A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

A lone, unpleasant voice at IBEX

Having walked the floor at IBEX in Miami, I met many professional exhibitors who took the time to talk with me and explain the ins and outs of their products. I learned a lot and found many story ideas for Soundings Trade Only. I admired and appreciated everyone’s hard work, dedication and passion.

I did experience, though, one wrinkle.
As I walked the floor I saw a booth with counter cards that proudly displayed Soundings Trade Only. Naturally, I stopped and smiled. There was no one at that booth but a neighboring exhibitor said a few words to me.

He said, “I can’t talk about those products but I can talk about batteries.” OK, I thought, I’ll learn more. That’s why I was at the show.

“So tell me about these batteries,” I politely said.

He looked at me and said, “I’d love to charge your battery, darlin’.”

That’s not what I expected to hear.

As I walked away from him, I said, “That’s not the way to attract a female to this industry, sir.”
Can you imagine if I was a buyer? No way would I buy a product from him.

I suggest he clean up his act, and I’m grateful that he represented the lone, ignorant voice at a show that was embraced by professionals.
There’s been some discussion about this industry and its efforts to encourage women and minorities to buy boats. Let’s make sure we treat these groups with the trust and respect they deserve.

Your thoughts?

Lois Caliri
Soundings Trade Only


13 comments on “A lone, unpleasant voice at IBEX

  1. Larry Tague

    As a dealer that hires & promotes women in our organization I hear about this sort of stuff more than I would like.
    I do think that this man was in the minority but there are ignorant people every where you go, not just in our industry.

  2. Rick Layzell

    What a shame that we still have a few remaining male chauvanists left in our business. My wife also works in our industry and she too has encountered situations such as yours. Fortunately she has encountered far more situations where industry peers (both male and female) have respected her for her business skills, her industry experience and the professionalism she puts into everything she manages.

    We will all be better off when those who think this type of nonsense is acceptable either leave our industry or are simply forced out.

    Rick Layzell
    National Sales Manager
    Yamaha Motor Canada Ltd

  3. Bill Lehr

    I’m not surprised!
    Unfortunetly, our industry has its share of rednecks.
    You can watch them on the waterways as they go by moored boats, docks and marinas at full throttle.
    I guess it’s their way of showing their masculinity.

  4. Gary Briggs

    Thanks for taking time to share your frustrating experience at IBEX. And, thanks for your professional approach to such nonsense.

    Women have deservedly made great progress in the marine industry in the last 20 years, yet these incidences are always a disappointing setback.

    2007 is the 20th anniversary of the Darlene Briggs Marine Woman of the Year Award. We want to believe that progress continues to be made in recognizing professionalism among women, within their own organizations.

    There now are untold numbers of dynamic women rising to the top of their organizations, as they well deserve to. It is great to see it happen.

    Gary E Briggs

  5. Chris Cornell

    As a co-founder of both Professional BoatBuilder and IBEX, I can assure you that this kind of behavior would not have been tolerated. I urge you to file a formal complaint with my former colleagues and current show organizers Carl Cramer and Barbara Walsh, who abhor sexist remarks just as you do. I suspect that the rude, thoughtless exhibitor you encountered will receive a strong warning, at the very least. IBEX needs such idiots like a hole in the head.

  6. Mike Walker

    Sorry to have heard about that experience. I wouldn’t have been surprised to have heard you respond with a remark that he didn’t look like a pink bunny beating a drum and doubt if he could charge anything much more than his pacemaker. Sorry you have such a negative remark in another wise positive event.

  7. Bill Haimes

    Fortunately most in our industry are smarter than this fellow. He has been learning the wrong lessons. I find the same problem dealing with some customers and have to bite my tongue too often. My assistant who works both the office and the repair shop is as competent as I to repair, specify and sell any marine compass on the market today, is often asked questions by customers, who then ask me the very same question should I return to the shop or booth while they are there.

    Usually the guy is about 5′ 6″ and balding. I suspect he has a trophy wife at home and uses his boat to make up for other inadequacies.

    Lead by example.

    Bill Haimes

  8. Susan Shingledecker


    Sorry to hear of your expereince. Sadly you aren’t alone, I too had a similar experience with an exhibitor. I played tough and shrugged it off. Not only was this individual offensive to women who visited the booth, but also to his own female employees. Thanks for writing about it. Lets hope this becomes more rare in the future. All in all though IBEX was great and I learned a lot from the many exhibitors who took the time to educate me about their products.

  9. Ken Hilderbrandt JR

    As a male reading your post, I am embarrassed. It is obvious to me that someone of this intelligence must answer to somebody and agree with Chris Cornell that this should be reported to the event organizers. I would hate to think that my wife and or daughter might me subject to sexist remarks as you encountered at any type of boating event, wholesale or retail.

    Ken Hilderbrandt JR

    BoatRenting.com Inc.

  10. Tobin O'Flannery

    Also not surprised, but I wonder, when it is appropriate to name names? Are guys like these right in assuming that no one will throw them in the spotlight?

  11. David

    Crude jerk, I’ll give you that. But I’m not convinced that the comments of one slacker, hired to do a stint selling batteries at an industry trade show (wholesale only) has to do with keeping woman and or other minorities from buying a retail boat somewhere. Battery people really are not of a Marine Industry mind-set. Most battery people are of an automotive mind-set and the Marine Industry is an after thought market for them. Maybe his crude remarks will keep woman and other minorities from buying cars…..

  12. warren lally

    I am glad it was not my wife that got that comment I would be very dis-appointed .
    The one point I would like to make is we still have a long way to go in the industry . I remember the Interlux paint stickers and t-shirts “official bottom inspector” not really politically correct anymore but moving on .
    When was the last time you saw a major manufacturers advertisement show a WOMAN running a boat . I am 100 percent American male however I don`t need to see a girl in a bikini sprawled out on the bow or hugging the captain to get me to buy the boat. We don`t have pictures of men in thongs trying to pull up an anchor do we? Lets get rid of the stereotypes in advertising then perhaps we can address the poeple in the industry who don`t know how to treat men or women with respect !!

  13. Chip

    Sorry you took offense to the comment he made. It was unappropriate, but not so blatant as to be reported. I overheard several vulgar conversations on the floor, that I am sure would not settle well with anyone. But it is not worth complaining about, and I venture to say did not really ruin an otherwise great show for you.

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