First ABI Exec Comm Meeting of FY25 on the 17th - Monday Memo 7/8/24

July 8, 2024

Executive Committee Meets Next Week

ABI Chair Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) and members of the ABI Executive Committee will hold their first meeting of the 2024-2025 fiscal year on July 17.  The meeting will take place by Zoom at 10:00 a.m. 

Thank you to Chad and the other members of the committee: Vice Chair Kellan Longenecker (General Mills, Avon), Treasurer Kathryn Kunert (MidAmerican Energy, Des Moines), Secretary Tim Bianco (Iowa Spring Manufacturing Company, Adel), Immediate Past Chair Kim Augspurger (Pigott, Des Moines) and District Vice Chairs Nate Weaton (Weaton Companies, Fairfield), Tom Yeoman (Yeoman & Company, Monticello), Hank Norem (Ramco Innovations, West Des Moines), Kelli O’Brien (Union Pacific, Council Bluffs), and Lesley Bartholomew, Wells Enterprises, Le Mars)

Orientations with New Board Members Ahead

As I have mentioned in recent memos, you will have the opportunity to meet the new board members soon, as ABI Chair Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) and all of you will welcome them at the ABI board meeting on September 11.  Orientation sessions with these new board members will take place in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, please welcome newly-elected board members Kathy Evert (Signarama, Ankeny), Brad Henningsen (Henningsen Construction, Atlantic), Ed McGreen (Kreg Tool Company, Ankeny), Bethany Pautsch (Tyson Foods, Storm Lake), Chad Rubner (Express Logistics, Urbandale), and Andrew St. John (CIPCO, Des Moines).  We appreciate their service and leadership!

Latest ABI Quarterly Iowa Business Survey: Workforce Stability amid Economic Uncertainty

You will recall that members of the ABI Board of Directors, including former Chairs of the board, participate in a quarterly survey to gauge projections for the coming quarter.  In the latest survey, completed last week, board members projected stable workforce numbers.  Uncertain economic conditions were also highlighted.  You can read a news release about the survey here: Iowa Businesses Anticipate Workforce Stability Amid Economic Uncertainty | Iowa Association of Business and Industry ( or here: iowa-businesses-anticipate-workforce-stability-amid-economic-uncertainty.pdf (

DON’T MISS the ABI Executive Forum; Fantastic Program on Tap

Registrations are pouring in for 2024 ABI Executive Forum.  This annual meeting, which is ABI’s fastest-growing event, focuses on high-value programming for top executives (though any ABI member is welcome to attend).  It was created at the request of members and this year’s program is terrific.  Click here for more information and to register: Summary - Executive Forum (Members Only) (      

The forum will be held the 8th and 9th of August in North Iowa.  Thursday’s events take place at various locations in Mason City.  The forum starts with a tour of Stellar Industries’ Mason City Plant on Thursday and ends with a tour of Winnebago Industries’ manufacturing campus in Forest City on Friday morning.  Thank you to former ABI Chair David Zrostlik (Stellar Industries, Garner) and to ABI Chair Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) for making the tours possible. 

Following the Stellar tour, the event moves to the well-known MacNider Art Museum for a terrific lunch program.  We’ll be welcomed by Mason City Mayor Bill Schickel, who was an ABI champion during his many terms in the Iowa House of Representatives.  We’ll also hear from a couple of business leaders (former ABI Board Member Kim Pang and MercyOne North Iowa president Chad Boore) regarding executive perspectives in health care. 

Following lunch on Thursday, we’ll move to the world-famous Historic Park Inn Hotel in downtown Mason City.  This incredible facility will be the site for a program featuring Wells Fargo Senior Economist Dr. Michael Swanson and a fabulous panel of ABI Board Members and company owners.  The panel includes Heather Bruce (Osmundson Mfg. Co. Perry), Tim Conlon (Conlon Construction, Dubuque), and Peter Voorhees (Standard Golf Co., Cedar Falls)

Keynote Speaker and former ABI Chair Mary Andringa (Vermeer Corporation, Pella) will speak next.  Mary, of course, is a second generation leader of her family’s company and is now Chair Emerita.  We’ll take a break and then Mary’s remarks will be followed by a reception and dinner at Mason City’s fabulous Music Man Square events center.  All of these facilities are spectacular and if you haven’t seen them, you will be amazed at what our state has right here in North Iowa.  As I noted last week, it will be easy to get from place to place, as Mason City is a very accessible and easy to transit community. 

Friday morning’s breakfast and tour will be hosted by ABI Chair Chad Reece at Winnebago Industries’ main manufacturing location in Forest City.  The forum is always an exceptional event and I hope you will join us in north Iowa this August!  I know you will be glad you did. 

Latest Business Monthly Out Friday

The latest edition of ABI’s monthly newsprint magazine, the ABI Business Monthly, should be in your mailbox this Friday.  We hope you enjoy this edition of the Business Monthly and if for some reason you don’t receive it, please reply to this memo and I’ll make sure one is sent to you right away.  Thank you to longtime ABI member Corridor Media Group, which publishes the journal in both the Corridor Business Journal and the Quad Cities Business Journal and distributes it across the state. 

