Great Conference - Monday Memo 6/19/22

June 19, 2023

Wow!  What a Conference!!

You are used to reading that exclamation in the first Monday Memo after the annual ABI Taking Care of Business Conference; that’s because every year it is appropriate.  It is perhaps more true this year than ever before… it was a fabulous conference! 

ABI members from across Iowa and from other parts of the nation converged on Cedar Rapids last week for the association’s 120th Annual Convention.  A great crowd, local hospitality, exciting venues, nationally-known speakers, and terrific events made the 2023 ABI Taking Care of Business Conference something very special.   

As you know, the annual convention is important to ABI for several reasons.  While the revenue raised by the convention is one of those, even more important is the event’s value as a source of programming and information for members.  And even more important than that, the annual convention helps continue ABI’s momentum and provides members and sponsors with the very best business networking in Iowa.  It is abundantly clear that this annual meeting achieved the convention committee’s goals related to revenue, programming, and networking. 

On behalf of the ABI Board of Directors, THANK YOU to all members, sponsors, and convention attendees for your time and support last week.  Special thanks go to ABI Chair Kim Augspurger (Pigott, Des Moines), a terrific conference committee chaired by Tami Anderson (Pigott, Des Moines), and to staff events leader Holly Mueggenberg.  Nicole Crain, Michelle Vollstedt, Kelsey O’Connor, Jessi McQuerrey, Michele Farrell, Jane Galloway, JD Davis, Brad Hartkopf, Levi Lefebure, and Kendall Antle also deserve special thanks.   

ABI members are off to a convention in another great city for the 2024 conference.  See you back in Davenport next June! 

Rich Phelan Elected New Chair of ABI

At the Annual Business Meeting held last Wednesday in Cedar Rapids, ABI members elected new officers and directors for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.  Rich Phelan (LyondellBasell, Clinton) was elected Chair, Chad Reese (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) was elected Vice Chair, Kellan Longenecker (General Mills, Avon) was elected Treasurer, and Kathryn Kunert (MidAmerican Energy Company, Des Moines) was elected Secretary.  Kim Augspurger (Pigott, Des Moines) is Immediate Past Chair.  

Other Executive Committee members were also elected, including returning members Stacey Pellett (John Deere, West Des Moines), Tim Bianco (Iowa Spring Manufacturing Company, Adel), and Kirk McCollough (Seneca Foundry, Webster City).  New committee members are Nate Weaton (Weaton Companies, Fairfield) and Tom Yeoman (Yeoman & Company, Monticello)

New board members from across the state were also elected and they will take office (along with the new officers and the new Executive Committee) on July 1.  Retiring board members have provided important leadership for ABI and they are recognized for their service.  The first Executive Committee of the new fiscal year will be held via Zoom on July 19th.  The first FY24 board meeting will be held on September 13th

Regarding our new Chair, Rich Phelan is a longtime ABI board member and a well-known Iowa business leader.  He represents one of North America’s largest petro-chemical plants, the LyondellBasell facility in Clinton.  Rich is a longtime civic leader in Clinton and is active on several boards and initiatives, both in Eastern Iowa and throughout the state.  Congratulations to Rich and to our other officers and directors! 

Governor Addresses Convention

Having the Governor of Iowa address the annual convention is an honored ABI tradition.  Last week, Governor Kim Reynolds addressed the convention and paid tribute to ABI member companies throughout Iowa.  It is always a treat to have the Governor with us.  Thank you to Governor Reynolds for joining us in Cedar Rapids.  

LI Class Graduates; Dan Culhane Named 2023 Leadership for Iowa Award Winner; 2023 Business Horizons Session Fast Approaching

At a ceremony held Thursday, members of the 2022-2023 Leadership Iowa Class graduated.  Class members have demonstrated a real commitment to continuing their leadership activities and it is clear that our state will benefit from these committed young leaders.  Congratulations to everyone! 

Prior to the LI ceremony, the Leadership for Iowa Award was presented to longtime Iowa leader Dan Culhane (Ames Chamber of Commerce, Ames).  ABI congratulates and sends best wishes to Dan. 

The focus of the ABI Foundation now shifts to the upcoming session of Business Horizons.  As you know, BH is a week-long entrepreneurial experience for Iowa high school students and this year’s session will take place next month on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines.  Please go to for more information. 

ABI Publishes Iowa HR Library

One of ABI’s popular services over the years has been to provide a library of reference books related to Human Resources and other issues.  The reference set is periodically updated and highlighted for those companies seeking such a resource and it is offered at a very nominal rate for ABI members.  For more information or to obtain a set of manuals, please contact the ABI office.  

Annual ABI Okoboji Executive Forum This Summer

Former ABI Chair Dennis Murdock (CIPCO, Des Moines) used to say that an official ABI conference had to be held in Okoboji.  Dennis relented in recent years, because as he told me, he enjoyed the ever-growing ABI conferences.  But ABI members still love the Iowa Great lakes. 

In response to the great many of you who asked for a Lakes-area event, ABI seven years ago created an executive forum.  The event, held at Okoboji, focuses on high-value programming for top executives.  It has been a huge success and it is one of ABI’s fastest-growing events. 

Plans are in place for another fabulous program.   CEO Ben McLean (Ruan, Des Moines) will keynote the event, which will be held August 3rd and 4th.  Register now at Summary - Executive Forum (Members Only) (  I look forward to seeing you there! 

ABI Leaders Highlighted in Business Record Article

Several ABI members were highlighted in a recent Business Record article.  These leaders, who just happen to be women, shared insights on the unique challenge and opportunity it is to work and lead in a family business.  Congratulations to ABI Board Members Heather Bruce (Osmundsen Mfg., Perry), Mary Landhuis (Lisle Corporation, Clarinda), and Mindi Vanden Bosch (Vermeer Corporation, Pella), and to another ABI leader, Emily Schmitt (Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield), on the great coverage and thank you for sharing your insights! 

The Business of ABI: Convention Edition

As you know, the metrics associated with ABI’s annual convention have been steadily growing over the past several years.  There is a very real momentum at ABI that ensures the association’s long and proud history is leading to an even stronger and more successful future.  Members tell me they can hardly wait until next year’s 121st Annual ABI Convention to see what will happen.  On behalf of Chair Kim Augspurger (Pigott, Des Moines) and soon-to-be Chair Rich Phelan (LyondellBasell, Clinton) and our other officers, THANK YOU for making the convention – and our association – so successful.