Conference is One Week Away - Monday Memo 5/28/24

May 28, 2024

It’s Almost Here; 121st Annual ABI Convention NEXT WEEK

The 121st Annual ABI Convention, the 2024 ABI Taking Care of Business Conference, kicks-off a week from today, starting with networking activities right out of the gate that morning and afternoon.  Various locations around the Quad Cities will be the focus next Tuesday.  The terrific Hotel Blackhawk is the setting for the Gala Opening Reception, which will be held that evening.  The Reception is a fun, high energy event and it is something you do not want to miss.  

As with every ABI convention, there are many program highlights from which to choose.  However, it is clear that the keynote sessions featuring internationally-known speakers Lesa France Kennedy, Tommy Spaulding, and Frank Kelly will draw fantastic crowds.  Informative workshops will fill the afternoon on Wednesday.  

As I noted last week, the Chair’s Dinner Wednesday evening will be unforgettable.  It will be held at the Figge and it will be fabulous, fun, and tasty!  The annual ABI Foundation Auction will wrap-up that night.  In keeping with tradition, Governor Kim Reynolds will also address the conference on Wednesday.  The final keynote and Leadership Iowa graduation will take place Thursday morning.  This will definitely be a conference for the ages.  Always the source of the very best business networking in Iowa, come to the conference and choose your own highlight from the great series of events, speakers, and venues that await you.  

If you haven’t registered, that is not a problem… but almost 500 people HAVE already registered!  Go now to and click on the conference icon on the page.  Or simply reply to this message and we'll make sure you are registered right away.  On behalf of ABI Vice Chair Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) and our other officers, we look forward to seeing you next week in Cedar Rapids! 

Voting for Coolest Thing Made in Iowa Ends Tomorrow

ABI’s newest initiative, the Coolest Thing Made in Iowa, has been a terrific success.  The goal was to highlight Iowa manufacturing and the very cool products that are made here.  Well, after tens of thousands of votes and tons of attention from all over the country, it is clear this initiative has struck a chord. 

The Final Four products were announced some days ago and voting has been furious.  Voting will END at Midnight tomorrow (May 29th).  Click here for more information and to vote: Coolest Thing Made in Iowa (!  Thank you to longtime ABI member MidWestOne Bank for partnering to make Coolest Thing possible.  The winner of the competition will be announced on June 5th at the ABI Conference.  

BID & WIN for Iowa: ABI Foundation Auction is LIVE!

The annual auction benefitting the programs of the ABI Foundation went live last week.  This year’s auction will be live through June 5th in an online silent auction format. 

Thanks to the generosity of so many amazing Iowa leaders and organizations, there are dozens of fabulous items on which to bid.  Funds raised benefit the mission of the ABI Foundation to grow and sustain a connected network of enthusiastic, informed, and inspired leaders across our great state. 

Bidding will conclude on June 5 at 9:00 p.m. Click this link for more information: Foundation Auction - Taking Care of Business Conference (  

Your support for the Foundation is important, appreciated, and it is never taken for granted.  Leadership Iowa, Leadership Iowa University, Business Horizons, and Elevate Iowa have made our state a better place and impacted the lives of thousands of Iowans.  Thank you again! 

Join Consul General for Canadian Ag Minister Event

As you know from the message you received from me last week, the members of the ABI Board of Directors have been invited to patriciate in a special reception hosted by the Counsel General of Canada, Beth Richardson.  The Consul General is hosting Canada’s Minster of Agriculture and Agri-Food (the equivalent of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture) Lawrence MacAulay at an event in Des Moines on the evening of June 6th.  Ambassador Terry Branstad and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig will also be present.  If you wish to attend, please contact me and we will make that happen, as well as get your more information. 

Iowa PBS Shares Information about Potentially Fraudulent Broadcast Claim

Some years ago, ABI was one of the sponsors of a television show broadcast on the Iowa PBS network.  The program, Iowa Entrepreneur, focused on stories of home grown Iowa businesses, most of which were ABI members. 

