The Wild and Wooly Expo

My attorney once told me, “When there’s trouble, check the low man on the totem pole – he’s the one most likely to cause a ruckus.”


In 9 years of hugely successful International Custom Rod Building Exposition events, we’ve had literally tens of thousands of people and millions of dollars of product, displays, currency, etc., move in and out of the event facility.  And yet in all that time, I’ve only had 3 reports regarding any sort of unseemly “incidents.” Considering the amount of material and numbers of people we’ve dealt with, that puny number may constitute  a record for all I know, but due to some gross exaggerations being spread I feel compelled to state the facts regarding those 3 “incidents.”


1. In 2010, a guest or a housekeeper, failed to lock and close a room door at an area hotel (I have nothing to do with any of the hotels). The room was thoroughly examined by the guest and hotel personnel and nothing was disturbed nor found to be missing. In other words, nothing happened. But eighteen months later, the guest filed a claim against her homeowner’s insurance policy stating that the room had been ransacked and jewellery taken. She became upset when the hotel manager refused to corroborate her new story, which contradicted her own statements at the time of the incident. The insurance company was not fooled.


2. After packing up from a successful event in 2010, an exhibitor left a parcel (long tube) for UPS pick up on the following Monday. The parcel failed to reach the company later that week. It went missing as shipments sometimes do. Rumors that it was “stolen” are  based on nothing more than conjecture, not fact. I covered this matter over a year ago.


3. In 2011, one of the exhibitors placed some of their product decals on another exhibitor’s crate. They thought it was funny. He didn’t. I spoke to both parties. The first called the second, apologized and assured him they’d not repeat the stunt in the future. End of story.


So, that’s the naked truth about the wild and wooly International Custom Rod Building Exposition. Actually, I feel kind of bad that after 9 years, tens of thousands of custom builders, dozens upon dozens of exhibitors, millions of dollars in product and currency changing hands, and everything else that has to take place to stage such a full scale event, these 3  supposedly sordid incidents are the only tales I can regale you with – and they’re hardly ribald in the least.


On the other hand, the Expo itself is indeed exciting and I’ll hopefully see you in February when the world’s largest and best custom rod building event again takes center stage.


Tom Kirkman


PS It dawned on me that this is an excellent opportunity to put up the most recent exhibitor list for the upcoming 2012 Expo. Enjoy!




American Tackle


Angler’s Envy


Angler Innovations


Angler’s Resource (Fuji)


Angler’s Roost




Bingham Enterprises


Decal Connection




Get Bit Outdoors


Hatteras Jack’s


Hydra Fishing, LLC


Jim Upton Weaving


Ken and Lana Preston Rods


Lamiglas, Inc.


Mar Ktruz LDA Cork


Mickels Custom Rods


Mud Hole Custom Tackle


NERBS – Northeast Rod Builders


North Fork Composites


Pacific Bay, Inc.


Phenix Rods and Blanks


Renzetti, Inc.


Riley Rods




RodMaker Magazine


Schlesinger Wood Turning


Seeker Rod Company


Skin Shop USA


St. Croix Rods


Sticks ‘N Bones




Talon Graphite


Tiage USA


Tour Star Products


Trondak U-40


Woodworkers Shop


More TBA by December 15th, 2011





  1. Ken Finch/FL on December 13, 2011 at 1:22 am

    I have no idea about the little ins and outs that probably take place behind the scenes of any public show anywhere. All I know is that the Expo is the best dang rod building show I’ve ever attended and I’ll be back every year for the rest of my life, as long as I’m able.

  2. StanGleason on December 13, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Ditto. Could not have said it better.

  3. Tom on December 13, 2011 at 3:06 am

    There’s never been any custom rods stolen at the Expo. If there was any evidence that a theft had occurred, why wasn’t it reported to the police? If a hotel room was ransacked and jewelry stolen, why didn’t the “victim” call the police and file a report at the time of the supposed theft? Look a little deeper into the facts and these stories fall apart.

  4. CraigH. on December 13, 2011 at 3:29 am

    Their just trying to cause trouble. The ICRBE is a class event all the way around. I bet you have had less trouble than any regular fishing show in the country. I had my car stole at a fishing show one year. Is the show producer responsible for that? Fat chance!

  5. MackJohnston on December 13, 2011 at 4:39 am

    Its the same three or four people that are always taking shots at Tom, the Expo, the Rodmaker mag, etc. None of this was even worth talking about. Stuff that goes on at hotels and with shippers is beyond Toms control and it looks like this stuff never really happened the way some want us to believe. Ignore them and sooner or later they will blow away. Its all a non issue. The ICRBE is great every year.

  6. Magellio on December 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    My 2 cents. You have nothing to do with the hotels. Hope the insurance co. goes after this person on their own. UPS and FedX muck up shipments and then deny responsibility all the time. This is nothing new and outside your control. A sticker on a box is not much to worry about. So all in all just much ado about nothing. Keep up the great work on the best rod building show in history.

