November Board Meeting Next Week - Monday Memo 11/6/23

November 6, 2023

Board Meets A Week from Wednesday; Guests, Board Election on Agenda

The ABI Board of Directors and the ABI Executive Committee will meet next week.  ABI Vice Chair Chad Reese (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) will call to order the final board meeting of 2023 at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 15.  The board will meet at ABI and the traditional Thanksgiving lunch will be served.  

A review of the annual audit, an update regarding the conference, policy discussions, and your business reports are highlights of the agenda.  In addition, the board will receive the usual operational reports.  

A couple of special features will make the meeting even more topical.  Two new board members will be elected to fill unexpired terms.  And, special guest Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver will address the board.  

If you haven't already done so, please register your attendance by simply replying to this message.  You will receive a message from me later this week that will include a link to access the usual packet of reports and reference materials related to the meeting.  In the meantime and on behalf of Chad and our ABI officers, I look forward to seeing you next week. 

Michele Farrell to Leave ABI

ABI Vice President, Member and Investor Relations Michele Farrell will be leaving the association staff to join an ABI member company in an executive role.  Further, Michele will have an ownership role with this company, something that is of course of great benefit to her.  She will have an opportunity to help her company and its employees, while also investing in her future.  Michele shared with me that this decision was extremely difficult, as her passion for ABI runs deep (I know that to be true). 

Michele joined ABI May 1st and has excelled in her role.  Michele is a terrific person and she has added great value to ABI; we will miss her deeply.  Even so, we are excited for her and wish her the best.  As ABI Vice Chair Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) noted, while the timing isn’t perfect, when ABI has good people on staff, they will have opportunities.  This is good news for Michele and an opportunity for ABI to find that next terrific staff person.  ABI Executive Vice President Nicole Crain and I have already begun that process and we will keep you fully informed along the way. 

Michele will be on staff through November 17th (and has agreed to help out even after that date), so you will have an opportunity to give her your good wishes at the board meeting on November 15th.  For now, we wish Michele the very best.  

Connecting Statewide Leaders Event in Fairfield Next Month

The next ABI Connecting Statewide Leaders event will be held December 7 in Fairfield. A luncheon follows the meeting and you will have a great opportunity to visit with fellow ABI members, meet the new Leadership Iowa class, and develop new customers. Register now for this program, which will focus on the future of manufacturing in Iowa: Summary - Connecting Statewide Leaders - Fairfield (  Make your plans now to join the LI class and ABI members in Fairfield in December. 

ABI Monthly Newsprint Journal Receiving High Marks; Get Your Updates in for the ABI Business Resource Guide

You soon will be receiving the monthly edition of ABI's flagship publication, the ABI Business Monthly.  Published in conjunction with ABI member John Lohman, publisher of the Corridor Business Journal and the Quad Cities Regional Business Journal Business, the Monthly last year took the place of ABI Business Record Iowa.  You’ll find great content about ABI programs and activities inside each edition of the Business Monthly.  Please share anything we can do to make the new journal even better and more useful to you.  

And by the way, John’s team will also publish the annual ABI Business Resource Guide, the association’s annual member directory.  It's that time of year to update your information and ensure all your contacts listed within the print directory are accurate.  A member of the Corridor Media Group will be reaching out to you in the coming weeks with a link to update your information.  Updates are due by November 17th.  Please respond to the message so we can have the most updated information for you to share with other ABI members.  Or, you may also contact me and we’ll make sure they are processed for the 2024 edition. 

Advisory Council to Meet in Two Weeks

The ABI Advisory Council will meet a week from Thursday.  This will mark the panel's final business meeting of 2023.  Thank you to ABI Advisory Council members Anthologic, AssuredPartners, Bankers Trust, BCC Advisers, BrownWinick, CIRAS, CliftonLarsonAllen, EMC, Fredrikson & Byron, G&A Partners, HDH Advisors, Principal Financial Network of Central Iowa, The Iowa Clinic, Wellmark, and Wells Fargo for your leadership and support! 

Not Too Soon to Make 2024 Annual Conference Lodging Reservations

It is not too early to make your lodging reservation for the 2024 Taking Care of Business Conference, ABI's 121st annual convention.  That event will be held June 4-6 of next year in Davenport. 

The flagship conference hotel is the beautiful Hotel Blackhawk, which is connected to the Davenport River Center Convention Complex (the site of the conference).  Go here and click on the “Hotels” button to find a link to the flagship hotel: Taking Care of Business Conference | Iowa Association of Business and Industry (   You will also see other terrific lodging options.  

Remember, this conference will involve exciting, brand new venues, fabulous speakers, and sessions unlike any seen before.  You will be able to register for the conference on the ABI website soon.  In the meantime, use the link above to make your lodging reservation now. 

ABI Legislative Briefing, Reception January 10

Mark your calendars now for one of ABI’s most popular, and most important, events of the year.  The annual ABI Legislative Briefing and Reception will be held Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in downtown Des Moines.  Typically, over 500 members and state officials attend this event each year.  

Because of your participation, this event draws more Iowa legislators (of both parties) than any similar event hosted by other organizations.  Your local legislators enjoy this event and appreciate the opportunity to visit with you and your fellow Iowa business leaders in a relaxed and informal setting.  As always, all 150 legislators and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg have been invited to join you at the reception.  

