Archive for the ‘March 2012’ Category

15 Years

It was about this time 15 years ago when I published the very first issue of RodMaker. Several of the trade publications have made note of this fact and given us some nice comments recently. Here’s the latest:


Wood Turning Seminar

Renowned wood turner Morris Schlesinger will offer a day-long turning seminar on May 5th at the RodMaker Magazine offices and shop.

Topics covered will be specifically aimed at custom rod builders. Expect to learn not only basic wood turning and sharpening skills, but how to turn and shape reel seat inserts, handles and grips from a variety of materials including wood and cork. Special techniques for working with acrylics will be on tap as well.


The cost for the day long seminar is just $35 which includes lunch. In order to offer some level of individual instruction, class size will be limited.


If you wish to attend, please remit $35 payable to RodMaker Magazine and remit to:



PO Box 1322

High Point, NC 27261



RodMaker Magazine

2420 West English Road

High Point, NC 27262


Date and Time:

May 5th, 2012

9:30AM until 4PM

Photos and Numbers, and Math…

It’s funny – after the 2nd year the Expo was held, a competitor made the statement, “I heard the attendance was down this year.”  That statement has been repeated after every subsequent Expo since. What makes it funny is that it’s mathematically impossible. If your attendance falls every year, at some point you’ll reach zero. Of course, that sort of thing is over some people’s heads.

When you have nearly 300 people in twin seminar rooms at the same time, and the exhibit hall floor remains thick with people, you just have to smile at the silliness of such a statement.

If Expo attendance has fallen each and every year, you have to wonder just how huge the crowd must have been that 2nd year!

Pictures don’t lie – the photos taken at this year’s Expo show portions of our largest crowd ever – 3004 attendees, not including the exhibitor personnel.  What was true in 2004 remains true in 2012 – there is absolutely nothing else like the Expo for custom rod builders. The numbers prove that the Expo is the event that most custom builders choose to attend and there’s a good reason for that.

For more photos of the 2012 Expo crowd, visit:

Click on the “next photo” button just above the first photo that turns up and you’ll be taken on a 35 photo presentation showing a bit of the 2012 International Custom Rod Building Exposition. Enjoy.

Lesson of the Jitterbug

The advertising budget for the 2012 International Custom Rod Building Exposition was 30% greater than last year.  With the economy in most areas still dragging, I felt the need to do all I could afford to ensure we’d still have a great turnout. As it turns out, the additional advertising paid off – we set a new record attendance.


Overall sales were up, as you might imagine would be the case with more people attending. But the distribution of those sales was anything but equitable this year. As I talked with the vendors Saturday evening and on through the day Sunday, I found an interesting parallel between sales and product offerings – the ones who reported an increase had brought new and exciting product, while the ones who reported a decrease seemed to have the same stuff they bring year after year.


If you follow sales trends this won’t surprise you. In the general fishing tackle industry most companies feel the need to introduce at least one new, groundbreaking product per year in order to stay even, let alone get ahead. In fact, as I recall, it was this very thing that resulted in the creation of the famed Arbogast Jitterbug once upon a time.


Just prior to attending the 1938 or 1939 main sportsfishing industry show, company founder Fred Arbogast found that he had nothing new on tap. In order to at least have something to create a bit of excitement, he cut the end off a broomstick, rounded it over, and attached a curved, hammered lip cut from a coffee can to one end.  The plug hadn’t even been tested to any real extent prior to the show. But the rest is history.


In the sales business there is no sitting still. You’re either innovating or you’re falling behind. The customers will spend money. The only question is, what are you doing to ensure they’re going to spend it with you?


Tom Kirkman