Iowa PBS officials have now shared a warning about an organization that purports to produce a similar show.  The company solicits payments from private companies and then interviews company officials.  A video is produced, which will allegedly be broadcast on “public television.”  In this particular case, the organization is not affiliated in any way with Iowa PBS and the video will not run on the network.  

Should your company be approached in a similar way, don’t hesitate to contact ABI and we’ll research the company and the broadcast arrangement for you.  We will let you know if indeed the vendor is professional and whether or not Iowa PBS is involved.  In the meantime, ABI is grateful to Iowa PBS for making us aware of this matter. 

Nominating Committee Completes Work; Slate Developed for Annual Election

Members of the 2024 ABI Nominating Committee have now completed their work.  The committee developed a slate of officers and directors for consideration by the general membership at next week’s annual business meeting.  Thank you to these ABI leaders for their important work.  

The committee includes the following members: Immediate Past ABI Chair Kim Augspurger (Pigott, Des Moines – ret.) also serves as Chair of the Nominating Committee.  The committee includes representatives of ABI’s five Iowa districts.  Thank you to Kim and to these other ABI leaders for serving on the association's 2024 Nominating Committee: Jenny Steffensmeier (Steffensmeier Welding and Manufacturing, Pilot Grove),  Gretchen Spear (International Paper, Cedar Rapids), Stacey Pellett (John Deere, Urbandale), Mary Landhuis (Lisle Corporation, Clarinda), and Stephen Anderson (Merrill Manufacturing, Storm Lake).  Thank you again for a job well done. 

Annual ABI Regional Policy Meetings Continue; Policy Committees to Meet

Starting with meetings in Waterloo, Council Bluffs, Le Mars, and Ames, the association's public policy team has hosted four stops on the annual ABI public policy regional tour.  One more stop, in Davenport on June 5th, will complete the tour.  

Following that, ABI’s policy work will move to the next phase.  Each of ABI's five policy committees, plus the Legislative Committee, will meet later this summer.  You and your employees are invited to participate in those meetings at no charge.  You can find more information or register for any of the meetings using this link: Thank you to ABI board members who have participated in the regional meetings: Peter Voorhees (Standard Golf Company, Cedar Falls), Lesley Bartholomew (Wells Enterprises, Le Mars), Rachel Geilenfeld (Chevron REG, Ames), Katie Hall (Cargill, Clive), Liz Hobart (GROWMARK, Bloomington IL), and Rick Kadansky (LyondellBasell, Clinton)

Leadership Iowa to Celebrate; Current Class Will Graduate

The ABI Foundation's Leadership Iowa program marks another successful year with activities coinciding with the annual conference.  Go now to for more information. 

The LI graduation ceremony will take place on the Main Stage during next Thursday morning’s conference session.  It will be a highlight of the annual conference for attendees to honor the LI Class, which has been noted by some as the best ever.  I know you join me in congratulating all class members. 

Joseph Jones Honored with Leadership for Iowa Award

The ABI Foundation's highest honor is the Leadership for Iowa Award.  The award is presented periodically to an alumnus of the Leadership Iowa program who is a leader among leaders and who has demonstrated a commitment to serve Iowa. 

The 2024 award will be presented to Iowa leader Joseph Jones.  Joseph is a good guy and active in many organizations.  Congratulations, Joseph! 

Calling All Students: Register for Business Horizons Now

Speaking of the Foundation, the ABI Foundation's Business Horizons program has been phenomenally successful, literally changing the lives of Iowa's young people over the years.  The 2024 edition of this terrific program will be held next month at Drake University in Des Moines.  

There are still slots left for students and I hope you will consider nominating the high school-age sons and daughters of your employees.  It's free and it won't take long to do it.  Please click here:  Thank you for your help! 

