Like many at the International Boatbuilders Exhibition & Conference (IBEX) in Tampa, Fla., Steve Schoderer is optimistic about the future of the nation’s marine industry.
“We had some rough years,” said Schoderer of Mercury Marine, one the country’s leading outboard motor manufacturers. “But things are looking up. One reason — technology.”
According to a report by the Tampa Bay Times, this year’s IBEX has 573 vendors, including 142 that did not display products in 2013, as well as 80 companies that are new to the show.
“This is not a consumer boat show,” said Ann Dunbar, the IBEX director. “This is where the engineers and boat builders come to find out what’s new to put in next year’s boats.”
She added, “We think the industry has really turned a corner,” Dunbar said. “The manufacturers are feeling confident. People want to buy boats.”
When it comes to boat sales and participation, Florida leads the nation. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the state ranks No. 1 in total sales of new powerboats, engines, trailers and accessories, up 16%t from 2012, generating $1.9 billion in 2013.
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