Why North Carolina?

The topic often comes up – “Why is the EXPO located in North Carolina?” Well, it’s not because I happen to live here. It’s because North Carolina ticks more boxes than any other state in the ability to draw the most builders, at only a marginal risk of bad winter weather while also being affordable for most. For now, however, let’s consider just the location in terms of rod builder density.

The ability to stage a successful, large scale custom rod building event requires a thorough knowledge of custom rod builder demographics. Given that there is no particularly large density of rod builders in any given locale, it is important to situate any such event in a location that is within a single day’s drive of the largest percentage of the Nation’s builders.

Although North Carolina ranks fourth in percentage of U.S. custom rod builders, that percentage by itself is still nowhere near enough to support a rod building event the size and scope of the “EXPO.” However, North Carolina is squarely between two other builder-rich regions – Florida and the upper Midwest, both of which are within a single day’s drive of NC but neither of which is within the same single day’s driving distance of the other.

West of the Mississippi is wasteland in terms of rod building density, other than Texas which does have a very good number of builders. In fact, Texas has more rod builders than any other state! But, Texas is also just a bit too far removed from the other high percentage states to attract enough builders to support something like the EXPO. California is nearly identical to Texas in having a decent density of rod builders, but just like Texas, is far, far removed from a single day’s drive from those states they’d need to draw from to have an event like the EXPO.

Rod building events are good for the builders and for the craft, but those who attempt to host such events need to temper their expectations based on the location/s they chose. It is simply not possible to attempt an event like the EXPO anywhere in the U.S. and expect it to succeed in similar fashion. Let’s remember that similar events have been tried in California, Florida. Texas, Washington, Minnesota and others, and none have come anywhere close to the success of the EXPO. Without a keen eye on the demographics and an attempt to work within them, any such attempt is most likely to disappoint. There is a reason that the EXPO remains the only large scale, annual rod building that has been hugely successful each of its 23 years. It hasn’t been an accident!