Fantastic ABI Executive Forum Drawing Lots of Registrations

Some years ago, at the request of members, ABI created a signature event to be held each summer.  The event, the ABI Executive Forum, has involved terrific programs and speakers and this year’s event is going to be another home run.  In fact, registrations are already pouring in for the event, which will be held August 8th and 9th.  Register now at Summary - Executive Forum (Members Only) ( to hear terrific speakers and network with ABI member executives. 

The program features a high-value presentation related to executive health care and one from a Wells Fargo economist, a family business panel involving ABI board members/owners of iconic Iowa companies, a keynote address by former ABI Chair Mary Andringa (Vermeer Corporation, Pella), two manufacturing tours, and much more.  The forum moves to Mason City and will involve terrific venues.  This is a fantastic program; register now using the link above! 

Register Now for ABI Executive Open

It is time for me to share the story I often tell of the time an ABI staff member approached me with an idea for a late-summer, early-fall golf outing.  I said something like, “No one wants another golf outing, but sure let’s try it.” 

Well, this was one more example (there are many) of me being wrong and the event sells-out every year.  This year’s ABI Executive Open will again be held at Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines, one of our state’s most beautiful private clubs.  Learn more about it here: Glen Oaks Country Club (  

While the course is fantastic, the real reason the event is so popular is because of the terrific networking and fun that are a part of it.  Registration has now opened and you can find the link here: Summary - Executive Open (  Mark your calendars and join your ABI colleagues at Glen Oaks on August 26th

Stellar Industries Receives National Export Award

It was fun to learn last week that longtime ABI member Stellar Industries was recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce with a presidential E Award.  The award was presented due to Stellar’s significant increase in exports and for other factors.  Read more here: Stellar Receives President’s 'E' Award for Exports | Stellar (  Congratulations to everyone at Stellar, including company President and former ABI Chair Dave Zrostlik (Stellar Industries, Garner)

CemenTech Mixer Named a 2024 Top Product

ABI member CemenTech received a big honor from Concrete Contractor magazine.  The publication named CemenTech’s CD2 volumetric mixer as a Top Product for 2024.  Several features make the CD2 unique and you can read more about the mixer here: Cemen Tech's New CD2 Dual Bin Volumetric Concrete Mixer.  Congratulations to everyone at CemenTech, including company President and ABI Board Member Connor Deering (CemenTech, Indianola)!

Wells Enterprises Makes Million-Dollar Investment in Le Mars Childcare Center

Many ABI members all over Iowa are stepping up help to help their communities deal with issues involving childcare.  The latest we have heard about is a big investment by ABI member Wells Enterprises.  Last week, it was announced that Wells has donated $1,000,000 to the Le Mars Area Childcare Center.  Read more about the donation here: Wells Enterprises donates $1M for childcare center | Sentinel |  This is a terrific commitment from a great Iowa employer!  ABI salutes all involved, including ABI Board Member Lelsey Bartholomew (Wells Enterprises, Le Mars)

The Business of ABI: Serving Members

Remember to call on ABI.  Your investment in our association each year comes with an expectation from us that we will provide a return on that investment.  We want to help. 

For some members, thinking about ABI doesn’t come naturally.  It should.  For example, you might recall that related to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we added lots and lots of tasks to our to-do list and were proud to deliver results for ABI members.  We found and connected ABI members with Plexiglas vendors and with personal protective equipment.  We helped find new vendors for supply chain issues.  We provided clear guidance on policies and state and federal laws.  We helped arrange financing in a couple of cases.  We continued to press (successfully) for changes in laws and regulations that had genuine benefit for Iowa employers.  Later, we helped arrange COVID vaccination clinics for members. 

The point is that is what we do (providing value for members), and we’ll keep at it.  While ABI maintains a host of existing programs and services, during special circumstances, we’ll try to add value in other ways, however you need us to do so.  Don’t forget to call on ABI when can be of assistance.  And thank you for your support which makes that assistance possible.