It's a Wrap - Monday Memo 6/10/24

June 10, 2024

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 the Quad Cities last week for the association’s 121st Annual Convention.  A great crowd, local hospitality, exciting venues, nationally-known speakers, and terrific events made the 2024 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-Elect Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City), a terrific conference committee, and to staff events leader Holly Mueggenberg.  Nicole Crain, Michelle Vollstedt, Kelsey O’Connor, Jessi McQuerrey, Jane Galloway, JD Davis, Brad Hartkopf, Levi Lefebure, Meg Schneider, Kendall Antle, and intern Olivia Jones also deserve special thanks.   

ABI members are off to a convention in another great city for the 2025 conference.  See you in Council Bluffs next June!

Chad Reece Elected New Chair of ABI

At the Annual Business Meeting held last Thursday in Davenport, ABI members elected new officers and directors for the 2024-2025 fiscal year.  Chad Reese (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) was elected Chair, Kellan Longenecker (General Mills, Avon) was elected Vice Chair, Kathryn Kunert (MidAmerican Energy Company, Des Moines) was elected Treasurer, and Tim Bianco (Iowa Spring, Adel) was elected Secretary.  

Other Executive Committee members were also elected, including returning members Nate Weaton (Weaton Companies, Fairfield) and Tom Yeoman (Yeoman & Company, Monticello).  New Executive Committee Members include Hank Norem (Ramco Innovations, West Des Moines), Kelli O’Brien (Union Pacific, Omaha), and Lelsey Bartholomew (Wells Enterprises, Le Mars)

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 17th.  The first FY24 board meeting will be held on September 11th

Regarding our new Chair, Chad Reece is a longtime ABI board member and a well-known Iowa business leader.  He represents one of Iowa’s iconic manufacturers, Winnebago Industries.  Chad is a longtime civic leader in North Iowa and is active on several boards and initiatives, both in Iowa and nationally in the industry.  Congratulations to Chad and to our other officers/directors! 

Coolest Thing Initiative is a Huge Success

Yet another highlight of the annual conference was the culmination of the first Coolest Thing Made in Iowa campaign.  Watch for news of the incredible reach that was a part of Coolest Thing; it is clear that the  goal of highlighting Iowa’s great manufacturers was certainly accomplished.  For now, congratulations to ABI member Vermeer Corporation, winners of the Coolest Thing Made in Iowa: the ZR5-1200 Self-Propelled Baler!  Check here for more: Coolest Thing Made in Iowa (  

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 Davenport.  

LI Class Graduates; Joseph Jones Named 2024 Leadership for Iowa Award Winner; 2024 Business Horizons Session Fast Approaching

At a ceremony held Thursday, members of the 2023-2024 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 Joseph Jones.  ABI congratulates and sends best wishes to Joseph. 

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. 

Next ABI Automation Summit Set for Fort Dodge Later This Month

The next in the very popular series of ABI Automation Summits will be held at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge on June 20th.  Click here to register and to find more information: Summary - Automation Summit (  The summits are an easy and cost effective way for you and your team to learn about the benefits of automation and what is involved in gearing up (or expanding) your automation programs.  See you in Fort Dodge later this month. 

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 the manuals, please contact the ABI office.  

Annual ABI Executive Forum This Summer

In response to the great many of you who asked for it, ABI eight years ago created an executive forum.  The event, held this year in Mason City, 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.   Former ABI Chair and company Chair Emeritus Mary Andringa (Vermeer Corporation, Pella) will keynote the event, which will be held August 8th and 9th.  Register and find more information here:  I look forward to seeing you there! 

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 122nd Annual ABI Convention to see what will happen.  On behalf of Chair Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) and our other officers, THANK YOU for making the convention – and our association – so successful. 

ABI Operating Mission (with thanks to NASCAR): Serve Members, Add New Members

Speaking of the annual conference, there were three terrific keynote speakers and each of them shared information of value.  One note from the session featuring NASCAR Executive Vice Chair Lesa France Kennedy really struck home with me.  The NASCAR mission statement is succinct and profound: “Serve our fans and add new fans.”  That sums up our job on the ABI staff and it is the focus of what we do every day… we seek to serve our members and add new members.  All of us on staff are deeply grateful to all of you for that opportunity.  And if there is something you believe we can do to better serve you, please let us hear from you!