Annual ABI Legislative Reception a Smash - Monday Memo 1/20/20

January 20, 2020

ABI Holds Smash Legislative Briefing, Reception

The leadership of the Iowa General Assembly, dozens of legislators of both parties and chambers, statewide elected officials such Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Secretary of State Paul Pate and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and Auditor of State Rob Sand, state department heads, and ABI members have shared great comments regarding the 2020 ABI Legislative Briefing and Reception held last week.  The crowd was huge, with 500-plus people attending. 

Prior to the reception, the annual legislative briefing was highlighted by remarks by ABI Chair Cindy Dietz (Collins Aerospace, Cedar Rapids), Vice President Public Policy JD Davis, and ABI Director Public Policy Brad Hartkopf. 

The reception following the briefing seems to grow larger each year.  ABI members from every corner of the state and from many states outside Iowa were on hand to connect with state officials.  It is that interaction with legislators that is so vital and that makes the event such a critical component to advancing ABI’s agenda each year. 

By the way, while we appreciate the huge crowd, what is more satisfying is the number of the attendees who say they conduct business and make important connections at the events.  Check the ABI website soon for photos from the event. 

In the meantime, many thanks for the good words you have shared about the event and for the work of ABI staff.  THANK YOU for making the 2020 ABI Legislative Briefing and Reception exceptional events.  

Kathryn Kunert Elected to ABI Board

At last week’s meeting of the ABI Board of Directors, Kathryn Kunert (MidAmerican Energy Company, Des Moines) was elected to the board. Kathryn fills the unexpired term of JD Davis, who left MidAmerican to join the ABI staff. 

Kathryn is a well-known Iowa business leader and just completed a term as Chair of the Greater Des Moines Partnership.  ABI is excited to welcome Kathryn to the board! 

Remember to Listen to the Iowa Business Report Radio Show

The ABI-supported Iowa Business Report radio show, produced by Jeff Stein and broadcast on radio stations all over Iowa, is now three episodes old.  The latest episode is another terrific edition, with a number of great features and a fascinating interview with former ABI Chair Mark Hanawalt (United Equipment Accessories, Waverly).  

Remember, if you didn’t yet hear it on your local station, you click here to listen for yourself:  Simply scroll down to click on the latest episode.  Links can also be found on the ABI website at  Thank you to Jeff Stein and all of you for making the show a reality. 

First ABI Legislative Teleconference of 2020 on the 31st

ABI's Public Policy team will hold 2020’s first monthly teleconference related to the work of the Iowa General Assembly a week from Friday.  The call will be held January 31 at 8:00 a.m.  The calls typically last about 30 minutes and you and your employees are invited to participate.  Please click here for more information about the call, free and open to ABI members only: Register now at   

Board Holds First Meeting of 2020

Members of the ABI Board of Directors met Wednesday.  ABI Chair Cindy Dietz (Collins Aerospace, Cedar Rapids) led the board through a fast-paced meeting, which was the board's first of 2020.  Strong attendance and participation marked what was a great meeting of the board.  The meeting was followed by the annual legislative briefing and reception.  Thank you to all of you who joined us in Des Moines last week. 

Iowa Rural Equity Project Continues Activities

Former longtime ABI Board Member David Underwood (CFO-on-Demand, Clear Lake) has represented ABI on the steering committee for the Iowa Rural Equity Project.  You’ll recall that IREP was created to develop collaborative educational programs to help rural stakeholders build capital and make better decisions about investing that capital in community projects.  You can learn more about IREP here:

IREP has hosted workshops around Iowa, developed educational videos, and acted on plans to form a charitable equity fund for Iowa.  Much more is ahead.  For now, thank you to Dave and his IREP colleagues for their work. 

March Board Meeting Follows Business Day on the Hill

More information will be coming your way soon, but please remember that the March meeting will follow the annual Business Day on the Hill and ABI Luncheon.  Several organizations will join ABI for Business Day on the Hill and watch for more news soon.  In the meantime please mark your calendars to join your ABI colleagues in Des Moines on March 11. 

Iowa Flood Center Provides Information

Staff at the Iowa Flood Center, affiliated with the University of Iowa, have contacted ABI to share information about their work and the help they can provide to your business.  Click on this link to go to the center’s website:  

In the March meeting packet, I’ll include some additional information.  If you don’t want to wait, simply reply to this message and I’ll forward the information immediately. 

2020 ABI Convention Generating Buzz; Hotels Filling Fast

You know that the annual ABI Taking Care of Business Conference has been growing in terms of attendance and support for the past several years.  The upcoming meeting will be ABI's 117th Annual Meeting and it will be held June 9-11 in Cedar Rapids.  

