Briefing Held, Cole Elected to Board - Monday Memo 1/18/21

January 18, 2021

ABI Holds Annual Legislative Briefing

While the annual ABI Legislative Reception had to be postponed, the association was still able to (virtually) hold the annual members-only legislative briefing.  Something approaching 300 members from around Iowa and beyond participated in last week’s event.  The briefing was highlighted by remarks by ABI Vice President Public Policy JD Davis and ABI Director Public Policy Brad Hartkopf.  Many thanks for the good words you have shared about the event and for the work of ABI staff.  

Erin Cole Elected to ABI Board

At last week’s meeting of the ABI Board of Directors, Erin Cole (Clinton Regional Development Corporation, Clinton) was elected to the board. Erin fills the unexpired term of Tom Determann (CRDC, Clinton), who was an ABI board member for many years.  Tom is now the Chairman of the Clinton County Board of Supervisors.  Tom was a great board member and we wish him well. 

Erin is a well-known eastern Iowa business leader and ABI is excited to welcome her to the board.  Congratulations, Erin! 

First ABI Legislative Update of 2021 on the 29th

ABI's Public Policy team will hold 2021’s first monthly update related to the work of the Iowa General Assembly a week from Friday.  The virtual meeting will be held January 29 at 8:00 a.m.  The virtual meetings typically last about 30 minutes, and you and your employees are invited to participate.  Please click here for more information about the virtual meeting, free and open to ABI members only: Register now at     

Board Holds First Meeting of 2021

Members of the ABI Board of Directors met Wednesday.  ABI Vice Chair Jack Hasken (Jackson Manufacturing, Maquoketa) led the board through a fast-paced meeting, which was the board's first of 2021.  Strong participation marked what was a great meeting of the board.  The meeting was followed by the annual legislative briefing.  Thank you to all of you who participated last week. 

March Board Meeting May Move to the 9th and May Feature Other Events

More information will be coming your way soon, but plans for the March ABI board meeting and annual ABI Day on the Hill may change.  Right now, plans call for Day on the Hill and the annual IIPAC luncheon to be held on March 11.  The March meeting of the ABI Board of Directors would normally follow those events. 

However, ABI is considering holding the annual Legislative Reception on March 9.  That would call for the board meeting to precede the event earlier in the day. 

As you can imagine, the factors impacting this decision relate to the COVID-19 pandemic and health and safety protocols now in place.  Please stay tuned for a final decision soon, and thank you for your patience in the meantime. 

2021 ABI Convention Generating Buzz; Conference Workshop Speaker Meetings on Tap

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.  That was one reason it was so painful to have to cancel last year’s meeting.  Believe me when I share with you that then-ABI Chair Cindy Dietz (Collins Aerospace, Cedar Rapids) and the 2020 Conference Committee had developed a terrific annual meeting agenda. 

The 2021 conference is ABI’s 118th Annual Meeting and it is also shaping to be a fabulous event.  It will be held June 8-10 in Coralville/Iowa City.  

The 2021 conference is generating a lot of buzz, with people in the area eager to host a big group such as ABI.  At the conference, you will hear from terrific speakers and get great information.  In fact, conference workshops are especially terrific and meetings are being held later this week to ensure workshop speakers are ready to give you the very best information possible. 

Be assured that work continues to ensure the conference is a fantastic event.  The flagship conference hotel, the Coralville Marriott, is filling fast.  Click here for more information about the hotel:   By the way, the conference registration website will go live next month.  

Elevate Again Offering Community College Scholarships

Each year, ABI’s Elevate Advanced Manufacturing initiative offers scholarships for Iowa high school students.  In 2021, 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! 

LIU Board to Meet

Members of the board of directors of the ABI Foundation’s Leadership Iowa University program will meet virtually on Thursday.  As you know, LIU is a week-long program for college students held in Des Moines each summer. 

The program connects participants with opportunities and helps them plan their future… right here in Iowa, hopefully working for an ABI member company.  Thanks to members of the LIU board for their work and service. 

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:  

NAM Report: Global GDP, Manufacturing Expanding

Last week’s edition of the National Association of Manufacturers’ Global Manufacturing Economic Update predicts major gains in global GDP and manufacturing activity.  That’s good news. 

As always, there was a lot of other great information in the report.  If you wish to see the report for yourself, reply to this message and I’ll get it to you at once. 

Sukup Announces Latest Expansion

Iconic Iowa company and longtime ABI member Sukup Manufacturing Co. last week announced its latest expansion.  And it is happening quickly, as by the end of March of 2021, a new 30,000 square foot Sukup manufacturing facility will open in Hampton.  Hampton, of course, is not too far away from Sukup’s main manufacturing campus in Sheffield.  

Click here to read more about this project:  This is great news for the company and for all of North Iowa.  Congratulations to everyone at Sukup, including President and CEO Steve Sukup (Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield), General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer Emily Schmitt(Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield), and former ABI Chair and Sukup Chairman Charles Sukup (Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield)

Elkhart Plastics Acquired by Myers Industries

Longtime ABI Board Member John Krogman (Elkhart Plastics, Atlantic) shared some big news last week.  Myers Industries, an industry leader, acquired EPI and with it, has become the fifth largest rotational molder in the United States. 

Read more about the deal:  Thanks for sharing the news, John! 

Paul Gregoire and John Schreurs Mark Birthdays

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

Steven Bradford’s Father Passes

As you read in last week’s Memo, I was sorry to have to report the death of ABI Chair Steven Bradford’s (HNI Corporation, Muscatine) father, Richard J. Bradford.  Mr. Bradford had been in declining health and he passed away January 8th in Utah.  

Mr. Bradford was a Utah business leader, a former member of the Utah House of Representatives, and a terrific family man.  You can read more about his exceptional life here:!/Obituary.  Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Steven and his family. 

The Business of ABI: Atlantic Bottling and ABI Members’ Lessons

You know that from time to time in these memos, I like to feature a data point or business practice that is a focus at ABI.  Often, these are things we learn from ABI members and they account for much of ABI’s success.  I seek to model your actions in the way I provide staff leadership at ABI.  That is by managing the association like a business.  For instance, our members are also our customers.  If we aren’t giving you a reason to invest your dues with ABI, we aren’t doing our job.  

In that regard, when I received The Fizz, the monthly newsletter from longtime ABI member and iconic Iowa company Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company last week, I was struck by two things.  They relate to an employer’s two most important assets: a strong, collaborative workforce and a strong financial condition.  Atlantic Bottling celebrates both. 

First, the newsletter honored 9 individuals, who together achieved 360 years of service with the company.  Those nine individuals averaged 40 years of service with one employer!  That is a wonderful testament to those nine folks and to the company. 

Second, an item in the newsletter noted that the company achieved its financial targets.  In the middle of a global pandemic, with supply chain impacts, changes in consumer habits, business closures, and everything else, the company celebrated success.  They thanked their employees for making this so and encouraged further support for each other in 2021.  That is terrific and congratulations to everyone at the company, including Chairman/former ABI Chair Kirk Tyler(Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Des Moines) and President/ABI Board Member Rob Feeney Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Des Moines)

The really good news is I know that this success is the norm for ABI member companies.  You and your valued employees worked incredibly hard, through once-in-a-lifetime hardships, and achieved success.  Again, that is great for the company, for the employees, and for Iowa.  It is a model we strive to follow here at ABI. 

ABI is also again having a strong year.  We finished in black for the fiscal year ended July 31, 2020, and I know we will do it again for the year that will end July 31, 2021.  ABI works hard to provide exceptional service, programming, and value, but the real reason for our success is the support and leadership of ABI members.  THANK YOU.