Board Ready for Annual Conference - Monday Memo 5/15/23

May 15, 2023

ABI Board Holds Terrific May Meeting

ABI Chair Kim Augspurger (Pigott, Des Moines) and the women and men of the ABI Board of Directors held a great May meeting last Wednesday.  The meeting served as the final gathering of the board in advance of next month’s 120th ABI annual Taking care of Business Conference. 

The meeting was marked by strong participation and as always, a highlight of the meeting was the business updates that members shared regarding the state of their business.  ABI members are seeing a very strong business cycle.  And it was great to hear from Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird and from ABI member CEO Chad Rubner (Express Logistics, Urbandale).  Thank you to all who participated last week and we look forward to seeing you at the annual conference. 

2023 Taking Care of Business Conference Just Four Weeks Away

Speaking of ABI’s annual Taking Care of Business Conference, it will be held in Cedar Rapids beginning just four weeks from tomorrow.  A huge crowd, world-class speakers, gorgeous brand new venues, fabulous food, great golf, a fantastic silent ABI Foundation Auction, and the very best business networking in Iowa will all be a part of this terrific event. 

Almost 400 of you have already registered and more registrations are coming in each day. Register NOW by clicking on Summary - Taking Care of Business Conference (  This will be a spectacular event – don’t miss it! 

Latest Edition of Business Monthly Now Out

Each month, in partnership with the member Corridor Business Journal/Quad Cities Business Journal, ABI publishes the ABI Business Monthly.  This newsprint publication reaches about 7,500 Iowa business leaders all across the state.  The May edition should now be in your mailbox, inside the Corridor Business Journal.  If you haven't yet received it, please let me know and another copy will be sent to you at once.  Or, click here to read it now: 64591d5cd2e113434b025.pdf (

ABI Regional Public Policy Meetings Convene May 24 in Council Bluffs

As you know, adjournment of the Iowa General Assembly’s 2023 session means that many of us on the ABI team will be hitting the road for regional public policy meetings.  In fact, the first regional meeting will be held May 24th at the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce later this month.  Other meetings will be held in Fort Dodge, Sioux Center, LeClaire, Des Moines, and at the annual conference in Cedar Rapids.  Go now to Events Calendar | Iowa Association of Business and Industry ( and register for the meeting nearest you.  Thank you to ABI members hosting the meetings: Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce, Cargill, Interstates Companies, and Mississippi River Distilling Company

Foundation Board to Meet; LI Connect Focus on Manufacturing and Transportation Wednesday

ABI programs delivered through the ABI Foundation are enjoying a very strong year, with participation numbers and finances among the best ever.  In that regard, the ABI Foundation Board of Directors will meet Wednesday at ABI.  Thank you to Foundation Board Chair and former ABI Chair Lori Schaefer-Weaton (Agri-Industrial Plastics, Fairfield) and board members for their service and congratulations on a very good year. 

In other news, Leadership Iowa’s LI Connect series of programs will hold another this Wednesday.  It will focus on manufacturing and transportation and is open to all LI Alumni Society and current class members.  Click here for more information: Meeting Registration - Zoom.  

CIRAS Board Meets a Week from Thursday at ISU

A valued ABI member-partner is Iowa State University's Center for Industrial Research and Service.  CIRAS is a fabulous resource for Iowa manufacturers and businesses of all kinds.  Over the years, many ABI leaders have also been involved in CIRAS and several are current members of the CIRAS Industry Advisory Board.  The board will meet a week from Thursday, on May 25th at Iowa State.  Watch for news of any developments in future editions of the ABI Monday Memo

Looking for Seasoned Corporate Marketing Professional; Reply to Me

As you know, this memo is not an employment newsletter.  Sometimes over the years, however, I have included information about key people who may be able to help your company.  In that regard, I recently was reacquainted with an executive who was formerly a senior team member at a longtime ABI member manufacturer.  This person is a terrific marketing executive and a great person.  If you are seeking someone like that to fill a vacancy at your company, reply to this memorandum and I will get you more information.  

Iowa State Looking for Interested CyTown Entities

Officials with Iowa State University contacted ABI last week to share information about the new CyTown development currently being built near Jack Trice Stadium.  Click here for more information about CyTown: CYTown (  ISU has issued a Request for Interest document to find businesses that may want to locate in CyTown, on the Iowa State University campus. The development will include restaurant, retail, and office spaces.  Interested parties can go to ISU Procurement ( to review and if interested in responding, you’ll need to complete what was described to me as a “quick 2 minute registration” and then complete the document.  Or, please contact me for more information.

