Governor to Keynote USMCA Event - Monday Memo 8/24/20

August 24, 2020

Governor Reynolds to Keynote ABI-Canada-Mexico USMCA Event Next Week

ABI members value the longstanding relationship between the association and the Office of the Consul General of Canada in Minneapolis.  A great member/partner, the Consul General’s Office has been a key resource for Iowa companies in managing trade issues between Canada and Iowa. 

Both the Consul General and ABI worked hard for passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement passed by Congress and signed by the President.  And, to ensure that the agreement is providing a return for all involved, ABI is excited to partner with the Office of Counsel General on a trade discussion.  Mexican officials will also participate in this event. 

We are also excited that Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has agreed to keynote the event.  The trade discussion will be held a week from tomorrow, on Tuesday, September 1 from 1:30 to 3:00 in the afternoon.  In addition to the Governor, several high-ranking officials will speak.  Go now to to find more information and to register.  There is no charge for this event. 

2020 ABI Executive Open Week from Today

One of the most popular of events hosted by the association each year is the annual ABI Executive Open.  The 2020 Open will be held a week from today at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in West Des Moines. 

While the Open will certainly be different this year (one golfer per cart, set tee times instead of a shotgun start, no reception, etc.) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is proving just as popular as ever.  Though it is nearly sold out, there is still time to register and play.  Click here to do so:  See you next week! 

Board to Meet September 10 by Zoom

As you know, ABI Chair Steven Bradford (HNI Corporation, Muscatine) and members of the association’s Board of Directors will convene September 10th for the first meeting of the fiscal year.  This is an important meeting and the board will be asked to consider and act on several issues.  

The board will meet by Zoom.  The agenda is a full one, with several issues to be considered.  Be on the lookout for a board packet to arrive in your email in-basket around September 3.  The agenda will include action on the association’s 2021 policy recommendations, program reports, and other important issues.  

Many of you have already registered for the board meeting.  If you have not already done so, you can register by simply replying to this memorandum.  Your participation in this meeting is important and on behalf of Steven and our other officers, thank you in advance for attending. 

New Board Members to Attend First Meeting

This September meeting of the ABI Board of Directors will mark the first for newly-elected directors.  Thus, you will have the opportunity to meet the new board members and welcome them to the board.  

Joining the board this year are Tim Coonan (Davis Brown Law Firm, Des Moines), Robert Feeney (Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Des Moines), Adam Steen (Syverson Strege, West Des Moines) and the honorary Leadership Iowa board representative, Jenny Steffensmeier (Steffensmeier Welding & Manufacturing, Pilot Grove).  Congratulations again to these incoming leaders. 

Legislative Committee to Meet

The ABI Legislative Committee, chaired by ABI Vice Chair Jack Hasken (Jackson Manufacturing, Maquoketa), will meet Wednesday by Zoom.  The meeting will mark the second-to-last step in the annual policy development process. 

Following on the many meetings held before it, the meeting will result in a final set of policies being developed for action by you and your fellow board members next month.  Look for the final policy draft in your September board packet. 

Thursday’s Business Record Manufacturing Event, Sponsored by ABI, Will Feature Kirk Tyler, Kellan Longenecker, Eric Lohmeier

As you have read in the last couple of editions, ABI is pleased to be working with a great member/partner, the Des Moines Business Record, on an event that highlights Iowa manufacturing.  It will take place this Thursday, August 27th. 

The Business Record’s “Made in Iowa: Manufacturing Forecast Event” will feature three ABI board members: Kellan Longenecker (General Mills, Avon), Eric Lohmeier (NCP, Des Moines), and former ABI Chair Kirk Tyler (Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Des Moines) – that’s terrific panel!  I will also participate on behalf of ABI.  Find more information and register now at  

Lamons, ABI Leaders Highlight Annual ABI Advanced Manufacturing Conference

ABI is pleased to present the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Conference 2020.  The conference will be held by Zoom on September 30th.  

The speakers for this event are terrific.  The keynote speaker for the event is Matthew Lamons, nationally known author and consultant.  He is tailoring his remarks specifically for ABI and especially for the challenges being faced by ABI members, from pandemics to disaster recovery.  You will find real value in his comments. 

