Fooling People… Nine Times!

Abraham Lincoln has been credited as saying, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”


Without expecting the same notoriety, I’ll add my own take on the theme with, “You might fool people once or twice, but you won’t fool them nine times.”  I’m speaking of the International Custom Rod Building Exposition and the repeat exhibitors and attendees it attracts each year. Thousands of rod builders have attended the event over these past nine years. Dozens and dozens of manufacturers and exhibitors have done the same. Why do they keep coming back? Have they been fooled or do they know firsthand just how good the Expo really is?


The fact is that each and every Expo has been larger than the one preceding it. This means more companies and more rod builders continue to attend the Expo each and every year. And, once they attend for the first time, they tend to come back… over and over and over again.


If the Expo wasn’t absolutely everything it’s been made out to be, why would all these companies and all these rod builders continue to come back, year after year after year?  One can speculate, but there’s really only two possibilities – either the Expo really is all it’s said to be, or all these companies and rod builders have been fooled… nine times!


Tom Kirkman




  1. Paul Ipsom on July 9, 2011 at 2:12 am

    To be honest, I thought it was mostly hype. I heard a lot of stuff that I wasn’t buying. But after attending in 2009 I finally understood why builders talk about it like they do. It really is a huge and well done event and more than I could have ever imagined. I can only go every other year so may not make 2012 but will attend in 2013 if you do it again. It’s just a hell of a good time.

  2. Halibut12 on July 9, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    I had heard all the “hype” about the Expo for several years before I ever attended. I thought it would be good but no way it could live up to the hype. But by the end of the first day I would say it was even better than the hype I had heard about it. The 2010 show will be my third and I will keep coming back every you have it as long as my health holds out.

  3. Steve Broadwell on July 9, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Well, I’ve been to six (think) of the Expos. I can’t really imagine building rods seriously and not going to this. Anyone who says this is not the biggest, and best, rodbuilding event clearly has some personal axe to grind.

    • Rick Wilshire on July 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm

      I’m with Steve on this——-anybody that doesn’t believe that the Expo isn’t the largest and greatest rod building event in history has either never attended it or has some sort of personal vendetta going on. I know it might be hard to believe for those who have never attended, but the Expo is light years ahead of anything else ever done for the custom rod builders. Don’t believe it?——-attend just one time and see for yourself!

    • HPV on July 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm

      Personal axe to grind??? No kidding. This woman was glowing in her reviews for the Expo after she got back from displaying there. Suddenly she decided it isn’t any good. A simple search shows this for what it really is, a personal axe to grind.,330024,330049

  4. Mark Pearsall on July 10, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    The expo is the real deal. My wife and I travel 2500 miles one way for it each year. Costs us about $2400 for plane tickets, meals, hotel rooms and all that. But its well worth every penny. I spend about a grand on blanks and components while there. Where else is it possible to learn this much and see this much all in one place?

  5. Ken Preston on July 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    The Expo has come a LONG way from the single aisle at the Charlotte fly fishing show!

  6. DanielS on July 12, 2011 at 12:33 am

    The Expo is the real deal. Proved itself the greatest rod building show on earth a long, long, long time ago.

  7. Sammy Mickel on July 12, 2011 at 2:19 am

    I have been fortunate enough to have been a vendor at ALL nine events. There is no doubt it has grown every year. The location is one the best I’ve had the opportunity to be at and the floor plan is adjusted to the customer.The last EXPO for instance, the isles were made wider and at times they were still packed where you couldn’t get thru.
    Those people with an axe to grind are actually working against the vendors and eventually the customers and fellow rod builders by spreading their trash. Thankfully they have been proven wrong year after year and I believe many of my fellow vendors are taking notice and closing off doors to these people.

    • B&W on July 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm

      You hit the nail on the head. They are not really attacking Tom or his Expo, they are attacking the COMPANIES that display at the Expo. They figure if they can hurt the Expo they will be hurting each and every company that is trying to sell product there.They cannot pull off an event of their own so they are trying to harm the competition by harming the competitions vendors.

  8. Jim Mooney on July 14, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Anyone that has actually been to an Expo knows its the best thing ever done for custom rod builders. These few people who always want to criticize everything Tom does for the craft and industry need to ask themselves what THEY are willing to do for us. When are THEY going to put on a big event for the craft? When are they going to start doing anything for the benefit of custom rod builders? Of course we all know the answer to that. They will never do anything for anybody. They just want to criticize what others are doing without offering anything similar themselves. Criticism without a valid alternative is just worthless noise.

  9. Harvey2 on July 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    That club has a story going around about hotel rooms being broken into and discussions with the hotel detective and custom rods being stolen. Sounds like a wild time!!

