May Board Meeting Next Week - Monday Memo 4/29/24

April 29, 2024

Board to Convene Next Week

Strong participation is expected when you and your fellow members of the ABI Board of Directors convene for the May meeting next week.  ABI Vice Chair Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) and the board will meet on Wednesday, May 8.  The meeting will begin with lunch at 11:30 a.m. at ABI member Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Des Moines.  Iowa Adjutant General Stephen E. Osborn will address the board during the meeting.  

All board members are invited to join ABI for the meeting, which will mark the board’s final regular meeting of the fiscal year.  You will receive the usual packet of meeting materials in an email message from me later this week.  In the meantime and on behalf of Chad and our other officers, thank you in advance for your participation in the meeting. 

Allow me to close by thanking ABI Executive Administrative Assistant Michelle Vollstedt.  She leads ABI’s administrative work and serves as the contact for the board of directors and does terrific work. Thank you, Michelle! 

ABI Regional Policy Meetings Ahead

Now that the Iowa General Assembly has adjourned for the year, ABI will soon begin the annual statewide regional policy tour.  Meetings are already scheduled, and will be held in Ames, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Le Mars, and Waterloo.  Please check the ABI Events web page to register and find more information:  Participation in the updates is open to ABI members and is free of charge.  

Let me end this note by thanking ABI Vice President Public Policy JD Davis and Senior Director Public Policy Brad Hartkopf.  JD and Brad are terrific at what they do and they work hard to well represent ABI members.  They have been putting in some long hours at the Statehouse.  Thank you, fellows! 

Coolest Thing Made in Iowa Drawing Strong Participation; Voting Ongoing

In last week’s memo, I noted that voting was now open related to ABI’s newest initiative, the Coolest Thing Made in Iowa.  The competition, a partnership with longtime member MidWestOne Bank, showcases the Iowa manufacturing industry’s best innovations, craftsmanship, and state of the art technologies.  Nominated products have received literally thousands of votes in the last week!    Click here for more information and to vote right now: Coolest Thing Made in Iowa (!  This initiative has already brought a lot of attention to ABI members (and others) and to ABI itself.  Thank you to ABI Marketing and Communications Director Kelsey O’Connor for her terrific leadership on this project!  And congratulations to Kelsey, who was selected by the National Association of Manufacturers to be a part of program on Effective Content and Advocacy Strategies for Social Media Engagement which will be held Wednesday. 

Final ABI Conference Site Visit Made; Don’t Miss Lesa France Kennedy, Tommy Spaulding, Frank Kelly, and So Much More

As you know, ABI Vice Chair Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) and a group from ABI made a final site visit to Davenport the week before last.  The trip marked the final tune-up in advance of the 2024 ABI Taking Care of Business Conference June 4-6. 

Ladies and gentlemen, this will be a fabulous event and you simply do not want to miss it.  We are experiencing a record in terms of folks registering for the conference and there is a ton of interest in the event.  A packed, high-value agenda, terrific venues, golf at TPC Deere Run (, and the very best business networking in Iowa are making this event the must-attend event of the year.  Go here now to register:  Well over 300 of you are already registered! 

Speaking of the conference, some of us are meeting (via Zoom) with our keynote speakers, Lesa France Kennedy, Tommy Spaulding, and Frank Kelly.  These folks are compelling, personable, engaging, and eager to be with us in Davenport.  I know they will deliver great remarks.  

And now let me end this by thanking ABI Senior Director Member Programs Holly Mueggenberg, who leads events planning and ensures, through her expertise and diligence each year, that the conference is a fabulous event.  Thank you, Holly! 

Nominating Committee Meets Tomorrow

Members of the 2024 ABI Nominating Committee will meet tomorrow by Zoom.  Thank you to these ABI leaders for their important work.  Immediate Past ABI Chair Kim Augspurger (Pigott, Des Moines - ret.) also serves as Chair of the Nominating Committee.  The committee includes representatives of ABI’s Iowa districts.  Thank you to Kim and to these other ABI leaders for serving on the association's Nominating Committee:  Jenny Steffensmeier (Steffensmeier Welding and Manufacturing, Pilot Grove),  Gretchen Spear (International Paper, Cedar Rapids), Stacey Pellett (John Deere, Urbandale), Mary Landhuis (Lisle Corporation, Clarinda), and Stephen Anderson (Merrill Manufacturing, Storm Lake).  You will see the fruits of their labor at the annual business meeting held on Wednesday of the Taking Care of Business Conference.  Thank you again for a job well done. 

Thanks, too, to ABI Executive Vice President Nicole Crain, who helped lead the nominating process.  You know that Nicole has a broad portfolio at ABI and leads our accounting, finance, and HR functions.  She’s great at it and thank you, Nicole! 

Leadership Iowa Meets this Week in Forest City

The 2023-2024 Leadership Iowa class is nearing the end of its journey.  The class will meet again later this week in Forest City.  This month’s session will focus on economic development and workforce.  The class has enjoyed strong participation and will graduate from the program in June at the annual conference.  Watch for more news as it develops.  In the meantime, thank you to ABI Director of Foundation Programs Jessi McQuerrey for her terrific work in managing the LI program each year!Thank you, too, to Programs and Engagement Coordinator Kendall Antle, who assists with LI and other Foundation programs. 

It is a busy time of year for the Foundation… and it will get even busier this summer.  By the way, watch for more information about the annual auction that benefits ABI Foundation programs.  Always held in conjunction with the annual Taking Care of Business Conference, it is a fun and important event.  In addition to helping with ABI Foundation programs, thank you to Administrative Assistant Jane Galloway, who leads work related to the auction. 

ABI Executive Forum Registration Opens Soon

ABI’s Executive Forum returns this year and it moves to a more central location, Mason City/Forest City.  This event seems to get better each year. 

