A Tough Decision

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I have no desire to host another International Custom Rod Building Exposition. I didn’t intend to stay with it after the record setting 2010 event, but relented and did host the event again in 2011. And then that one proceeded to set new attendance and sales records. Seemed like a great time to go out – on top!


In fact every single Expo has surpassed the previous one. And even the very first one held back in 2004, small by recent standards, was larger and more successful than any other rod building event in history. So with so much success, why not continue?


The thing is, hosting an event on this scale, for what amounts to a relatively small craft and industry, and yet needing to pull in attendees from all over the world, entails a tremendous financial risk. To this day I’m the only person that has been willing to assume that sort of risk to do something on this scale for the craft and industry. Frankly, I have never and will never make dime on the Expo. My bottom line would be the same with or without it, and with it there is always the possibility of something happening that resulted in a loss of tens of thousands of dollars on my end. The safest bet for me is not to do it.


To that end, I waited a long time before making a decision this year.  I kept hoping that somebody, anybody, would step up to the plate with some event, any event, that would benefit the larger mainstream craft and industry. That way, I could slip out without feeling too bad about not hosting another Expo. It didn’t happen.


Last week I was talking with a dealer who mentioned that the Expo accounts for almost 30% of their yearly business. That followed with two more dealers who said roughly the same thing.  This past weekend I got a note from a well known builder who wanted to know if I had any idea how much fun the builders have at the Expo and how much it means to them to have something like this. I guess those things sort of escaped me while I was busy counting beans.


The bottom line is that nobody else is willing to do it. If I don’t do it, nobody else will. And as much as I really didn’t want to do it again, I feel almost compelled to do it in support of the craft and industry. Without it, custom rod building will most likely never again have an event on the same scale and quality as what the woodworkers, turners, knife makers, etc., do. So… okay, I’ll do it.  We’ll have a 2012 Expo. Details are on the official event website at www.rodexpo.com.


Tom Kirkman


P.S. Those that know me are fully aware that I don’t do anything halfway.  If I’m going to do another Expo, I’ll make it the best in our history. Thus, the 2012 International Custom Rod Building Exposition will be even bigger and better than the 2011 event. Count on it.



  1. DanG. on July 3, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Tom this is GREAT news!!! There has never been anything even close to being as big or as good as the Expo and the custom rod builders would be poorer if you ever stopped doing this for us. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have just made a few thousand people VERY happy!!!

  2. WTH on July 3, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Thanks Tom. Great news. This event means more to the rod builders than you will ever know.

  3. De Ente on July 3, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    The mark of how good something is can be judged by how much the competition hates it! Check this to understand how good the ICRBE really, really, really is. If they hate it this much you know its good!-

    Name: Kevin
    *Rodcrafter Journal Editor and Guild Board Member
    Vessel: Simms G4
    Location: FL
    Job:Rod Builder/magazine editor
    Posts: 195
    Images: 2
    HP… again. (ad nauseum)
    I’ve never been to High Point…. years ago, I wanted to go to High Point, but High Point just hasn’t been in my budget yet… I’ve just never set aside High Point money before, because High Point isn’t my dream event. Shame thou really – I bet all the best rods in this quadrant of the galaxy were in High Point, so had I attended the High Point rod show (the one in High Point), I could have seen them too.
    But I didn’t go to High Point. That must make me somewhat “High Point-deprived”, but I’m sure I’ll live without going to High Point. In fact, my rod building skills have flourished and thrived for years without ever having attended the show in High Point.
    I wonder if my dog is dreaming of High Point while he kicks his legs like he’s running as he sleeps?

    • Seawell on July 4, 2011 at 1:25 am

      Please don’t hold a stupid statement from one member against all the other members of the same group. That’s not fair. I can honestly say that dozens of members from our group appreciate and enjoy the learning, sharing and good times had at the Expo and we understand what a world class event it is. So don’t put us all in the same boat due to stupid statements from one person who just happens to be a member. His views don’t represent the rest of the members.

      • Tom on July 4, 2011 at 1:46 am

        Mr. Seawell:

        You’re correct on one point – his views do not necessarily represent the views of every member of your group. However, because he is acting in an official capacity for your organization, his statements do indeed represent the official standpoint of your organization.

        But this is beside the point, which is that the custom rod building craft and industry will again have an Expo in 2012.

        Tom Kirkman

        • Seawell on July 5, 2011 at 10:56 pm

          Thats a fair statement. I can tell you that most of the guys really appreciate all you do for the rod builders and enjoy the Expo very much. I look forward to attending again.

    • Mark Hanenlib on July 4, 2011 at 1:36 pm

      That comment does not surprise me. Those people are just jealous and upset that after all this time they were never able to pull off anything like the Expo. Sour grapes.

  4. Timothy on July 4, 2011 at 1:49 am

    Tom this is what I have been hoping for. Missed it last year due to another committment but will be there this year for sure. Making hotel reservations tomorrow.

  5. Ken and Sandra on July 4, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Made our reservations at the Best Western this morning.

  6. KenF. on July 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I’m stoked about this! Can’t wait for another great EXPO!

  7. Lou Auret on July 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks Tom.
    Look forward to attending it again.
    I am one of those 30% folks too, but in buying. I stock up there with about 30% of what i use for the rest of the year, guides, snake skin,epoxy etc.

  8. Paul D. on July 5, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    I had been waiting on an announcement. Was worried you might take it easy on yourself and not do another Expo. Glad to see that you will go at least once more. Thanks. You do a lot for the builders and the companies and it is appreciated.

  9. RichardK on July 6, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    The snide comment made by the person from the group above about “HP again (ad naseum)” should be understood the way it was meant. It was not a knock on the Expo itself, but instead a knock on every company and rod builder that comes to the Expo and profits or enjoys themselves there. That person and group is not attacking the Expo…… they are attacking the rod building industry and hobby itself. Every company that displays at the Expo and every rod builder that enjoys the Expo should remember that.

  10. Chris Cass on July 7, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Great news Tom.
    I’m based overseas and probably won’t ever make the Expo but it’s still of great interest to me and I look forward to the reports every year.

  11. Randy Hines on July 7, 2011 at 11:50 am

    When you didn’t make the official announcement back in April like you normally do I was worried you had already decided not to host the event again. Whew! You had me worried. Glad to hear it’s on again. Will be there with bells on.