For Strex co-founders Brynn and Antoine McLeod, IBEX wasn’t just where they won their first award; it was their first trade show. Strex Fasteners came out with its boat-cover snaps two months ago, and the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference in October was the company’s first trade show. When Strex received an Innovation Award in the covering category, it was a huge deal for the upstart enterprise. “Especially coming from IBEX, which everyone in the marine industry knows and respects, it was incredibly important, and it gave us respectability right out of the gate,” says company co-founder Antoine Mcleod. Mcleod and his wife, Brynn, started the company after the cover on their pontoon boat started to shrink, making it difficult to install. They came up with the Strex Fastener System, which has bungee-style extensions on traditional snaps that a do-it-yourselfer can install, or that boatbuilders, dealers or canvas shops can use. They’re sold in packs of 10 and 50. Brynn Mcleod’s father, an engineer, helped perfect the product design; her mother made the in-booth displays. It’s not just newcomers like the Mcleods who see an IBEX Innovation Award as a potential boo...