The 2020 conference is generating a lot of buzz, with people in Cedar Rapids especially excited to host ABI members from all over Iowa.  At the conference, you will hear from terrific speakers and get great information.  And of course you will see Iowa's best business networking occur at this event. 

Work continues to ensure the conference is a fabulous event.  The flagship conference hotel, the DoubleTree by Hilton, is filling fast.  So is the Hotel at Kirkwood Center.  A third hotel, the Cedar Rapids Marriott, also has rooms for ABI members.  Click here for more information and to register:  By the way, the conference registration website will go live next month.  

ABI Legislative Reception Photos Available Soon; Check Events Calendar

As you know, the 2020 ABI Legislative Reception was a record-breaker in terms of numbers of members, state officials, and legislators attending.  The event was incredibly successful and was an important part of advancing ABI’s public policy agenda for the year. 

Photographs will soon be posted to the ABI website (and more will be coming).  Please check them out here:  You might be in them!  

In the meantime, many of you have asked about upcoming events.  I encourage you to check the ABI events calendar often at to see the extensive list of ABI meetings and events coming up in the next few weeks.  There is always a lot happening at ABI. 

Elevate Again Offering Community College Scholarships

Each year, ABI’s Elevate Advanced Manufacturing initiative offers scholarships for Iowa high school students.  In 2020, Elevate is again offering 15 $500 scholarships to Iowa high school seniors interested in studying a manufacturing-related program of courses at one of Iowa’s community colleges.  One award is made per each of Iowa’s’ 15 community college regions.  

Go to the Elevate webpage at for more information.  Or simply reply to this message and I will get you more information at once.  In the meantime, special thanks to ABI Board Member Michele Farrell (Measured Intentions, Urbandale) who leads Elevate! 

Iowa STEM Advisory Council Partners on Externships

Over the last few years, several ABI member companies have participated in the externship program administered by the Iowa Governor's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Advisory Council.  The externships are six-week terms for educators to get actual experience inside a business. 

The program helps educators by exposing them to practical experience in the business world.  It can help your company by gaining additional staff for a short period and by exposing educators to what their students will find when they graduate.  For more information, please go to this link:  

Business Record Again Names ABI Board One of “Most Influential”

Each year, ABI partner and member the Des Moines Business Record compiles a book of lists.  One of the lists is a list of the top 25 most influential boards of directors in central Iowa and the state.  I am proud to say that for the past several years and again this year, the ABI Board of Directors is recognized (as it should be) as one of the most influential boards.  The ABI board is the first non-central Iowa/statewide board listed.  Congratulations to all of you and THANK YOU for your leadership! 

Landhuis, Davidson, Jones Make CIRAS News

Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service is a terrific ABI member-partner.  CIRAS helps manufacturers and other businesses all across Iowa in substantive ways.  Product development, engineering challenges, pricing data… you name it and CIRAS can help you with it.  

Over the years, many ABI leaders have been a part of the CIRAS Industry Advisory Council.  (I also serve on the council).  It was announced last week that longtime ABI Board Member Mary Landhuis (Lisle Corporation, Clarinda) has been selected to Chair the council.  That is great news and congratulations, Mary!  Two other ABI leaders are joining the council.  Dick Davidson (Thombert Inc, Newton) and Phil Jones (Rada Manufacturing, Waverly) will become council members at the CIRAS meeting this coming Thursday.  Congratulations, too, to Dick and Phil! 

CemenTech Acquires Volumech

It was announced last week that ABI member company CemenTech acquired a company headquartered in the United Kingdom, Volumech.  The UK Company is a manufacturer of replacement parts for several makes of volumetric mixers and other products.  CemenTech, of course, is a global leader in the industry.  CemenTech will combine Volumech’s assets with its own UK operations.  Congratulations to everyone at CemenTech, including company President and ABI Board Member Connor Deering (Cementech, Indianola)

Paul Gregoire and John Schreurs Mark Birthdays

Two more ABI leaders are marking birthdays.  Celebrating this month are former ABI Chair Paul Gregoire (Fisher-Emerson, Marshalltown) and former Board Member John Schreurs (Strategic America, West Des Moines).  Happy birthday to Paul and John! 

Iowa Area Development Group Turns 35

Longtime ABI Board Member Rand Fisher (Iowa Area Development Group, Des Moines) oversees an organization that has helped Iowa communities grow.  IADG was launched 35 years ago this year to serve as the economic development partner for rural electrical cooperatives and others.  Over the years, IADG has itself grown, as has its impact on Iowa.  Congratulations to Rand and everyone at IADG for 35 years of success!