Dealer Outlook

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To IBEX or not to IBEX?

The International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition and Conference ain’t what it used to be.

As a dealer, you’ve likely never thought about attending IBEX. That’s because for more than 20 years it was a show devoted solely to boatbuilding technologies and, accordingly, offered industry retailers very little.

But all that has changed in recent years — and for good reason. When it opens for its three-day run next month, it will boast more than 500 exhibiting companies showcasing products and services to attendees from 50 countries. And while the latest in boatbuilding technologies is still a central theme, IBEX now paints with a much broader brush and has become a first-class all-industry event with something for all segments.

Leading the change is an unmatched program that packs more than 90 educational sessions into 13 tracks in three days — business management sessions, product workshops and technical clinics, all featuring experts in their fields. For example, keynote speaker for the Oct. 2 industry breakfast will be Steve H. Murdock, former director of the U.S. Census Bureau. He’ll address how the changing demographics in America are going to impact all segments of the marine industry from builders to dealers.

The 13 educational tracks comprise a truly diverse range of industry-specific learning opportunities. Tracks include: Dealer Development; Marina & Boatyard Management; Service Department Excellence; Survey & Repair; Marine Electronics; and eight others. And, if you’ll pardon a crass plug, I will be teaming up with Boston-area dealer Larry Russo to present a seminar, moderated by Sounding Trade Only’s Reagan Haynes, on “Building Customer Loyalty.” It’s just one of the sessions included in the Dealer Development track. Hope you’ll join us for this one.

One thing is certain: IBEX is definitely not a one-size-fits-all event. Its diverse exhibit base and, especially, its extensive educational format allows attendees to tailor their own program. In fact, because there are so many offerings, you’ll likely find it hard to attend everything you might want to, so planning ahead is a must.

IBEX will be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. It’s produced by Professional Boatbuilder Magazine and NMMA. For a complete look at the seminar and workshop tracks and everything else about IBEX, go to


2 comments on “To IBEX or not to IBEX?

  1. Chad

    I’ve been wanting to attend for a few years, however the event format only permits an individual to attend a small portion of the events/lectures. I’m amazed that in this day and age, the presentations are not being professionally recorded for viewing at other times, or reviewing a lecture that was particularly helpful. Only with this capability could I justify the cost of travel and attendance.

    Please note that the capability above would be extremely helpful to companies that cannot afford to send all key employees. I would be willing to pay a fee to have access to such a collection, especially in years when scheduling conflicts prohibit my attendance.

    John Chadwick
    Coastal Marine Systems, LLC

  2. Barbara Jean Walsh

    Interesting comment, John. IBEX has always had a “no recording” policy to encourage speakers to share information that may be proprietary or sensitive. We also want our speakers to be able to respond to questions from the audience. Personallym I think that openness and free exchange is an important aspect IBEX seminars.

    At IBEX, we do not require formal presentation, and we do not publish proceedings, but on the other hand, we do often follow-up on IBEX seminars with articles in Professional BoatBuilder magazine and online events.

    In scheduling our seminars at IBEX, I do try to minimize conflict in each time slot, but I also have to deal with speaker schedules and other variables. This year, we will have 10 to 11 seminars in every time slot (three per day). Yes, that’s a lot to choose from, but they cover a wide range of topics from advanced engineering to construction processing to marine surveying to repair to systems to electronics to dealership issues to manufacturing concerns. Yes, indeed, tailor your own program.

    If you have any question about specific seminars, please feel free to contact me. Norm, see you there!

    Barbara Jean Walsh
    IBEX Seminar Manager

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