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Three compelling reasons to be at the world’s biggest fishing trade show

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Jon Widboom, CEO of FlyMasters of Indianapolis: Visitor to ICAST for the last 27 years.

An attendee of ICAST since he founded his business over 27 years ago, Jon Widboom knows the value of visiting the world’s biggest recreational fishing trade show.

The CEO of FlyMasters of Indianapolis, says that three important aspects of the show sets it apart from the rest and makes it a must-attend event for his business. These include:

  • Exposing you to the newest and latest merchandise being promoted by manufacturers;
  • Giving retailers a unique opportunity to talk to the people who actually make the products;
  • Getting to look your potential new partners in the eye and start the process of establishing a relationship built on trust.

He explained: “One of the main reasons why we attend is to see what’s going on in the industry and keeping ahead of the curve. A lot of our customers read about the new products before they come onto the market through social media. Going to ICAST helps us keep abreast of that.

“It also gives us an opportunity to discover some little gems that are lurking in the aisles. We have stumbled across a number of manufacturers who we didn’t do business with before, but struck up a rewarding relationship with after meeting at ICAST.”

One such exhibitor was discovered almost by accident. Widboom said: “My feet were giving me a lot of pain one year. I happened to mention it to a friend and he recommended I go to see SoftScience, a maker of footwear that were exhibiting at the show. They gave me a pair of shoes and as a result I ended up placing an order with them. We became the only shop in the state that sold their products and have enjoyed a good business relationship.”
“We also saw Ross Reels at ICAST for the first time and do business with the company as a result.”

Widboom added that meeting the people behind the products is also a valuable experience. “It is a great opportunity to ask the makers the sort of questions our customers want the answers to. It really helps you sell it back in the store.”

Establishing a personal business relationship also starts at ICAST, added Widboom. “It gives you a chance to look into the eyes of your business partners and that is very important.”

Widboom accepts that attending ICAST and IFTD can be expensive and time consuming, but he insists: “There is never a good time to have key people out of the shop for three days, but it is a business decision you have to take and stick with.” He also discounted claims that the timing of the shows put off some  potential visitors. He said: “It is always going to be peak season for someone. If you want to take your business forward you need to make these types of decisions.”

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