Annual ABI Conference a SMASH - Monday Memo 6/14/21

June 14, 2021

Wow!  What a Conference!!

You are used to reading that exclamation in the first Monday Memo after the annual ABI Taking Care of Business Conference; that’s because every year it is appropriate.  Given the cancellation of last year’s conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is perhaps more true this year than ever before… it was a fabulous conference! 

ABI members from across Iowa and from other parts of the nation converged on Coralville/Iowa City last week for the association’s 118th Annual Convention.  A great crowd, local hospitality, exciting venues, nationally-known speakers, and terrific events made the 2021 ABI Taking Care of Business Conference something very special.  

As you know, the annual convention is important to ABI for several reasons.  While the revenue raised by the convention is one of those, even more important is the event’s value as a source of programming and information for members.  And even more important than that, the annual convention helps continue ABI’s momentum and provides members and sponsors with the very best business networking in Iowa.  It is abundantly clear that this annual meeting achieved the convention committee’s goals related to revenue, programming, and networking. 

On behalf of the ABI Board of Directors, THANK YOU to all members, sponsors, and convention attendees for your time and support last week.  Special thanks go ABI Chair Steven Bradford (HNI Corporation, Muscatine), a terrific conference committee chaired by Janice Konchar (Allsteel, Cedar Rapids), and to staff events leader Holly Mueggenberg.  Nicole Crain, Dorothy Knowles, Michelle Vollstedt, Jessi Steward, Becky Coady, Jane Galloway, McKenzie Kielman, JD Davis, Brad Hartkopf, and intern Cami Schaefer also deserve special thanks.   

ABI members are off to a convention in another great city for the 2022 conference.  See you back in Dubuque next June! 

Jack Hasken Elected New Chair of ABI

At the Annual Business Meeting held last Wednesday in Coralville, ABI members elected new officers and directors for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.  Jack Hasken (Jackson Mfg., Maquoketa) was elected Chair, Kim Augspurger (Saxton, Des Moines) was elected Vice Chair, Rich Phelan (LyondellBasell, Clinton) was elected Treasurer, and Peter Voorhees (Standard Golf, Cedar Falls) was elected Secretary.  Steven Bradford (HNI Corporation, Muscatine) is Immediate Past Chair.  

Executive Committee members were also elected, including returning members Casey Cason (Wells Fargo, Des Moines) and Kellan Longenecker (General Mills, Avon).  New committee members are Tim Conlon (Conlon Construction, Dubuque), John Riches (Arconic, Davenport), and Molly Varangkounh (Hy-Capacity, Humboldt).  

New board members from across the state were also elected and they will take office (along with the new officers and Executive Committee) on July 1.  Retiring board members have provided important leadership for ABI and they will soon be officially recognized for their service. 

Jack Hasken is a longtime ABI board member and a well-known Iowa business leader.  He is the President and Owner of Jackson Mfg. in Maquoketa.  Jack is active on several boards and initiatives, both in NE Iowa and throughout the state, and Governor Kim Reynolds appointed him to the Iowa Workforce Development Board.  While ABI has had multiple family members serve as ABI Chair previously, this is the first time a husband and wife team have served as Chair, as Jack’s wife and business partner, Sarah Hasken, served as ABI Chair in FY 2010.  Congratulations to Jack and to our other officers and directors! 

Governor Addresses Convention

Having the Governor of Iowa address the annual convention is an honored ABI tradition.  Last week, Governor Kim Reynolds addressed the convention and paid tribute to ABI member companies throughout Iowa.  It is always a treat to have the Governor with us.  Thank you to Governor Reynolds for joining us in Coralville.  

LI Class Graduates; Drew Conrad Named 2021 Leadership for Iowa Award Winner; 2021 Business Horizons Session Fast Approaching

At a ceremony held Thursday, members of the 2020-2021 Leadership Iowa Class graduated.  Class members have demonstrated a real commitment to continuing their leadership activities and it is clear that our state will benefit from these committed young leaders.  Congratulations to everyone! 

Prior to the LI ceremony, the Leadership for Iowa Award was presented to longtime Iowa leader Drew Conrad.  ABI congratulates and sends best wishes to Drew. 

The focus of the ABI Foundation now shifts to the upcoming session of Business Horizons.  As you know, BH is a week-long entrepreneurial experience for Iowa high school students and this year’s session will take place next month on the campus of Central College in Pella.  Please go to for more information. 

In other Foundation news and thanks to all of you, last Wednesday evening's Foundation Auction was a huge success.  A special thank you goes to former ABI Board Member Nate Weaton (Weaton Capital, Fairfield), who led the auction.  Thank you, Nate! 

ABI Publishes Iowa HR Library

One of ABI’s popular services over the years has been to provide a library of reference books related to Human Resources and other issues.  The reference set is periodically updated and highlighted for those companies seeking such a resource and it is offered at a very nominal rate for ABI members.  For more information or to obtain a set of manuals, please contact the ABI office.  

Annual ABI Okoboji Executive Forum This Summer

Former ABI Chair Dennis Murdock (CIPCO, Des Moines) used to say that an official ABI conference had to be held in Okoboji.  Dennis relented in recent years, because as he told me, he enjoyed the ever-growing ABI conferences.  But ABI members still love the Iowa Great lakes. 

In response to the great many of you who asked for a Lakes-area event, ABI five years ago created an executive forum.  The event, held at Okoboji, focuses on high-value programming for top executives.  It has been was a huge success and it is ABI’s fastest-growing event. 

The forum had to be cancelled last year due to the pandemic, but the fourth annual forum will be held late next month in Okoboji.  Plans are for an even bigger and better event, with Chairman,  President and CEO Dan Houston (Principal (Des Moines) as the keynote speaker.  Watch for more information and we’ll look forward to seeing you there! 

NAM Publication Highlights Inflation Concerns

This week’s edition of the Monday Economic report, published by the National Association of Manufacturers, shares information about inflation pressures.  It’s another good read and if you wish to see it for yourself, simply reply to this message and I’ll get it to you at once. 

Tylers Celebrate 41st; Phelans their 48th

Former ABI Chair Kirk Tyler (Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Des Moines) and his wife, Janel Tyler, recently celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary.  Congratulations to Kirk and Janel and their family on this terrific milestone! 

Also celebrating are Rich Phelan (LyondellBasell, Clinton) and his wife, Carolyn Phelan.  They marked their 48th anniversary.  In fact, their family enjoyed an anniversary dinner during last week’s ABI Conference.  Congratulations and very best wishes to Rich and Carolyn and their family! 

The Business of ABI: Convention Edition

As you know, the metrics associated with ABI’s annual convention have been steadily growing over the past several years.  There is a very real momentum at ABI that ensures the association’s long and proud history is leading to an even stronger and more successful future.  Members tell me they can hardly wait until next year’s 119th Annual ABI Convention to see what will happen.  On behalf of Chair Steven Bradford (UNI Corporation, Muscatine) and soon-to-be Chair Jack Hasken (Jackson Mfg., Maquoketa) and our other officers, THANK YOU for making the convention – and our association – so successful.