It's Conference Week! - Monday Memo 6/12/23

June 12, 2023

It's Here; 120th Annual ABI Convention Starts Tomorrow!

The 120th Annual ABI Convention, the 2023 Taking Care of Business Conference, kicks-off tomorrow.  The conference begins with golf at Ellis Golf Course and other activities around Cedar Rapids.  The annual Gala Welcome Reception will be held tomorrow evening at the terrific EASTBANK Venue in downtown Cedar Rapids. 

By the way, as I type this, over 500 people are set to attend the conference; but if you haven’t registered, it's not a problem.  Email me now or just show up and we’ll take care of you.  On behalf of ABI Chair Kim Augspurger (Pigott, Des Moines) and our other officers, we look forward to seeing you in Cedar Rapids! 

Governor Reynolds to Address ABI Conference-Goers Wednesday

ABI was among the very first organizations Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds addressed after becoming governor.  Governor Reynolds will again address ABI members at the annual conference this year, during Wednesday’s luncheon session.  She is a great friend to ABI and we look forward to Governor Reynolds joining us again this year. 

Association Headquarters Closing for the Week Later Today

Due to the annual conference, the ABI headquarters in Des Moines will be closed later today through Friday.  Please don’t hesitate to contact staff members by email (we receive our email messages on our phones) or cell phone if you need assistance of any kind.  We look forward to being back in the office – and celebrating the completion of a great convention – bright and early a week from today. 

Jacobs, Landhuis, Deering on the Cover of the June Edition of ABI Business Monthly; Lohman to Speak at Conference

ABI members around Iowa have shared with us that they enjoy the brand new ABI Business Monthly publication that ABI produces in conjunction with the Corridor Business Journal and the Quad Cities Business Journal.  This newsprint product is produced twice-monthly and goes to a statewide distribution list. 

The June edition of the Business Monthly should have hit your mailbox last week, or will sometime early this week.  You will also find copies of the newsprint magazine at this week’s annual ABI conference.  Just look for the cover photo of ABI Board Members Steve Jacobs (BCC Advisers, Des Moines), Mary Landhuis (Lisle Corporation, Clarinda), and Connor Deering (CemenTech, Indianola)

Speaking of the new publication, it would not be possible except for an exciting partnership with longtime ABI member John Lohman (Corridor Media Group, North Liberty).  You will have a chance to meet John when he speaks at lunch on Wednesday of the conference.

Annual ABI Policy Tour Nearing Completion

Starting with a meeting in Council Bluffs last month, and after making additional stops in Fort Dodge, Sioux Center, and LeClaire, the annual ABI Regional Public Policy Tour is nearing completion.  The final session will take place in Des Moines on June 23rd (find more information here: 2023 Regional Public Policy Meeting - Des Moines | Iowa Association of Business and Industry (  

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:  

Board to Elect Officers for FY24

Thursday, all board members and former board chairs should have received an email message that included several documents related to the annual conference.  That message also highlighted the fact that the ABI Board of Directors will hold its final meeting of the association’s 2022-2023 fiscal year during the annual business meeting at the conference on Wednesday.  The board will hold the traditional 60-second meeting to elect officers. 

The previously-mentioned message shared the monthly financial report, FY24 meeting schedule, and the 2023 Nominating Committee report.  Thank you to Nominating Committee Chair (and Immediate Past ABI Chair) Jack Hasken (Jackson Manufacturing, Maquoketa) and committee members Liz Hobart (GROWMARK, Bloomington), Tim Conlon (Conlon Construction, Dubuque), Heather Bruce Osmundson Mfg., Perry), and Bill McKim (Midland Power, Boone).  

With one month to go in ABI’s fiscal year, the May financial report shows that ABI will end another year well in the black and continue a lengthy string of successful years.  I take very seriously your charge to me related to strong financial performance and I am very proud of ABI’s record in that regard.  Thank you to ABI Chair Kim Augspurger (Pigott, Des Moines) and to all of you for your leadership, which is responsible for that success. 

Terrific Foundation Auction Items

Each year, the ABI Foundation holds an auction in conjunction with the Taking Care of Business Conference.  There are always many terrific items available and as I have noted the post couple of weeks, this year is no exception.  Also as noted in previous editions of this memorandum, this year, the event will take place from June 5-14 in a silent auction format.  