NAM Report: Manufacturing Construction Soars

Last week’s edition of the Global Manufacturing Economic Update published by the National Association of Manufacturers is an interesting one.  It includes several data points that speak to how strong the manufacturing sector is doing right now, leading with news of a huge increase in manufacturing construction.  The report seemed to confirm what members shared during last Thursday’s ABI board meeting.  As always, if you wish to see the report for yourself, reply to this memo and I’ll get it to you at once.  

KENT Corporation Honored

For the fourth consecutive year, a longtime ABI member has been recognized.  KENT Corporation has been named a 2023 US Best Managed Company by Deloitte and The Wall Street Journal, the program recognizes outstanding U.S. private companies and the achievements of their management teams.  Read more here:  Congratulations to KENT Chairman and CEO Gage Kent (KENT Corporation, Muscatine), ABI Board Member Rich Dwyer (KENT Corporation, Muscatine), and everyone at this great Iowa company! 

BCC Advisers Helps Your Acquisition Strategy

Many ABI member companies tell me they are looking to grow through acquisition of other successful companies.  Longtime ABI Board Member Steve Jacobs (BCC Advisers, Des Moines) confirmed this in his comments at last week’s board meeting.  It is timely, then, that the cover story in the latest edition of the BCC Advisers newsletter (baton) is all about ways you can positon your company as a successful buyer.  Click here to read more: Baton 20.2 (  Thank you to Steve and his team for this great information. 

This is a MUST-WATCH: Women of AG Pellett Family Feature

Sometimes it may seem that negativity abounds.  If you want to get negativity out of your system, if you want to see a fabulous Iowa story, if you want to learn more about longtime terrific ABI Board Member Stacey Pellett (John Deere, Urbandale) and her family, don’t miss this video.  Click here to view it: At 16 Years Old, 7th-Gen Iowa Farmer Smashes the Mold as Family's First Female Farmer | AgWeb.  It is simply wonderful.  Congratulations to Stacey, her husband Mike Pellett, and their children Carter and Callee!  Believe me when I say watching his video will make your day and may bring tears to your eyes (it did mine).  It will definitely make you smile. 

Dave Zrostlik Celebrates

Happy birthday to a great guy and a great ABI leader.  Former ABI Chair David Zrostlik (Stellar Industries, Garner) celebrates today.  Congratulations, Dave, and best birthday wishes! 

Lots of Member News at Last Week’s Board Meeting

The best part of ABI board meetings is always the business reports shared by you and your fellow board members.  It is always fun and enlightening to hear your comments about your business, the economy, and other items. 

Last week’s reports just happened to include news of several big things happening at ABI member businesses.  I tried to catch all the special announcements, but I fear I missed some.  If you have something share, please hit reply and let me know about it.  For now, (and this short list represents only those who shared news at last week’s meeting, as lots of other ABI members are celebrating big things, too), big congratulations to two members joining ABI in celebrating 120 years of success in 2023: you’ve read previously about Lisle Corporation, Osmundson Manufacturing is also celebrating 120 years.  It’s also a big anniversary for Merrill Manufacturing: 75 years.  Marking an expansion at TWO Iowa plants (Cedar Rapids and West Des Moines) is another ABI member: Collins Aerospace.  Congratulations to everyone at these companies, including ABI Board Members Mary Landhuis (Lisle Corporation, Clarinda), Heather Bruce (Osmundson Manufacturing, Perry), Steve Anderson (Merrill Manufacturing, Storm Lake), and former Chair Cindy Dietz (Collins Aerospace, Cedar Rapids)

Perhaps the most impactful report was shared by ABI Board Member Lesley Bartholomew (Wells Enterprises, Le Mars).  It’s always fun to hear Lesley’s report about Wells (who doesn’t like the ice cream and other tasty treats made by Wells employees), but that wasn’t what made it special this time.  As you know from reading past editions of this memorandum, Lesley has been battling cancer.  The very best news we heard last week was that Lesley is no longer a cancer patient… she is a cancer SURVIVOR.  Fabulous news and all of us at ABI are so glad!  Best wishes, Lesley!