And, many of you have told me you are already looking forward to the final event of the day, a panel featuring three highly successful ABI leaders: former ABI Chair Lori Schaefer-Weaton (Agri-Industrial Plastics Company, Fairfield) and ABI Board Members Mary Landhuis (Lisle Corporation, Clarinda) and Molly Varangkounh (Hy-Capacity, Humboldt).  This panel is sure to be fabulous and you do not want to miss it.  Find more information and register now for the conference by clicking on this link:  

Episode 34 of Iowa Business Report Radio Program Features Mary Landhuis

The Iowa Business Report’s 34th episode was broadcast over the weekend.  If you missed it, you can click here to listen for yourself:  Links can also be found on the ABI website at  The show is the result of a great partnership between well-known Iowa broadcaster Jeff Stein and ABI. 

Included in this week’s episode is an interview with ABI Board Member Mary Landhuis (Lisle Corporation, Clarinda).  It is always great to hear the Lisle Story.  It is one that focuses on innovation and quality, on growth through acquisition, and on taking care of employees, customers, and community.  With this interview, I did learn about something with regard to the Lisle Company that I did not know… I learned about a product called the hog oiler (later the Swine-Ezer).  Thanks to Mary, I have photographic evidence of this once key product and I’ll share it if you wish to see it.  Thank you to Mary and Jeff for the great interview! 

Belated Happy Birthday to Steve Jacobs

I don’t know how I did it, but I missed the birthday of a terrific ABI leader.  Happy belated birthday to longtime ABI Board Member Steve Jacobs (BCC Advisers, Des Moines).  Steve was too gracious to let me know about it, but thankfully, a source let me know of my error.  Here’s hoping it was great day, Steve, and THANK YOU for your support and leadership! 

Senator Grassley Visits CemenTech

As I often point out in these memos, the most important thing you can do to help advance ABI’s public policy agenda is to host elected officials at your plant or office.  Show them your operations and have them meet your employees.  Explain to them how their policies impact your business. 

The good news is that ABI members across the state do this on a regular basis.  One recent example is ABI member CemenTech, who two weeks ago hosted U.S. Senator Charles Grassley at its Indianola plant.  Thank you to the team at CemenTech, including company president and ABI Board Member Connor Deering (CemenTech, Indianola) for the event! 

NAM Report: Housing Strong, Manufacturing Improving

Today’s Monday Economic Report, published by the National Association of Manufacturers, led with a story about the strength of the housing market.  Both new construction and sales are soaring.  Other good news came in the fact that manufacturing activity is improving.  If you wish to read the report for yourself, simply reply to this message and I’ll get it to you. 

The Business of ABI

Editor's Note: I have been including this item at the end of August for the past couple of years, because I am told that it is useful for newly-elected board members to see.  In case that is accurate, here it is once again.

As those of you have been reading these memos for years know, from time to time, I include an item called "the Business of ABI," in which I discuss a data point, or a metric, or some other issue related to how ABI itself runs its business.  I haven't done that for a while and because so many of the association's new board members asked about ABI's operating business, I thought I would share some comments about that this week.  Here are some things I know: 

First, I never forget that ABI really IS a business.  We have customers, we just happen to call them members.  If we aren't providing value to you, we aren't doing our job and there is no reason for you to invest in ABI.  The good news is that, thanks to you, ABI does provide value. 

Second, I know there are three reasons for ABI's success.  The first is because of terrific support from businesses literally in every corner of this state.  ABI is Iowa's oldest and largest statewide business organization and that support makes possible everything we do.  The second reason for success is great leadership from the ABI Board of Directors.  That is not simple rhetoric; your leadership has resulted in tangible and measurable improvements in ABI.  The third factor in ABI's success is due to great work by a staff focused on implementing the vision you set for us each year.  

Finally, I have been asked about my focus at ABI when I started 15 years ago.  I was excited then to get to work for and with some terrific people.  I am still excited about that today and each day I commute to Des Moines thinking about what can be done THIS day to make ABI better. 

Many of you already know the story; it seemed to me back in 2005 there were so many things that needed addressing, I had to find a way to focus.  So, I came up with a plan called "It's as Simple as ABC."  "A" stood for accountability in decision-making and results.  It seemed like that had been lacking and we needed to instill it from the top (the board of directors) down (the staff). 

"B" stood for balance sheet.  ABI's balance sheet was a mess.  We were spending more than we were bringing in and there was no focus on our cash position or on program metrics.  "C" stood for communication.  There was not a lot of communication between board members, between the board and the staff, or between staff.  

The data shows that all of these areas have been addressed.  And again, that is due to great leadership from you and hard work on the part of the board and members and staff.  I am eager for ABI's new board members to have the opportunity to see this first-hand and to work with you who have been on the board for some years.  

The strength of ABI is its members.  If ABI can continue to build an association as great as those members, another 117 years of success is in the bag.  THANK YOU for your support of ABI.