The forerunner to the International Custom Rod Building Exposition was first held in 2004 as the National Rod Building Show.Â I partnered with Barry Serviente and his Fly Fishing Shows network and utilized a portion of the hall he had leased at the enormous Charlotte Convention Center.Â At the same time our shows were taking place, several other events were being held in other halls within the same facility. Although this beautiful facility easily handled all the events, the set up and break down periods were met with crowded dock conditions and limited moving equipment. The experience was not terribly user friendly from the exhibitorâ€™s point of view. Of course, such is the nature of so many trade and consumer shows.
In 2007, when I moved the event to the Showplace in High Point, I was given the opportunity to lease only as much of the facility as I needed. But this meant that others could lease portions of the facility on the same weekend, leaving us in a similar situation to what we had in Charlotte, with my exhibitors having to share the same dock space and moving equipment as the other events taking place that same weekend. Not to mention, our attendees would have to share the parking lot and concession area with the attendees of the other events. It was at that moment that I made the decision to dispense with profit and focus on having the most user friendly event possible for the exhibitors and attendees – I leased the whole damn place!
Granted, we only really needed about 65,000 to 70,000 square feet to hold our 70 to 80 booths and related seminar rooms and ticket/consession areas, but I wanted my exhibitors and attendees to have the best possible experience, being able to focus on the event and not worry about crowded dock or parking areas, long ticket or concession lines or anything else that happens when you put several events into the same facility on the same weekend. Yes itâ€™s expensive, but itâ€™s a bargain as well. No pipe and drape – we have hard wall systems and full carpeting, wall to wall. Exhibitors donâ€™t have to deal with a separate decorator or shipping firm – itâ€™s all taken care of within a single facility. Attendees park for free and never have to wait in long lines or maneuver through crowded aisles. Everything about the Expo is absolute top-shelf.Â
Do I regret spending several times over what I have to spend in order to host this event? Not at all. Although I could certainly do it cheaper and put the savings in my pocket, my goal remains to host one of the finest craft oriented events in one of the finest convention facilities in the world (and… booth spaces and admission fee are less than they were in 2004 in Charlotte!). Â No one can say that the custom rod building craftâ€™s premier event isnâ€™t the equal or better of any woodworking, knife-making, or associated craft event held anywhere in the world today and I’ve spared no expense to make it happen. There is truly nothing else like the Expo!