Because we can…
There is only one truly large scale event dedicated solely to custom rod building – the International Custom Rod Building Exposition. Let me qualify that statement a bit – by large scale Iâ€™m referring to more than a few dozen or even a few hundred attendees. Iâ€™m talking about an event whose size is at least on par with the main events for similar crafts as ours, such as wood turning, knife making, etc.
Although we started in conjunction with another event – The Fly Fishing Show, we quickly outgrew that relationship and moved on by ourselves. There was some concern among the industry that first year out on our own. More than a few felt that this craft couldnâ€™t possibly support and sustain a large scale, dedicated rod building event. It had never been done nor even tried. Those fears were allayed, however, about an hour into that first solo event. Since then weâ€™ve enjoyed further growth and success each and every year. So much so that weâ€™re now receiving inquiries from other groups that wish to piggyback on our event!
Thus far I have denied all such requests. Granted, I could double the booth sales and double the gate receipts by adding another event, expanding into fishing tackle or allowing another group to join the Expo. And I could do it for only an additional 20% increase on my end.Â Thus it would seem a no-brainer, for my benefit anyway, to go ahead and expand the Expo’s scope. And… if my only concern was myself, Iâ€™d do it in an instant. But there are more folks to consider in any such decision.
Almost universally, the vendors who attend and display at the Expo tell me that they like the fact that nearly every single person at the event is a custom rod builder.Â When they spend time talking to someone there, they know theyâ€™re talking to more than a possible customer – theyâ€™re talking to a likely customer.Â As soon as I add fishing tackle or another show, the vendors would spend a good deal of time with folks who really arenâ€™t in the market for what theyâ€™re selling. Which cuts down on the time they can spend with custom rod builders. We know this to be a fact because it happened every year we were in with The Fly Fishing Show. From the vendorsâ€™ standpoint, there is a certain advantage to keeping the Expo entirely dedicated to custom rod building.
Thereâ€™s yet another reason that I continue to deny requests from other groups to join the Expo. It has to do with the fact that over the last 30 some odd years that various rod building seminars, events, etc., have been taking place, the general consensus among most in the industry and the craft has been that a truly large scale event dedicated solely to custom rod building just canâ€™t be done. Itâ€™s impossible. Or so theyâ€™ve said. The craft was just too small and too spread out to be able to draw enough builders to support a large group of vendors and activities. To some extent, that line of thinking wasnâ€™t entirely without reason. The demographics involved certainly preclude any limited, regional event from getting very large.Â And yet I believed that properly and extensively advertised, and with the acceptance of a certain financial risk, a large scale event dedicated solely to custom rod building could draw enough people from enough distant locations to make such a thing a success. I proved it with the Expo. To be honest, there is some satisfaction in proving the experts were wrong and continuing to do exactly what so many said couldnâ€™t be done. Â Better than any extra money that would result from diluting the Expo with another event.
The success of the Expo this past decade has spawned other events hoping to achieve a similar success. But none have been able to do it, at least not on the same scale. (Of course, having more rod building events of any kind is a good thing – if you find one in your locale, try to attend and keep it going and growing.)
The bottom line is that it is a feather in the cap of the custom rod building craft to have something of our own that is on par with the main events for other similar crafts. To this day, the Expo remains the only large scale event dedicated solely to custom rod building. Youâ€™ve probably heard it said that there is nothing else like the Expo – and the fact is, there isnâ€™t.
See for yourself: Â Â http://www.icrbe.com/id16.html