The Marine Fabricators Association, a division of IFAI, hosted the Marine Fabricators Conference Jan. 14-16, 2016, in Clearwater Beach, Fla. The annual event hosts industry participants from throughout the United States. This was a record-setting year in attendance with 260 registrations, including 191 attendees and 69 exhibitors.
Exhibitors expressed extreme satisfaction with the conference’s 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 for 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 conference. “This is one of the best MFA conferences I’ve been at,” said Mike Johnson, owner of Mike’s Marine Canvas in Virginia Beach, Va. “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.”
The MFA introduced a webinar and video presentation on 3-D CAD presented by John Bland of Tecsew Ltd., Hampshire, England. It was the MFA’s first virtual seminar at the conference and it was well received by attendees. Project-management professional Tiffany Dalberg, president of Ready2Act, provided a framework for attendees to document their projects from beginning to end.
Other seminar highlights included demonstrations by Jim Cowan of Premier Performance Interiors, Sarasota, Fla., and Dawn Taylor of the Marine Canvas Training Institute in Palmetto, Fla.
Cowan demonstrated how to form PVC boards using a torch to bend the edges. He also provided insight to the pinking problem, including the cause of the problem and potential solutions. Taylor presented on bimini top and enclosure patterning, demonstrating the “dot system of patterning” and providing the audience with reasons why the system could save time.
The annual MFA Excellence Awards competition continued its popularity, with 110 projects entered. Participants competed for Awards of Excellence, Outstanding Achievement and Distinction. All entries were on display for participants to view throughout the show and 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 in Hampton, Va., emceed the Oscars-like evening. She presented a humorous monolog 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 contributions to the marine industry and for overseeing the conference’s annual Tools, Tips and Tricks session. An additional honor was given to Don with the announcement of the renaming the first-place winner of the Tools, Tips and Tricks to the Don Racine Award. Congratulations to winner Ed Skrzynski of Marco Canvas on Marco Island, Fla.
The 2017 Marine Fabricators Conference will take place in Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 19-21.