketing Executive, Whale Water Systems
- “The show went very, very well for us. We had good consistent traffic, and we met with all the key personnel we needed to meet with. This show has always been the best for the industry and continues to be. We will be back next year.” Keith Selby, OEM Specialty Sales, Kenwood USA
- “It’s been a great show for us. There’s no question about that. It’s been active and engaging, and we’ve made a ton of contacts that we were looking forward to making in the industry.” Kevin Hutchinson, Founder and CEO, My-Villages
- “The traffic and the contacts we’ve made have been good.” John Kingma, Director of Outboard and Sterndrive Products, Michigan Wheel Marine
- “IBEX was terrific – a wonderful turnout. Looking forward to next year.” Rosemarie Fiori, President, Florida Marine Tanks
The tone for IBEX 2012 was set by the “State of the Industry” report by Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) at the All-Industry Breakfast Oct. 2, attended by approximately 300 marine professionals. Dammrich noted that boat sales figures are continuing to rise in most segments. “The level of activity at IBEX is further evidence that the boating industry is starting to turn the corner after five years of decline,” he said.
The Keynote Address was delivered by Dr. Steve M. Murdock, former director of the U.S. Census. He spoke on how demographic trends in the U.S. population will affect the boating industry, noting the high growth rates in Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans nationwide, represent an enormous untapped market for boat sales. He cited statistics showing that if the boating industry can increase the percentage of Hispanic boat buyers to the same level as non-Hispanic whites, the total addressable market for boats will almost double in size.
Other highlights of IBEX 2012 included:
- Exhibit Hall – 100,000 square feet
- Exhibiting Companies – 520 from 12 countries
- New Exhibitors for 2012 – 50
- Number of Seminars – 92 technical and business training sessions in 13 tracks
- Number of Speakers – 120 leading marine industry experts
- Number of Free Learning Workshops Offered – 16
- First-ever Social Media Lounge
- Compliance & Standards Pavilion Coffee
- NMEA ConnectFest
- Evaporative Emissions & Green Marine Routes
- IBEX Innovation Awards
- First-ever Exhibitor Video Awards
Networking activities like the Opening Night Welcome Back to Louisville Fourth Street Live Party and the IBEX Bourbon Experience Networking Party.
The dates for next year’s IBEX are Sept. 17-19, 2013, Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville, Ky.