New Product Showcase is jewel in the crown for ICAST visitors
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When Tom Ashby – founder and President of the American Legacy Fishing Company – first attended ICAST eight years ago, he admits that he was less than impressed.
A retired corporate executive who was used to attending huge business conventions that attracted up to 200,000 attendees, Ashby says he was disappointed by what he first experienced. “It resembled a cottage/garage industry. The size and professionalism weren’t great,” he adds.
However, that was then, this is now…
“Today it is totally different,” he says. “The attendance has almost tripled since our first visit and the professionalism of everyone involved is a compliment to the industry as a whole. It is a significant player in the recreational fishing sector and is definitely the foremost fishing tackle trade show in the world. There is no doubt it is a must-attend for every serious fishing business.
“We schedule meetings from almost the first minute on day one to the final minute on the last. Gathered in the Orange County Convention Center for that period in July are all the most important people in the industry – principals from both sides of the table get together to touch base and discuss plans for the coming year.”
Ashby believes there is now a special feel to ICAST. “The place is buzzing and there are always new people to see.”
One of the highlights of ICAST is the New Product Showcase (NPS) and Ashby says that it is the most important part of the show for his company. He explains. “We want to find new, different and innovative new products at ICAST – not a rehash of the ‘same-old-same-old’ rod blank with a different coat of paint on it. The NPS gives us the chance to see one or two new products or companies that we were not aware of and which we will explore further.
“It gives retailers like us a heads-up. We have picked out some really good products through the showcase, including lures from LIVETARGET and reels from Lew’s Fishing Tackle. Some of the products we have discovered there have just flown off the shelves.
“I don’t think attendees put enough importance on the NPS and the sales benefits it can bring to their business.”
The American Legacy Fishing Company was founded by Ashby and his wife over a decade ago as a retirement business for the couple, but, by Ashby’s own admission, it has exploded into a hugely successful e-commerce operation with a bricks and mortar store in Evansville, Indiana. The business specialises in high-end fishing tackle and is also the world’s first superstore for G. Loomis – described by Ashby as the ‘Harley Davidson of fishing’ – stocking the celebrated brand’s entire product line.