Don’t miss it!  Bidding will conclude on June 14 at 9:00 p.m. Please click this link for more information: 2023 ABI Foundation Auction | 32auctions.  All the proceeds from the auction go to benefit the programs of the ABI Foundation and Iowans who participate in them.  Thank you in advance for your support. 

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! 

If Housing is an Issue for Your Employees and Your Community, Read This

Many ABI members have become leaders related to issues that never used to be considered “business” issues.  Expanding childcare options, creating access to healthcare, providing transportation, and developing housing are just a few examples of these types of issues. 

In that regard, the ABI newsletter of June 2nd carried an important story related to housing.  Taking advantage of this program might be just what your company - and your community - needs.  Longtime ABI member Hubbell Realty Company (though its Hubbell Homes and Origin Homes subsidiaries) is a participant in the program and you can read all about it here: Why consider a Rural Home Loan with USDA? | Iowa Association of Business and Industry (  Please let me know if you have further questions and we’ll connect you to Hubbell. 

Get Your Students Registered for Business Horizons Now

The ABI Foundation's Business Horizons program has been phenomenally successful, literally changing the lives of Iowa's young people over the years.  The 2023 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 daughters and sons of your employees.  It's free and it won't take long to do it.  Please click here:  Thank you for your help! 

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 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. 

Dan Culhane 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. 

As you read last week, the award will be presented to longtime Iowa leader Dan Culhane, the leader of the Ames Chamber of Commerce and Ames Economic Development Commission.  Dan is a terrific leader and is well-deserving of the award.  Congratulations, Dan! 

Agri Celebrates 45 Big Years

It was fun to learn that another terrific ABI member company is celebrating a big anniversary in 2023.  Agri-Industrial Plastics Company marked 45 years of growth and success last Friday!  

The company was started by former ABI Board Member Dick Smith (Agri-Industrial Plastics Company, Fairfield) in 1978 and has been serving customers across the county ever since.  The company is now led by Former ABI Chair Lori Schaefer-Weaton (Agri-Industrial Plastics Company, Fairfield) and just like her father, Lori is leading Agri to successful new heights.  Congratulations to Dick, Lori, and everyone at Agri!  Here’s to 45 more years of growth! 

Stellar, SA Highlighted in Magazine Article

I’m grateful to longtime ABI Board Member Peter Voorhees (Standard Golf Company, Cedar Falls) for sending an article he read in a magazine published recently by the University of Northern Iowa.  In the article, which is focused on the benefits of operating under an employee stock ownership plan, two ABI member companies are highlighted: Stellar Industries and Strategic America

Stellar has worked hard at its ESOP implementation and has experienced great success.  SA is still in process with its ESOP implementation, but it, too, is seeing progress.  Former ABI Chair David Zrostlik (Stellar Industries, Garner) and company president Mike Schreurs (Strategic America, West Des Moines) are featured in the article, which is a brief review of the benefits of an ESOP.  If you wish to read it, let me know and I’ll send it to you.  For now, thanks again to Peter and congratulations on great coverage to Dave and Mike! 

Deere Economist: Soft Landing or Shallow Recession Ahead

Over the years, the economics team at longtime ABI member John Deere has been a solid prognosticator when it comes to trends and developments.  That’s one reason it was so interesting to hear remarks last week by Dr.Kanlaya Barr, Director of Economics for John Deere.  There is good news ahead, she predicted. 

Speaking at the Corridor Business Journal Mid-Year Economic Review, Dr. Barr shared five key takeaways related to the global economy.  She believes 1) things could get worse before they get better, 2) the much ballyhooed soft landing is likely, or at worst, a shallow, short-lived recession is coming, 3) farm income will moderate but will still be above long-term averages, 4) weather will have the final say, and 5) there are of course many risks due to geopolitics and volatility. 

On the very day Dr. Barr shared her remarks, I heard on the radio that a Wells Fargo economist shared much the same thing at a separate conference (that company has also had a strong track record on economic predictions).  All in all, not a bad report as ABI members seek to manage their businesses in the coming quarter. 

NAM Report: Not Enough Workers

You all know I am a fan of the National Association of Manufacturers.  The NAM does solid work and adds value to manufacturers all across our nation.  Their publications and reports are almost required-reading, as they do a terrific job of providing key information.  However, I have to admit that I was surprised by the focus of a recent report related to workforce.  The news: There aren’t enough manufacturing workers in our country.  You can read it for yourself here: