After a year’s hiatus, the 2022 Marine Fabricators Conference that took place Jan. 13-15 at Wild Dunes Resort on the Isle of Palms, S.C., came roaring back with laughter, learning and gratitude. With a total of 220 attendees, a record 90 first-time attendees and 46 exhibitors, conference-goers enjoyed a wide variety of education sessions, networking events, an over-the-top shop tour and a buzzing exhibitor show floor.
First-time attendee Brenda Smith, owner of Legacy Canvas Unlimited in Port Clinton, Ohio, says she attended this year to get ideas about improving efficiency at her shop; how to work smarter and not harder. “I found the discussions with other fabricators extremely helpful,” says Smith. “And the exhibitor showcase was really great. There was so much energy and a wealth of information. It’s so great to have it all in one spot. I would recommend this conference to anyone looking for collaboration and information.”
Another first-timer, Mike Boatman of Boatman Marine Canvas in Oklahoma City, Okla., who has been in marine fabricating for 28 years, says he thinks attending the MFA conference is likely to change the trajectory of growing his business. “My wife and I had a blast, we learned something at every session, and we met great, caring people willing to share their struggles, successes and ideas.”
In addition to the packed exhibitor show floor, the opening night costume party and the MFA Fabrication Awards Dinner, this year’s conference included a fascinating in-person shop tour of LaPorte’s Products Inc. in North Charleston, a virtual tour of three other shops, and education sessions about shade sails, tools, upholstery diamonds, a case study of a collaboration between fabricators and community college students, solar power, shop scheduling tips, digital patterning pros and cons and a showcase of enclosure window techniques.