  7. SethPatterson (Wahoo2) on December 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    My guess is that the UPS guy missed the scan, put the tube on his truck, and then it got lost or damaged along the way back. I worked for UPS up until a few years ago and this happened more often than you would think. When a parcel does not get scanned correctly at pick up you cannot count on the shipping label to get it back home. It has to get into the system right then. All sorts of things can happen from there. I might not should tell this, but often when a package gets damaged it gets tossed instead of delivered. I do not buy this thing about it being stolen from the Showplace because if theft was an issue how come only this one package has been stolen in all these years there? This has UPS Bungle written all over it.

  8. Tom on December 14, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Yes, most likely.

    In the meantime, I spoke with a local police detective this evening. He informed me that the hotel guest listed in incident #1 above, filed a police report back in September of this year, which is 19 months after the supposed incident took place. Because of inconsistencies in the guest’s report from that night and the time of the filing, they immediately listed the report as “exceptionally cleared” meaning that they found no reason to pursue the matter. The detective told me that they believe she filed a false report which is a misdemeanor in North Carolina. There is no doubt that this is an attempted insurance scam.

  9. Pat Helton on December 14, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Somebody is lying.

  10. Tom on December 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    You’re right about that, and the police seem to believe it’s the former room guest.The Best Western’s manager’s statement was on an earlier entry here. It simply states the facts, no conjecture. Very professional. You can locate it yourself or ask and have it forwarded.

  11. SethPatterson (Wahoo2) on December 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Saw it. How much jewelry would a person carry into a room and how would they not know it was missing until a year and a half later. If I had anything of value in a hotel room and I suspected a break in I would check my valuables right off the bat. I would know in two minutes if anything was missing. This whole thing stinks of fraud. I hope whoever pulled this stunt has been banned from any future Expos.

  12. SethPatterson (Wahoo2) on December 14, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    They are saying the letter from the lady at the Best Western was fabricated by you.

  13. Tom on December 14, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Of course they are. But if it’s in any way disingenuous the Best Western will certainly have a grand legal case against me, won’t they?

    On another note, the operator of the Showplace received the same report direct from the source at that same time. The folks who now claim the letter isn’t real didn’t stop to think that the original might have been sent direct to others as well.

    The police are in possession of the same document from the Best Western’s management and they have no question as to whether it’s genuine or not.

  14. SethPatterson (Wahoo2) on December 14, 2011 at 7:04 pm


  15. Ken Finch/FL on December 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    LOL! Just keep feeding them more rope. They’re hanging themselves one by one.

  16. Rolly on December 14, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Drafting an E-mail and making it appear to come from a corporate executive or manager would be both a criminal and civil offense. I am sure that Best Western would be on it like a fat man on a ham sandwich. For this reason I am sure it is genuine.

    I think those people got scared that it was going to get out and expose them and so they had to think up a quick excuse to try and explain it away. In their haste they forgot some important details such as it having been sent to more people than just Tom. Big mistake.

  17. Tom on December 14, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Right you are. In fact, if I forged or altered that email in any way, I’m in big, big trouble. We’d be talking possible jail time.

  18. Terry on December 15, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Thanks very much. You have a vendor list published. Now I know where I’m headed to in February. It’s nice to be able to book airfare and make plans in advance.

  19. Tom on December 15, 2011 at 12:31 am

    The exhibitor list has been available on the event website since July. Obviously, I’ve updated it several times as more and more exhibitors have signed on. Hope to see you there.

  20. Rob on December 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Tom, there is a very unhealthy and even potentially dangerous obsession going on here. This woman’s business website is mostly about you. Her forum is mostly about you. Her newsletters are about you. Her blog is all about you. At least one out of three posts she makes anywhere is either about you or references you within long epistles. As a person with a professional background in the mental health field, I would strongly advise you to talk to your local police and at least make them aware of this situation. This type of obsession coupled with sociopathy and/or malignant personality disorder can and often does result in a situation that can have serious consequences for the person being obsessed over. I know your practice is to blow such things off, but this woman has a very unnatural and disturbing obsession with you and I would advise you to speak to someone in a position of authority about it. This could be a serious matter.

  21. Scott on December 18, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I have been following this on another website and I’m shocked that it has been allowed to go on so long there. I need to put my $0.02 in, as it seems that a lot of people are missing something.

    Are there rods missing? Yes. Were they “lost” or “stolen”? who knows. I can find nowhere, in what is out there, that states the rods were “stolen” except by those making the claim that they were.

    As I understand the ARB program, once approved, the rod becomes property of NFC. You are compensated X dollars in the form of a gift certificate redeemable for another blank, the inclusion of Approved Rod Builder rods in the NFC booth at ICRBE (for year of submission), and some other promotional material. The rods were at the show. I saw them in person. The builders are listed on the registry. I believe NFC has fulfilled their obligation to the builders. The only ones that are out any product is NFC, not Matt, Bill or Jimmy.

  22. Tom on December 19, 2011 at 10:53 pm


    Yes, I am aware. Don’t worry about it.



    There was no hotel room break-in or theft. There is no evidence that any rods were stolen. The very idea that individuals would suffer a burglary or theft and not bother to report it to anyone, let alone the police, is absurd. The only report concerning either of these supposed “incidents” took place more than a year and a half after the fact (and was “Exceptionally Cleared” in just a few hours). It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s going on here.