We are close to finalizing another fantastic program for this event.  A compelling opening speaker, a great panel of ABI board members, a fabulous keynoter, two terrific manufacturing tours, and more will all be a part of the agenda. 

Throw in brand new north Iowa-area venues, and you get an event you don’t want to miss.  Look for more information and registration to be available soon. 

ABI Manufacturers Featured on Elevate Iowa Website

Each May, we update you on the status of Elevate Iowa.  Elevate is ABI's program to raise the profile of manufacturing jobs in our state and to connect Iowans with training and with jobs.  Board leadership for Elevate has been well-provided by ABI leaders Michele Farrell (ConnectifyHR, Des Moines), Lori Schaefer-Weaton (Agri-Industrial Plastics, Fairfield), Mark Hanawalt (United Equipment Accessories, Waverly), and Paul Gregoire (Fisher -Emerson, Marshalltown – ret.).  

Remember that Elevate features ABI/Iowa manufacturing companies on its website under its “Made in Iowa” section.  This page educates Iowans about the many exciting opportunities available at Iowa’s advanced manufacturing companies.  The goal is to ultimately connect these Iowans with companies like yours.  Please follow this link: and click on the link to the "Made in Iowa form" under "Share your Company Story".  We can also provide examples of other company profiles if you wish.  

Finally, now is the time to nominate Iowa students for an Elevate community college scholarship.  To do so, go to the Elevate web page or reply to this memo. 

Consultants Help Advance ABI

Over the years, you have heard us talk about individuals who work for ABI on contract.  For many years, Kerry Servas has been an ABI membership consultant.  We are grateful to Kerry for her help. 

Another consultant helps advance our communications and marketing efforts.  She, too, is doing terrific work.  Thank you to Katelyn Adams, who has been a value-added addition to the ABI team and we appreciate her work very much. 

ABI Staff Members and X (formerly Twitter)

Whether it is during a legislative committee hearing, a manufacturing meeting, an association conference, or at some other event, you might see ABI staffers busily typing away on their mobile devices.  They aren't ignoring the proceedings, they're posting information on X, the social media platform formerly knowns as Twitter.  Every time you are at an ABI event of any kind, you can expect that someone is posting about it. 

As you know, ABI was one of the first organizations to embrace X and other social media and our members say they want more of it.  Just like your business, we want our customers (our members) to have access to the very latest information about what is happening at a given meeting.  X and other social media platforms allow that to occur.  

If you want to follow ABI, go to and click on the various social media icons in the upper right-hand corner of the page.  By the way, ABI has over 5,000 followers on X!  You can follow ABI's general account and the accounts of several ABI staffers (including me).  If you need help, reply to this email and I'll ask a staffer to get in touch with you. 

By the way, I would note that ABI Member Services Coordinator Levi Lefebure is one of the team’s great social media experts.  In addition to leading database and billing work, Levi is great at sharing information.  Thank you, Levi!  

NAM Report: Durable Goods Orders Rise

In last Wednesday’s edition of “Input,” the daily newsletter from the National Association of Manufacturers, it was reported that manufactured durable goods orders rose last month by 2.6 percent.  That is a solid increase after a down month in February.  Please reply to this memo if you wish to read the report and I’ll get it to you at once. 

Weaton Companies Named Manufacturer of the Year

In front of a capacity crowd at the Annual Awards Dinner of ABI member Grow Fairfield, held last Thursday evening at the Fairfield Convention Center, longtime ABI member Weaton Companies was honored as the town’s Manufacturer of the Year.  Fairfield is a true Iowa manufacturing center, with dozens of manufacturing companies in the area, so this honor is a very big deal.  ABI couldn’t be happier for Weaton Companies and we salute everyone there, including ABI Board Member and Executive Committee (and company founder and CEO) Nate Weaton (Weaton Companies, Fairfield)!  Congratulations, Nate and team! 

Plant Expansion Underway at Atlantic Bottling

The largest plant expansion in two decades is now underway at the Atlantic plant of longtime ABI member Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company.  The plant is one of the largest beverage producers in the Midwest and will get even bigger as a result of this project.  In fact, a major upgrade will provide a 20-percent gain in speed in product production at the plant.  A new high-speed palletizer, new conveyors, expansion into a new room, and more are a part of the project.  Congratulations to everyone at the company on this big news, including ABI Board Member and CEO Rob Feeney (Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Des Moines) and Chairman and former ABI Chair Kirk Tyler (Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Des Moines)

SA Completes Renovation of West Des Moines Headquarters

Another longtime ABI member, Strategic America, has also reinvested in its facilities.  SA just announced completion of a major renovation of its headquarters in West Des Moines.  The renovation will allow the company, one of Iowa’s largest full-service marketing and advertising agencies, to better serve clients and employees.  Congratulations to everyone at SA, including President/CEO and former ABI Board Member John Schreurs (Strategic America, West Des Moines) and Chairman MikeSchreurs (Strategic America, West Des Moines)

John Butler Marks Birthday

Former ABI Chair John Butler (Cottingham & Butler, Dubuque) was a great leader for the association and he continues to be an important business leader for Iowa.  John is celebrating his birthday this Friday, May 3rd; happy birthday, John! 

Editor’s Note

You have probably figured out by now that one of my goals this week was to mention every member of the team by name.  There is one more to mention and this is our newest team member, ABI Vice President Strategic Initiatives and Member Engagement Meg Schneider.  Meg joined ABI last week to great acclaim.  We are excited to have Meg with us and you will have an opportunity to meet her soon. 

For now, let me say again what I have said many times before.  ABI is fortunate have on staff a group of talented professionals, who work hard every day to advance the association and its members.  I am deeply grateful to work with them and for you.  I know they join me in thanking YOU for your leadership and support.