May Board Meeting Next Week - Monday Memo 5/1/23

May 1, 2023

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 Chair Kim Augspurger (Pigott, Des Moines) and the ABI Board of Directors will meet on Wednesday, May 10.  The meeting will begin with lunch at 11:30 a.m. at ABI member Express Logistics in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale.  Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird 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 Kim 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! 

Michele Farrell Joins ABI Staff Today

It was a month ago that I shared with you some exciting news.  Longtime ABI Board Member Michele Farrell (Measured Intentions, Urbandale) had agreed to join the ABI staff in a strategic new staff position, focused on member, investor, and organizational development (touching on both ABI and the ABI Foundation).  The big day is finally here, as Michele today joins the team as ABI Vice President, Member and Investor Relations. 

Michele is a terrific addition to the team and her background as a business owner, investor, and community leader gives her a perfect lens from which to advance ABI.  Further, her leadership in fundraising, her demonstrated commitment to ABI and the ABI Foundation, her personal work to build Elevate Iowa/Elevate Advanced Manufacturing, and so many other factors make her the perfect person for this new role.  When you see her at next week’s board meeting, please join us in welcoming Michele to the team!  

General Assembly Still Working, May Adjourn This Week; ABI Regional Meetings Ahead

As predicted in last week’s Monday Memo, the Iowa General Assembly has not adjourned for the year.  The big news is that legislative leaders seem to be serious about making a run at adjournment by the end of this week.   

If that prediction holds true, it means that ABI will soon begin the annual statewide regional policy tour.  Some of the meetings are already scheduled, but others will be added soon.  Please stay tuned and check the ABI Events web page often for updates:

Participation in the updates is open to ABI members and is free of charge.  

Let me end this by thanking ABI Vice President Public Policy JD Davis and 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.  Finally, let me also thank ABI Marketing and Communications Director Kelsey Smith, who is doing a fabulous job in helping ABI communicate related to its public policy work (and other things). Thank you, all! 

Final ABI Conference Site Visit Made; Don’t Miss Cy Wakeman, Other Keynoters

As you know, ABI Chair Kim Augspurger (Pigott, Des Moines) and conference Committee Chair Tami Anderson (Pigott, Des Moines) and a group from ABI made a final site visit to Cedar Rapids the week before last.  The trip marked the final tune-up in advance of the 2023 ABI Taking Care of Business Conference June 13-15. 

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 the Ellis Golf Course, and the very best business networking in Iowa are making this event the must-attend event of the summer.  Go here now to register:  

Speaking of the conference, recently some of us met (via Zoom) with the keynote speaker, Cy Wakeman of Reality-Based Leadership, and main stage speaker Ryan Anderson of MillerKnoll.  They were compelling, personable, engaging, and eager to be with us in Cedar Rapids.  I know they will deliver great remarks.  By the way, we will also soon meet virtually with our other main stage speaker, business and leadership expert Brandon Williams and I know he will also be terrific. 

And now let me end this by thanking ABI Director Membership Programs Director Holly Mueggenberg and Member Coordinator Levi Lefebure.  Holly leads events planning and Levi leads database and billing.  Both do absolutely terrific work and we appreciate it very, very much. 

Nominating Committee Meeting Held

Members of the 2023 ABI Nominating Committee met last week by Zoom.  Thank you to these ABI leaders for their important work.  Immediate Past ABI Chair Jack Hasken (Jackson Mfg., Maquoketa) also serves as Chair of the Nominating Committee.  The committee includes representatives of ABI’s Iowa districts.  Thank you to Jack and to these other ABI leaders for serving on the association's Nominating Committee: Liz Hobart (GROWMARK, Bloomington), Tim Conlon (Conlon Construction, Dubuque), Heather Bruce Osmundson Mfg., Perry), and Bill McKim (Midland Power, Boone).  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 with this year’s 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 Next Week in Burlington

The 2022-2023 Leadership Iowa class is nearing the end of its journey.  The class will meet again later next week in Burlington.  This month’s session will focus on manufacturing and transportation.  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. 

It is a busy time of year for the Foundation… and it will get even busier this summer.  Thank you to the fabulous team at the ABI Foundation: Director of Programs Jessi McQuerrey, Programs and Engagement Coordinator Kendall Antle, and Administrative Assistant Jane Galloway. 