  10. Tom on July 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    There is not single hotel/motel here in High Point that employs a hotel detective of any sort. So you can write that one off as pure myth. As far as custom rods being stolen, I would think someone would have reported that to me. No one ever has.

    In 9 years only one vendor parcel has gone missing. In 2010 we had a vendor leave a long tube containing blanks for UPS pickup. It never arrived at the vendor’s location. Whether it was lost, damaged or stolen is not known. Considering the hundreds and hundreds of parcels handled in and out at the Expo, we have a darn good record on this sort of thing. Obviously, I can’t control what UPS, FedX, DHL nor any other shipper does with the parcels they pick up.

    The only wild time going on is in someone’s imagination. As this blog entry mentioned, there is a reason that all these folks continue to come back, year after year after year.

  11. Harvey2 on July 18, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    So you saying outright that custom rod builders did NOT have any custom rods stolen there??

  12. Tom on July 18, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Again, if any builders have had custom rods stolen at the Expo, why haven’t they mentioned it to me or spoken out publicly? It simply hasn’t happened. It’s an unfounded rumor.

    So too, is the stuff about a break in at a hotel room at one of the hotels. For a break in or burglary to have occurred, surely a door would have had to been breached or broken, a lock broken or damaged, or something stolen. None of the above happened. There was no break in. Somebody might have forgotten to lock their own room door, but that only constitutes absent mindedness, not a break in nor burglary.

  13. Harvey2 on September 6, 2011 at 1:41 am

    They are still carrying on about it. I have to say that with no door busted or lock broken and nothing stolen the thing about a break in taking place becomes pretty lame. To BREAK IN something would have to be broken or stolen.

  14. StephenMarcy on September 6, 2011 at 2:55 am

    Hey wait a minute…….. No forced entry, nothing ransacked, nothing stolen, nothing missing………the same thing happened to me! Every night I was there!

  15. Tom on September 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    It appears that attempted insurance fraud is taking place. The only incident that was mentioned to me turned out to be a non-incident. An individual reported that she believed that someone had entered her hotel room, although there was no sign of entry, forced or otherwise, and nothing in the room was disturbed nor missing. In other words, nothing happened.

    This morning the present hotel manager stated the manager on duty that evening spent twenty minutes with the individual at that time ascertaining that nothing had been taken. It appeared that the door had simply been left ajar. No report was filed, nor were the police called because there was no sign of a break-in nor did the individual report anything stolen. There was nothing to file a report about.

    Now, a full year and a half after this non-incident, it appears that this individual has filed a claim with her home owners insurance policy attempting to collect for jewelry she claims was stolen from her room that night. Her insurance company has asked for the hotel incident report and/or a police report detailing the stolen items. No such report exists because there was no evidence of a break-in and nothing was reported stolen.

    Corrine Hollingsworth from Best Western provided these details and can corroborate this account.

    It’s not hard to figure out what’s going on here. I have nothing to do with the hotels in High Point, but I do hope their insurance folks will put their fraud people on it.

  16. Sammy Mickel on September 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    About what I thought. It had nothing to do with Tom or his Expo. Just a dishonest person trying to run a scam on their insurance company.

  17. Tom on September 6, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    This whole thing is beyond silly. No custom rod builder has ever come forward and stated that he/she had a rod stolen at the Expo. Who are these mystery people that had rods stolen at an Expo? Why don’t they come forward? It’s just an unfounded rumor.

    As far as a hotel room break in, if it concerns the non-incident at the Best Western, I have the hotel statement about that and am willing to supply it to anyone that would like to email me directly at [email protected]. It’s just a matter of someone trying to hit up their homeowner’s insurance for a fabricated loss.

    Beyond that, Expo attendees come in from all over the world and stay at any of about a dozen different hotels in and around the city. I have no control over any of them but have never had anyone report that their hotel room was broken into or that they had anything stolen. It’s never happened.

  18. MartinW on September 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    My wife and I stayed at the Best Western for three nights during the last Expo. It was fine. We know what we carry into hotels and it would not be hard to determine if anything got lost or was taken from our room in about five minutes. For someone to leave a door open and report that nothing was bothered or taken at that time, and then turn around a year and a half later and file a claim against their home owner’s policy for a fake loss is what it is— fraud.

  19. David Morse on September 9, 2011 at 1:39 am

    I don’t believe anything I read. I called the BW for myself and they didn’t want to say much but did relate that no break in had taken place and that the person in question also said that nothing was bothered or stolen. If she says otherwise now she’s just trying to either cause trouble or steal from her insurance co. I hope either the BW or her insurance company get after her about this. Bad business and her agenda is obvious.