  23. Pat Helton on December 22, 2011 at 3:11 am

    Gary Loomis has made a post on his blog page that backs up everything that Bill Havens and Silvia Bullard has said concerning rods being stolen including the fact that you told them not to file a police report. So you have been exposed as a liar. Period.

  24. Tom on December 22, 2011 at 3:20 am

    You need to read Gary’s blog entry again. He did not state that the rods were stolen and there is no evidence that they were stolen. I certainly didn’t tell him not to file a police report – the idea of even filing such a thing was never discussed because there was no evidence of a theft having been committed. If I ever received any actual evidence that one exhibitor stole something from another exhibitor, that company would be forever banned from the Expo. This entire charade is about a single missing parcel, left for UPS pick-up, that a handful of folks putting on another event have decided to turn into some sort of diabolical theft. It’s silly and it’s childish.

    Please watch your language and conduct. Folks are held to a higher standard here. I expect them to act like adults if they’re going to post on this blog. Thanks.

  25. Samsung on December 22, 2011 at 8:48 am

    It’s over Tom. They told on themselves. Seems that the woman involved in all this made a statement a few days ago where she says she learned of the “stolem rods” on Sunday evening after the show closed and got worried about her own parcels left in the Showplace for pick up. Said she went back in and picked up her stuff so she could ship it herself the next day. But the NFC folks said even they didn’t know that their package had gone missing for three weeks after the show was over. That’s a mighty big “Gotcha!” moment and it looks like she got herself.

  26. Tom on December 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I don’t have the time to run around and read all this stuff that you guys do. I stated the facts, accurately, in the main blog entry above. They are what they are. At some point you have to give folks credit for having some common sense and let them decide what they want to believe.

  27. Pat Helton on December 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    You are absolutely right and there are some people that are going to believe you. There are some that are going to believe the other side of this. Perhaps this will change some minds and maybe not. I appreciate you posting my response, I was surprised.
    Thank you

  28. Tom on December 22, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    It doesn’t matter if they believe me – the Best Western’s management statement speaks for itself. It was sent to others at the same time it was sent to me so any question of it being genuine is not in doubt. The police also received a copy and have no doubt as to its authenticity. They had no trouble seeing this charade for what it is.

  29. Pat Helton on December 24, 2011 at 2:05 am

    haven’t mentioned Best Western before but today I talked to a Ms. Corine Hollingsworth. I read her the report that you sent to me and she said that it was what she had written in her report.So this is true.

  30. Pappy on December 24, 2011 at 3:31 am

    I was in the dinner party that went out the same evening after Silvia claimed that her room had been “broken into.” She said there was no damage to the door or the lock and that someone must have forged a keycard and gotten in. She also said that nothing was bothered and nothing was taken. She said that she believed that another vendor was trying to scare her by opening her door and leaving it open. All of us at the dinner table heard this. There must have been twelve to fifteen of us there and we all heard her say that nothing was bothered or taken. We all believed that she just left her door open by mistake because it made no sense that someone would forge a keycard, go into her room and then not bother or take anything.

    She never said anything at all about the room being ransacked or jewelry being stolen at any time during that entire weekend. In fact two of us even asked the hotel manager on duty about it and he said he had gone to her room that night and nothing inside was bothered or taken and that Silvia agreed that nothing was taken.

    It was only a year and half later that this story about her room being ransacked and jewelry taken was cooked up. None of us that were there at the table that night need any statement from anyone to prove what we all know to be the truth. She needs to stop this nonsense and remember that we all went to dinner that night and we all heard her original story, which is completely different from what she is saying now.

    She spent that entire weekend causing trouble and trying to blame it on another dealer there that she had had a falling out with a few months earlier. She wanted Tom to ban them from the ICRBE but he saw through it and ended up banning her instead about a month or two after the show. This is why she’s mad and cooking up all this nonsense. She’s still sending threatening E-mails and letters to many of us who refuse to go along with her stories. Shame on her for trying to cause all of us so much trouble.

    • Johnette on October 9, 2016 at 4:34 am

      I know! Jay tried them with Cajun spice and CO;&1NL#82D7UT stop eating them. I’m excited to try some other seasonings, but the plain ones were so dang good too.

  31. LDarts on December 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    The fact that there was and is security at the Showplace tells me that no theft took place. UPS picked those rods up and just failed to do a proper log in. I would guess they picked up dozens and dozens of packages after the event and losing one or two is par for the course. They just were tossing stuff on the truck and missed scanning that one. Just because UPS will not own up to picking it up or losing it does not mean they did not. Any company that has ever had to deal with them on a claim knows how they get when they do not want to pay off.

    We exhibit at the Expo every year and will continue to do so because we know it to be safe, secure, profitable, and great fun.

  32. Gramps on January 25, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Those people have made up so many lies that at this point nobody with half a brain believes anything they say. If they would lie about one thing then they will lie about everything else. They got a dozen people screaming back and forth and thats all. Just a small little group with nothing better to do than try and cause trouble.