IBEX 2018 hosts more exhibitors, attendees

By Tony Esposito
Wed Oct 10 2018, 12:50 PM

The 28th International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference in Tampa, Florida was a huge success

If ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’, then the 28th annual International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference (IBEX) was a success based on the increase in visitors and exhibitors alone.

The three-day show, which closed 4 October, saw a 23% increase in attendees over 2017, and a 14% increase in exhibiting companies – totalling 700, using 10% more exhibit space, according to a news release from the show’s promoters.

Fifty-five countries were represented at the show, a 10% increase from last year, with four international pavilions represented exhibitors from South Korea, Australia, France and Italy.

One of those, Frédéric Moutama of France, was attending his first IBEX show, exhibiting Sea-Tags, the first automatic man over board alarm system which is Smartphone compatible. Moutama told IBI that a show the size of IBEX is a major investment for a small company.

“It is very difficult to break into the US market,” Moutama said. “IBEX allows us access to the [entire boating industry]. It is easier for a small company like ours.”

IBEX also provides formal learning opportunities, with a day of seminars preceding the show as well as certification sessions throughout. The IBEX Education Conference saw a 27% increase in seminars sold.

The education component of IBEX is among the most important to industry veteran Charlie Haimes, a manufacturers’ representative with Haimes Coleman Group for the last 20 years.

“IBEX is very valuable to all categories of our business,” Haimes told IBI. “We have been promoting the show to our dealer customers for the last five years, encouraging them to attend. A better educated dealer is going to help the consumer,” he said. “If we can help the consumer enjoy boating more, we all win.”

As the previous two years of IBEX were threatened with impending hurricanes, most attendees were just happy to see good weather, despite the unseasonably hot temperatures.

In a statement, Anne Dunbar, IBEX show director, said: “People really took advantage of what IBEX does best – which is bring the newest elements of marine products and technology to our industry, in one place. The increase in visitors, exhibitors and exhibit space are all powerful indicators that the industry is as strong as ever.”

Next year’s IBEX show will again be held in Tampa, Florida from October 1-3.