Board Week is Here - Monday Memo 5/8/23

May 8, 2023

Editor’s Note

The 2023 Session of the Iowa General Assembly adjourned early Thursday afternoon.  The special ABI newsletter distributed late Thursday afternoon carried a detailed summary of the session (click here if you didn’t see it: Sine Die: ABI's Legislative Session Wrap-Up (, which was a very good one for ABI.  Thank YOU for your help in making it so, and to the ABI policy team of JD Davis and Brad Hartkopf, for their long hours and hard work! 

Final Regular ABI Board Meeting of Fiscal Year Wednesday; Attorney General to Speak

ABI Chair Kim Augspurger (Pigott, Des Moines) will convene the May meeting of the association’s board of directors at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday (May 10).  This will mark the board’s final regular meeting of Fiscal Year 2023 and it will be held at ABI member Express Logistics in Urbandale. 

The meeting will begin with lunch, a welcome by Express Logistics CEO Chad Rubner and then an address by Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird.  Attorney General Bird will provide an update regarding her first months in office, as well as address business issues on which her office is working.  

Other highlights include a very strong financial report, the latest news from the Statehouse, a final update on the 2023 Taking Care of Business Conference, and your business updates.   There are great registration numbers for this meeting.  On behalf of Kim and our other officers, thank you for in advance for making plans to participate. 

2023 ABI Taking Care of Business Conference will be a SMASH; Governor to Attend

As you read in last week’s Monday Memo, the ABI team made a final site visit to Cedar Rapids about 3 weeks ago.  What we saw confirms what we already knew… ladies and gentlemen, the 2023 ABI Taking Care of Business Conference will be a smash event and you really do not want to miss it. 

Cedar Rapids looks is better than ever.  The EASTBANK venue, the site of the Welcome Reception on June 13, is fabulous.  Golf earlier in the day will take place at the beautiful Ellis Golf Course, which recently built a new multi-million dollar clubhouse.  The course is one of Iowa’s most beautiful public golf clubs. 

A full day of programming will take place on Wednesday (June 14) at the Cedar Rapids Convention Complex.  The complex is a beautiful convention center and nationally known, fantastic keynote speakers will lead the program.  High value breakout sessions will further enhance your day and all speakers have conveyed a strong desire to provide you with the greatest of presentations. 

The Chair’s Dinner Wednesday evening will be truly special, as ABI will take over Cedar Rapids’ HarMac Center.  Conference attendees will enter the building through ABI member Pigott’s Cedar Rapids office, where they will be treated to a delicious specialty craft cocktail.  They will then head upstairs for an event that will be fun, tasty, and very high energy.  ABI has reserved the entire HarMac Center, which includes a rooftop patio with some of the very finest urban views in all of eastern Iowa.  Believe me when I say you will enjoy yourselves! 

Throw in a great online ABI Foundation auction, Leadership Iowa graduation, and the very best business networking in Iowa, and you are certain to have an absolutely fabulous experience.  A final reason to attend was confirmed last week.  Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds will again join ABI members at the annual conference.  Her address is always a crowd favorite.  NEARLY 400 ABI MEMBERS HAVE ALREADY REGISTERED.  Register now and don’t be left out.  Go here for more information and to register: Taking Care of Business Conference | Iowa Association of Business and Industry (  

Leadership Iowa in Burlington Wednesday - Friday

As I noted in last week’s memo, the 2022-2023 Leadership Iowa class is nearing the end of its journey.  The class meets this week in Burlington, for a session that will focus on manufacturing and transportation.  The class has enjoyed strong participation and will graduate from the program in June at the annual conference.  Watch for more news as it develops. 

ABI Okoboji Executive Forum Registration Now Open

The 2023 ABI’s Okoboji Executive Forum may be the best one yet.  A spectacular program is on tap and you can register for the event now by clicking on Summary - Executive Forum (Members Only) (  Terrific speakers and fabulous Lakes Area venues are combining to make this event one you don’t want to miss.  See you in Okoboji in August! 

ABI Advisory Council Members Great Resources for Your Business

The ABI Advisory Council includes valued member companies that provide terrific programming assistance, as well as key financial support for ABI.  Thank you to the members of the council!  Those companies are Anthologic, AssuredPartners, Bankers Trust, BCC Advisers, BrownWinick, CIRAS, CliftonLarsonAllen, EMC Insurance, Fredrikson & Byron, G&A Partners, HDH Advisors, Principal Financial Network of Central Iowa, The Iowa Clinic, Wellmark, and Wells Fargo

ABI Regional Public Policy Meetings Upcoming

With adjournment of the Iowa General Assembly’s 2023 session last week, ABI Regional Public Policy meetings are on the horizon.  The first regional meeting will be held at the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce later this month.  Other meetings will be held in Fort Dodge, Sioux Center, Des Moines, and (tentatively) LeClaire.  Go now to Events Calendar | Iowa Association of Business and Industry ( and register for the meeting nearest you.  Please stay tuned for more news as it develops. 

Employee Ownership Conference This Week in Newton

The University of Northern Iowa’s Advance Iowa organization is a great ABI partner.  ABI is pleased to support Advance Iowa’s Employee Ownership Conference being held Thursday at Des Moines Area Community College’s Newton Campus.  Terrific speakers and employee ownership practitioners are lined-up for a great day of information.  Please go here to register: Overview ⋮ 2023 Employee Ownership Conference ⋮ Blackthorn ⋮ Events

Arconic Acquired by Apollo Funds

Longtime ABI member Arconic announced Thursday that it has been acquired by Apollo Funds.  Apollo Funds, an affiliate of Apollo Global Management, Inc., outlined several investments it intends to make in Arconic when the deal closes, which is expected to be in the second half (perhaps Q4) of 2023.  ABI salutes Arconic and longtime ABI Board Member John Riches (Arconic, Davenport) and sends best wishes upon this news! 

