Surely there is a better place to host an international custom rod building event than Winston-Salem, NC, right? Actually no, and this has been proven at least a dozen or more times in the past two decades.
Numerous attempts at large scale rod building events have been pursued in Southern California, Washington State, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Minnesota. How could such an event not succeed and prosper in at least a couple of those seemingly fantastic locations? And yet, not a single one could gain enough traction to last more than a couple years with most going the “one and done” route. The hosts’ lack of understanding regarding rod building demographics and related event factors doomed these events right out of the gate.
Consider rod building demographics and you find that 70% of custom rod builders in the U.S. live east of the Mississippi River. Given that there is no great regional density of rod builders anywhere, you need to draw from this entire market. Therefore it is vitally important to locate the event within a day’s drive of those builders so they can carry home the products they will likely buy at the event. Then you have to regard the possibility for foul winter weather during the time of year when such an event must be held. These factors relegate you to a narrow strip of real estate that stretches from roughly Atlanta to Roanoke.
Atlanta seems like a great choice. Easy to get to and rarely subject to bad winter weather events. But then you’re hit with the reality of attempting to host a rod building event in such an expensive city. Few companies in our craft can afford the pricey exhibit space and attendees would not be one bit happy with average Atlanta hotel prices. Roanoke is a bit remote and just far enough north to greatly raise the chance of foul weather in February, which is about the only month when you’re not competing with somebody’s fishing season. However, in-between Atlanta and Roanoke is the Piedmont Triad, anchored by Charlotte to the south and the Tri-City area just to the north. Of the 4 cities contained in that stretch, Winston-Salem is the most affordable, easiest to get to and provides the greatest number of amenities surrounding the convention center. Although nasty winter weather can raise its head there as well, it’s not nearly as likely as anywhere further north. This location perfectly fills one of the absolute key ingredients in making the International Custom Rod Building Exposition as successful as it has been.
There is indeed a method to the madness – nobody gets lucky 20 times in a row!