Also in August: Annual ABI Executive Open Golf Event

As you know, ABI holds an annual golf event each year.  The event has proven incredibly popular and the 2024 event will be held Monday, August 26th.  Join us for golf and for an afternoon of fun and networking.  The ABI Executive Open will again be held at the beautiful Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines (  This is a fabulous course and registration is now open for this always-great event.  Please click on Summary - Executive Open ( to register now.  See you at Glen Oaks in August! 

Still Time to Nominate Students for Business Horizons; Leadership Iowa University

The ABI Foundation’s Business Horizons program is a week-long entrepreneurial experience for high school students.  Each year, participants rave about their experience and learn about all the many career opportunities available to them right here in Iowa.  The 2024 session of the program will be held next week at Drake University in Des Moines.  There is still time to nominate students for the program and you can do so here: Nominate a Student | Iowa Association of Business and Industry (  

Following just a couple of weeks later is the Foundation’s Leadership Iowa University program.  You can also make nominations to this program.  The program, open to all Iowa College students (community college and four-year colleges alike), provides leadership and career development training and other opportunities to students in a week-long course.  The 2024 program will be held August 4-8 in Des Moines.  Go here for more information:  

And, if you have questions or wish to be involved in either program, please don’t hesitate to contact ABI Foundation Programs Director Jessi Steward McQuerry.  In the meantime, thanks to the many of you who have already nominated students for these terrific programs.

Pre-Employment Testing Webinar Series Coming in July, September, December

For years, ABI hosted a single day conference related to pre-employment testing.  After receiving feedback from members, that conference has been re-developed as a webinar series.  Webinars will be held on July 30th, September 17th, and December 10th and will last an hour.  Get the latest information and best practices when it comes to effective pre-employment testing and treated issues.  To learn more, click here: Summary - Pre-Employment Testing Process Webinar Series (

Help Set ABI Policy for 2025, Register Now for August Policy Committee Meetings

As noted previously, preparing ABI for 2025 has now moved to the annual policy committee stage.  Through the annual policy meetings, literally hundreds of ABI members will come together to shape the public policy agenda for the association for 2025.  You and your employees are key to the success of these meetings and it is not too early to get the meeting dates on your calendar.  Click here for more information or to register:  As always, you as board members will have the final say on ABI policies for 2025.  Final action will occur at the September meeting of the board.  

EPIC Sessions Continue

As you read last week, the 2024 sessions related to EPIC, Economic Progress for Iowa’s Citizens, have begun.  EPIC was created by ABI nearly 40 years ago.  It is still managed by ABI, and is a consortium of businesses and organizations interested in learning about candidates for state office and their views on business issues.  All candidates (regardless party) running in open seats are invited to participate in the EPIC process.  More EPIC session will be held Tuesday-Thursday of this week.  Thank you to all EPIC members and to participating candidates.  Thanks, too, to JD Davis, Brad Hartkopf, and Michelle Vollstedt for their work in managing EPIC. 

ABI Advisory Council Webinar July 31; ESOP 101: Options for Selling Your Business

Members of the ABI Advisory Council can be a great resource for your business.  In that regard, AC members have created a webinar to help you learn about options available to you as you contemplate transitioning your business to new ownership.  On July 31st, AC members will host an hour-long webinar that focuses on Employee Stock Ownership Plans as a potential transition method.  Click here for more information and to register: Advisory Council Webinar: ESOP 101: An Introduction to Options for Selling Your Business | Iowa Association of Business and Industry (  

NAM Report: Economy Slowing?

In last week’s Monday Economic Report, published by ABI partner the National Association of Manufacturers, signs of a slowing economy were highlighted.  The same report noted that durable goods orders were flat to slightly increased.  As always, there was lots of good information included in the report.  If you wish to read it for yourself, please reply to this memo and I will get it to you at once. 

AEM Tour Visits Vermeer Corporation

It was fun to be with two great ABI members in Pella last week.  The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (an ABI member) kicked off a national manufacturing tour last week and the second stop was at longtime ABI member Vermeer Corporation.  AEM is a terrific ABI partner and a strong resource for manufacturers.  The AEM tour, which made several stops in Iowa, will provide a months-long focus on American Manufacturing.

Another part of the Vermeer stop was highlighting the Vermeer ZR5-1200 Baler as the winner of ABI’s first Coolest Thing Made in Iowa competition.  It was a great event and thank you to Vermeer CEO Jason Andringa (Vermeer Corporation, Pella), ABI Board Member Mindi Vanden Bosh (Vermeer Corporation, Pella), Vermeer Chair Emerita and former ABI Chair Mary Andringa (Vermeer Corporation, Pella, master of ceremonies and frequent ABI program participant and contributor Daryl Bouwkamp (Vermeer Corporation, Pella), and everyone at Vermeer for a fun day.  Thanks, too, to ABI Director of Marketing and Communications Kelsey O’Connor, who shared remarks at the event!

Kelly Barrick Reappointed to State Board

It was great to see that Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds last week reappointed longtime ABI Board Member Kelly Barrick (CIBC Bank, West Des Moines) to the Iowa Workforce Development Board.  Kelly has long been a member and her leadership has helped the board to focus on best practices when it comes to serving employers and employees in or state.  Congratulations and thank you, Kelly! 

ABI also salutes longtime IWD board member (and former ABI Chair) Jack Hasken (Jackson Mfg., Maquoketa), who completed his service and leadership on the board.  Congratulations and thank you, Jack!