Boating Industry

November 2016

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Page 35 of 51 36 | Boating Industry | November 2016 IBEX 2016: FURNITURE, INTERIORS LEAD INNOVATIONS MORE THAN 6,000 industry professionals attended IBEX 2016 to see the latest product innovations. With concerns over Hurricane Matthew, IBEX 2016 attendance was up from last year's Louis- ville event, but slipped from 2014, the last time it was held in Tampa. About 4,700 attended in Louisville in 2015, while about 6,900 attended in Tampa in 2014. Organizers noted that concern over Hurricane Matthew heading toward Florida kept many local marine industry companies from attending as they had to tend to both personal and professional hurricane preparations. The show also closed early on its fi nal day. Furniture grabs attention IBEX 2016 featured a total of 556 exhibiting companies, covering 118,000 square feet of ex- hibit space. Some of the busiest exhibitors at this year's show were those in the furniture and interiors categories. Lippert Components recently entered the marine furniture segment with its purchase of Signa- ture Seating in 2015 and the furniture business of Highwater Marine earlier this year. At IBEX, it launched its Platinum Series replacement pontoon furniture, with a monochromatic design and multiple density foam packs. The series features premium marine vinyl that resists mold, mildew and UV rays. The line also features aluminum and stainless steel hardware, large, dry storage areas under the seats, and durable polyethylene, rotationally molded frames that offer support, style and resist warping. The series includes 17 items – benches, corners, helm stations, chaises, cup holders and a variety of seats avail- able in gray and beige. Jumping into the aftermarket was a "natural progression," said Michele Goldsmith, director of the marine segment for Lippert. "We're already doing all the cutting and sewing on the custom side … so to take it from the OEM side and also offer that on the aftermarket side made sense," she said. "It was something we had done in a very small way before, but now we've actually come out with a modern, comfortable, durable program, and then come out with sales tools for a dealer," such as display boards. By focusing on just grays and beiges – the two most popular colors for its OEM custom- ers – Lippert can keep the program simple, with just 34 SKUs. "You can take a used pontoon and with new furniture and a new fl oor, you wouldn't know when that pontoon was built," Gold- smith said. The increasing popularity of pontoons, es- pecially in saltwater, also prompted the latest product innovation from Lexington Seating, the "Aluminum Evolution" seat. The seating system utilizes a new extruded aluminum frame construction combined with stainless steel and aluminum components to produce reclining marine seating that has corrosion resistance that the company says exceeds available products while reducing weight by up to 30 percent. "Up until now, all the reclining seats in the industry were based on an automotive model," said Glenn Woodle, executive sales administrator at Lexington, noting that helm seats, with few changes, have been basically interchangeable with RV pilot seats. "Tubular metal for the marine industry has been either powder-coated or e-coated to keep the rust from happening," he said. "Even with all of that, if you put them in saltwater for a while, they tend to rust, especially when there's any kind of a weld." Woodle estimates that about 10 percent of its seat sales this year will be with the alu- minum system. The new seats cost 15 to 20 percent more than a standard metal frame seat, but the in- creased longevity for saltwater applications make it more cost effective in the long run, Woodle said. For more IBEX news, see the Industry News sec- tion starting on p. 8 and visit Lexington Seating "Aluminum Evolution" seat BY JONATHAN SWEET

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