The Marine Fabricators Conference took place Jan. 14-16, 2016, in Clearwater, Fla.
The annual event attracts the marine fabricators industry throughout the United States. This was a record setting year in attendance with a total registration number of 260. Of the 260 registered 191 were attendees and 69 were exhibitors.
Exhibitors were extremely happy with the show turnout. “It was an excellent show and we had good traffic in our booth,” said Mike Gatti, general manager of Weblon/Herculite Products. “We were very pleased to meet with first-time attendees.”
“This year’s show was one of the best for us as an exhibitor,” said Jonathan Chakales, national sales manager of Marlen Textiles. “We had good, steady traffic that is proving to be promising business and well worth the investment for us.”
Attendees were equally happy with the quality of the show. “This is one of the best MFA conferences I’ve been at,” said Mike Johnson, owner of Mike’s Marine Canvas. “I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of new people and connecting with long-time friends in the industry. The seminars were streamlined and the awards dinner was great. I’m looking forward to next year.”
MFA introduced a live-streaming and video presentation on 3D CAD Design that was presented by John Bland of Tecsew, England. This was MFA’s first attempt at a virtual seminar at the conference and it was well received by attendees. Project management professional Tiffany Dahlberg, Ready2Act, provided a framework for attendees to document their projects from beginning to end.
Other seminar highlights included demonstrations by both Jim Cowan and Dawn Taylor.
Jim Cowan of Premier Performance Interiors demonstrated how to do PVC board forming during his presentation using a torch to bend the edges. He also provided insight to the pinking problem including the cause of the problem and potential solutions.
Dawn Taylor of Marine Canvas Training Institute presented on bimini top and enclosure patterning. She demonstrated the “dot system of patterning” during the seminar and provided the audience with reasons why the system could save time.
The annual Fabrication Excellence competition continued its popularity, with 110 projects entered. Participants competed to win the Award of Excellence, Outstanding Achievement and the Award of Distinction. All project entries were on display for participants to view throughout the show and the winners were announced at the awards dinner. Congratulations to all of the winners.
The new format of the Awards Dinner was equally exciting. Charlene Clark of Signature CanvasMakers emceed the Oscar-like evening. Clark presented a humorous monologue that included images of costumes worn by attendees in previous years, referring to the individuals as the “Ghosts of Costume’s Past.” During the evening, there was a special tribute to IFAI member and friend Don Racine, who passed away last year. Don was honored for his contribution to the marine industry and the annual Tools, Tips and Tricks session. Additional honor was given to Don with the announcement of the renaming of the first place winner of the Tools, Tips and Tricks, to the Don Racine Award. MFA gives a special shout out to the winner Ed Skrzynski of Marco Canvas.
Next year, the Marine Fabricators Conference will take place in Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 19-21, 2017.