ABI Okoboji Executive Forum Registration Opens Soon

ABI’s Okoboji Executive Forum returns this year and it does so in spectacular fashion.  This event seems to get better each year. 

We are close to finalizing another fantastic program for this event.  A compelling opening speaker, two terrific panels, a fabulous keynoter, an incredible dinner speaker, plus a behind-the-scenes talk about a great ABI member will all be a part of the agenda. 

Throw in the Lakes Region’s spectacular venues and that great Okoboji spirit 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 (Measured Intentions, Urbandale), Lori Schaefer-Weaton (Agri-Industrial Plastics, Fairfield), Mark Hanawalt (United Equipment Accessories, Waverly), and Paul Gregoire (Fisher -Emerson, Marshalltown).  

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.  

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 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 tweeting.  Every time you are at an ABI event of any kind, you can expect that someone is tweeting about it. 

As you know, ABI was one of the first organizations to embrace Twitter 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.  Twitter and other social media allow that to occur.  

If you want to follow ABI, go to and click on the bird that is the Twitter logo in the upper right-hand corner of the page (you will also see logos for other social media resources).  It will take you to the ABI Twitter homepage, where you can see that ABI has over 5,000 followers.  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. 

CIBC Economic Outlook Projects Some Pain, Followed by Gain

If you are like me, you enjoy seeing all the market data you can find.  Last week, longtime ABI Board Member Kelly Barrick (CIBC, West Des Moines) shared an interesting report regarding the CIBC outlook for the coming quarter.  The bottom line is contained in the update’s title, “No Pain, No Gain.”  In the video, CIBC economic officials discuss some troubling data, but ultimately project a stronger economy ahead.  If any of you would like to view the video for yourself, please reply to this message and I will get it you to at once.  In the meantime, thank you, Kelly, for sharing! 

ABI Members Invited to World Food Prize Event

ABI received a special message Friday afternoon inviting YOU to attend the World Food Prize Foundation 2023 Laureate Announcement on May 11 in Washington, DC.  U.S. Ambassador Terry E. Branstad will lead the event and he will be joined by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. 

The event will take place at the National Academy of Science in Washington at 10:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday, May 11.  A simple two-step process is required to attend.  If you are interested in participating, please reply to this message and I will get you the necessary information. 

NAM Report: Manufacturing Activity Rebounding

It’s another interesting Monday Economic Report, published today by the National Association of Manufacturers.  The headline is that manufacturing activity rebounded last month.  And again, though challenges abound, other data points also improved.  As always, please reply to this memo if you wish to read the report and I’ll get it to you at once. 

Diamond Vogel Acquires Wisconsin Manufacturer

It was fun last week to hear from a terrific ABI Board Member, Drew Vogel (Vogel Paint Company, Orange City).  And the news Drew shared was terrific, too, as Diamond Vogel has made another acquisition.  The company purchased N92-Menomonee Falls in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.  The company, a Sherwin-Williams subsidiary, has 100 employees and manufactures paint, custom aerosol, and other coatings.  This move allows Diamond Vogel to accelerate its aerosol growth strategy and adds capacity to Diamond Vogel’s already strong aerosol manufacturing capabilities. Click here for more: DiamondVogelAcquiresN92MenomoneeFalls.pdf.  Congratulations to Drew and everyone at Diamond Vogel on this exciting news! 

Bob Wersen: Caution Signs Out for China, Sales

Like most ABI members, former ABI Chair Bob Wersen (Interpower Corporation, Oskaloosa) is a very successful business person.  One of the factors involved in that success is Bob’s attention to details such as economic data.  Bob recently shared some very interesting information related to doing business in China (he is moving away from it, or has already) and about sales.  He notes some negativity in the Purchasing Managers Index that so many of you follow.  All in, some terrific information and he graciously agreed to share it.  If you are interested in it, let me know and I’ll get it to you, and in the meantime, thank you, Bob! 

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 Wednesday; happy birthday, John! 

Jan Meek Joins Great Grandparent Club

As you know, Jan Meek was a key member of the ABI staff for decades and I am so glad that she stays in touch.  Jan shared some very special news last week, as she and husband Bob Meek have become great grandparents for the first time.  Jan shared that their only granddaughter, Madi, and her husband, Mel, are brand new parents of Benjamin Oliver, a big healthy boy.  Jan reports that she and Bob can’t wait to babysit.  This is terrific news and ABI sends hearty congratulations to Jan and Bob and their entire family!