A 2012 Expo

Questions about a 2012 International Custom Rod Building Exposition are beginning to pour in. All I can say about it at this moment in time, however, is that I haven’t made a final decision.


Many don’t understand why I wouldn’t move ahead with a 2012 Expo considering the huge success that each and every Expo has been. And, with each Expo growing and being larger than the one preceding it, why not keep going?


Well, it’s not that simple. There is really only one person that is at a large personal financial risk – me! As successful as each Expo has been, most of that success falls on the plates of the exhibitors and attendees – I know going in that the best I can possibly hope for is to break even (and that’s okay – I never intended to make any money on the Expo). Custom rod building is a fairly small craft and getting folks to attend from all over the world, providing a quality venue and pulling everything off without a hitch requires a significant financial investment that could easily go south should any manner of unexpected weather, economy, etc., catastrophe befall us.


Many have mentioned that I could cut my investment by changing a few aspects of the Expo.  The RodMaker Reception comes out of my pocket, 100%. I rent the hall, buy and give away the food as well as any and all products donated for door prizes. It’s free for all RodMaker subscribers and as has been made painfully aware, as many as 1/3rd of those who attend aren’t subscribers – they manage to get tickets from others who are. It’s been suggested that I charge admission and/or change the free door prizes to an auction or raffle.


Others have suggested that I charge more for Expo admission. This year’s event only cost $8 ($5 for RodMaker subscribers) and parking is always free. But I don’t like the idea of a higher admission fee either. In fact, my goal has always been to offer free admission. No luck, yet.


Then there’s the matter of paying the seminar presenters. Few if any other rod building events bother to pay their seminar presenters. I feel it’s only fair. My only regret is that I can’t pay each presenter more – they add a great deal to the event and the least I can do is give them enough so they can buy themselves and their wives a really nice dinner.


And, of course, we could host the event in a place not nearly as nice and user friendly as the Showplace, which would easily save a 3rd of the total event cost in the process. But…


At the end of the day, an Expo without a free RodMaker Reception, quality seminar presenters, the largest and best line up of exhibitors, a low admission price and one of the Nation’s finest exhibit halls wouldn’t really be an Expo, would it? And I have zero interest in hosting just another rod building show.


I won’t do anything halfway. We’ll either say goodbye to the greatest rod building event on earth and know we went out on top, or we’ll do another Expo in the manner to which we’ve becomed accustomed. Stay tuned.


Tom Kirkman





  1. SAS on May 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Really hope you do another expo in 2012. Custom rod building would lose a lot without this premier event. I travel twenty hours one way and will do it again in 2012 if you do another.

  2. mark on May 31, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Never has been and never will be any other rod event like the EXPO. Hope you decide to continue it for many years to come.

  3. StanL on May 31, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Man I hate to hear you might not do this again. There is nothing out there to match or even compare with the “Expo.” Would hate to see it go away. I come all the way from MI and will do it every year you have it. Thanks for the memories but I hope you decide to hold it again.

  4. LPH on June 1, 2011 at 1:44 am

    The Expo is the greatest rod building show on earth.

  5. CHHurst on June 1, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    No Expo would leave a huge hole in the custom rod building craft. Would hate to see it end. Nothing else ever around like it that’s for sure.

  6. Ken Preston on June 7, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Loss of the Expo would have a huge impact on rod building. No where else can so many attendees meet and speak with the industry leaders in the design, manufacture and marketing of rod building components one-on-one. No where else is so much time spent organizing demos – all included in the price of admission. No where else do novice, intermediate and advanced rod builder have an opportunity to share ideas, discuss concepts and interact on this scale – No where, period

  7. Bill Eshelman on June 16, 2011 at 11:30 am


    I for one would hate to see this great event not return. I have learned so much from the times I went down and the new friends you can make is wonderful.

    I understand the bottom line is the time and headaches involved with this, I will not even mention the money factor.

    i hope it goes for a few more years.as it is a lot of work, I am sure there is much satisfaction also. To be able to sponsor an event which drws people from all over the world is no small job. I thought last years show was fantastic.

    Good luck with making your decision.