The 2023 Marine Fabricators Conference that took place Jan. 26-28 in New Orleans, La., was bustling with energy, creativity and goodwill. With a total of 273 registrants, 68 first-time participants and 51 exhibitors, veterans and newcomers alike enjoyed the buzzing show floor, well-attended education sessions and special networking events that included a Fabricator Olympics and an over-the-top costume party.
First-time attendee Rosemary Taugher, co-owner of Two Roses Canvas in San Diego, Calif., says that after a decade in business she decided to join the MFA and attend the conference, and she wasn’t disappointed.
“Our business has gotten to the point where we need to downsize or go to the next level. That’s why I’m here. It’s so painful to learn the business by yourself, and I came hoping to smooth my learning curve and help decide what’s next for our business.”
Taugher says she found the education sessions extremely helpful because of the knowledgeable speakers and the give and take from other attendees. She especially appreciated “Intro to Digital: 2D vs. 3D” because it helped her understand the next steps for her business. “Being at the conference has given us more belief in ourselves. It’s helped us realize we can offer information to others and also receive it. I really value that.”
Veteran fabricator Mark Peterson, product designer at SugarHouse Industries in Salt Lake City, Utah, echoes many of Taugher’s sentiments. He remembers his first conferences more than a decade ago. “At first, I kept to myself, and then I realized there’s not only a lot I can benefit from here but there’s a chance others can benefit from what I know too.”
Peterson was part of the 2023 MFA Ambassador Committee, which welcomed new attendees at a variety of events. “Newcomers quickly see the MFA is unique in how willing everyone is to share knowledge,” says Peterson. “Newcomers from a few years ago are now actively participating and benefiting more from all they have to offer the MFA and from all the MFA has to offer them. It’s a win-win situation.”