Nate Weaton to Attend Exclusive Terrazzo Conference for Industry Leaders

Longtime ABI member Weaton Companies is well-known for its industry-leading brands, at least a couple of which are focused on terrazzo installations for beautiful architectural applications.  As an industry leader, Weaton Companies and its leader, ABI Board Member and company CEO Nate Weaton (Weaton Companies Fairfield) have been asked to participate in the famous, exclusive, invitation-only terrazzo industry conference.  This year, the conference will be held at Lake Como in northern Italy.  Congratulations to Nate and his team on this recognition and best wishes for a great trip! 

Hank Norem Named Outstanding CPA

It was exciting to learn that ABI Board Member Hank Norem (Ramco Innovations, West Des Moines) received a prestigious award at the recent annual meeting of the Iowa Society of CPAs. Hank was named the Outstanding CPA in Business and Industry by ISCPA.  The award goes annually to a member who has contributed significantly to the growth and success of his/her employer organization or achieved notable entrepreneurial success. Additionally, award recipients must have also contributed significantly to the growth and enhancement of the profession.  This is great news for Hank and it is always fun for ABI when its leaders are also recognized as leaders by other organizations.  Congratulations and very best wishes to you, Hank! 

Lori Schaefer-Weaton Named Fairfield Citizen of the Year

At its annual awards banquet held last month, the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce named former ABI Chair Lori Schaefer Weaton (Agri-Industrial Plastics, Fairfield) as its Citizen of the Year.  Lori was recognized for her many years of service to Fairfield and to her family’s company, which she has led to continued success.  Congratulations and best wishes, Lori (and to other Agri employees who also received awards at the banquet)! 

Ann Jennings Passes

Ann Jennings, wife of former ABI Chair Al Jennings (EFCO, Des Moines), passed away a week ago today in Johnston.  Ms. Jennings bravely fought a long battle with cancer; she was 88 and she and Al were married for 66 years.  Visitation will be held in Des Moines this Friday at 4:00 in the afternoon, with the funeral Saturday at 10:30 in the morning.  Read more about Ms. Jennings here: Ann Jennings Obituary, Des Moines, Iowa :: Iles Funeral Homes.  Our thoughts and prayers go to the Jennings Family. 

Wellmark, Nicole Crain Star in Video

ABI member companies tend to be actively involved in public policy.  They host elected officials in their plants and offices, they educate their employees on key policy issues, they engage with officials on how those policies impact their business.  All of that is terrific and helps make our state a better place to live and do business. 

One such member is Wellmark, who recently produced a video to emphasize its policy work and why participation is important.  In recognition of ABI’s longstanding excellence in public policy advocacy, Wellmark reached out to ABI Executive Vice President Nicole Crain and she is one of the stars of the video.  Congratulations to Wellmark and Nicole and to all of you who participate in this important work.  View the video here: Strategy 5_Final4 on Vimeo

Gilliland Shares Trends Report

Longtime ABI member John Gilliland (RBC Wealth Management, Des Moines) is a great resource.  As do others of you (and we are grateful for all of you), John frequently shares interesting financial information to help shed light on economic activity.  His latest Trend and Cycle Roadmap report is interesting reading.  The good news is that there is reason for optimism ahead.  If you wish to read the report, please reply to this message and thank you, John, for sharing the information! 

David Brooks Column Notes Power of American Capitalism

While I am an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal, I have never really paid much attention to the New York Times.  A friend of mine knows this, and he sends me clippings from the Times when he sees something in which I would be interested.  Last week, he sent me an essay penned by longtime Times columnist David Brooks.  The title of the column is “The Power of American capitalism” and it is terrific. 

I have often said that you can’t be involved in ABI, meet ABI members, see ABI businesses, and not be a proponent of the American system of free enterprise and capitalism.  This dynamic economic system is what makes it possible for Iowans to have jobs, provide for their families, and build their communities.  I don’t understand those who do not see this simple truth.  If you wish to read the column and have a Times subscription, you can go to and read it.  If you don’t have a subscription and wish to read it, please reply to this memo and I will get it to you (I am leaving soon for meetings in Clinton today, so if I don’t get it to you today, I promise I will do so first thing Tuesday morning).  Thank you to all of you who by your hard work, personally illustrate the power of capitalism each and every day. 

For 120 Years, ABI Members have Grown Iowa

(Editor’s Note: This item originally appeared in ABI publications three years ago, when ABI was 117 years old.  Now, of course, the headline reads for 120 years, ABI has grown Iowa.  I wrote this when ABI and Iowa were in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It seems worth sharing again now.)

ABI was founded in 1903 as the Iowa Manufacturers Association.  For the past 117 years, through good economies and bad, ABI member companies have been employing Iowans, supporting families, and building communities. 

ABI survived two world wars.  It survived the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and sometime in the future, it will survive its second global pandemic (its first pandemic was the 1918 Influenza Pandemic). 

That success doesn’t just happen.  It isn’t just luck, although good fortune is certainly a part of it. 

ABI has grown and succeeded in exactly the same way ABI member companies have succeeded.  By the hard work, dedication, and commitment of the women and men who are the backbone of these companies.  Their innovation, strong support, and leadership are the reasons for ABI’s success. 

In the face of COVID-19, all of that is more important than ever.  ABI members have retooled to manufacture personal protective equipment.  They have donated money to community pandemic assistance funds.  Their employees have given time, resources, and materials to fight the disease. 

ABI has supported all those efforts and the ABI staff has doubled down on providing meaningful assistance and service to ABI members… so that those members can remain safely in operation and help their employees and their communities.   

That’s the real legacy of ABI.  THANK YOU for making it so.