Immediately prior to the event, the annual members-only legislative briefing will be held.  This event will provide you with the very latest in legislative news and information about ABI issues.  You can find more information and register NOW by going to Summary - Legislative Briefing and Reception (  By the way, as always, this event is being held the same day as the January meeting of the ABI Board of Directors.  On behalf of our ABI officers and directors, I look forward to seeing you in Des Moines on January 10.  

Iowa State Solicits Potential Cy-Town Developer Information

Iowa State University is seeking information from potential developers involved in its Cy-Town project.  To be considered for participation in the project, developers must submit information by December 31st of this year.  Click here for more information and to register as a developer:  Registration does not mean you WILL participate, but you must registered to be considered. 

Economic Forecast from CIBC

Thanks to ABI Board Member Kelly Barrick (CIBC Bank, Johnston), I attended last week’s CEO event hosted by ABI member Mike Kleis (REF Iowa, Pella).  The day was well-spent, but perhaps the best part was an economic forecast address presented by two of Kelly’s CIBC colleagues, Bipan Rai and Keith Rofrano

Mr. Rai was particularly interesting and made several interesting points.  The US labor force is more productive than that of other nations, the world is de-globalizing (we’ve heard that from other sources, too), consumer demand remains high, and there was more.  His predictions were 1) there will be a final interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve in December, 2) there will be a cut in interest rates in Q3 of 2024, and 3) the dollar is going to remain strong around the world. 

Mr. Rofrano discussed Business best practices, such planning for the worst in your business as a way to be ready for anything.  First, Identify the risk, next, quantify the risk (a key step), and finally, develop a plan to manage the risk.  

Thank you, Kelly!  By the way, in addition to Kelly, it was great to see former ABI Chair Dave Zrostlik (Stellar Industries, Garner) and ABI Board Member Phil Jones (Rada Manufacturing, Waverly), at the event. 

NAM Reports: Economy Soared in Third Quarter; Manufacturing Employment Decreases

Last week’s Monday Economic Report, published by the National Association of Manufacturers, carried some good news.  The U.S. economy soared by almost 5 percent in the third quarter of this year.  Today’s report headlines decreasing manufacturing employment numbers.  Many challenges remain for manufacturing.  If you wish to read the reports for yourself, simply reply to this message and I’ll get them to you. 

Cindy Dietz Celebrates Today

Former ABI Chair Cindy Dietz (Collins Aerospace, Cedar Rapids) celebrates her birthday today, November 6th. ABI sends best birthday wishes to Cindy Dietz! 

Mary Andringa, Tom McMahon Celebrate

It is always fun to recognize two ABI leaders who share the same birthday this month.  Former ABI Chair Mary Andringa (Vermeer Corporation, Pella) and former ABI Board Member and former ABI Foundation Chair Tom McMahon (Barker Company-ret., Keosauqua) share birthdays.  ABI sends best birthday wishes to Mary and Tom! 

Sukup Night at Jack Trice Stadium

While the results of the game were not what Cyclone fans hoped for, I am calling Saturday evening Sukup Night at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday.  First, congratulations to company president Steve Sukup (Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield), as the giant end zone screens announced it was his birthday Saturday.  Happy birthday, Steve!  And, the Alumni Band played during the game.  I know company Chairman and former ABI Chair Charles Sukup (Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield) was a member of the Iowa State University Football Varsity Marching Band during his time at ISU… so I am wondering if he played, too?  If so, good job, Charles!  In any case, best wishes to the Sukup Brothers and their family! 

Eric Lohmeier Shares Workforce Article

Former ABI Board Member Eric Lohmeier (NCP, Des Moines) sent me a message last week that included a link to a news article about recruiting immigrants and refugees to the workforce (and challenges involved).  This, of course, is something ABI has championed for many years and I appreciate Eric sending the message.  If you wish to read the article for yourself, you may do so here: U.S. immigrant population growing fast far from southern border : NPR.  

The Business of ABI; Strong Results in 2023

Editor's Note: The following is a message that has become a tradition about this time each year; it has been edited for accuracy and so that it objectively applies to the current year

When I created the Monday Memo, my goal was to provide you with sort of an “inside baseball” view of what is happening at ABI each week.  Too many times, this weekly memo becomes simply a list of upcoming events.  Given that, I especially like to share news related to developments and projects (other than events) and news of what is happening with your fellow board members and past chairs.  And, I like to share news regarding what I call the business of ABI.  

The business of ABI refers to key information about the metrics that provide insights as to whether or not our association is achieving the goals you establish for it every year.  In that regard and in keeping with a tradition started well over a decade ago, I typically share some information in the memo that appears the week of the final board meeting of the year to provide some information about association results during the past 12 months. 

For many years, I listed several bullet points related to ABI's work in public policy, programs, with the work of the ABI Foundation, and as it pertains to our operational and financial success.  Because that became repetitive, I took a different tack the last few years and I'll do that again now.  

Let me simply say that ABI experienced strong results in 2023.  I need to point out that is not just rhetoric.  Simply saying something is the case does not make it so.  In measurable ways, ABI enjoyed success this year.  When it comes to public policy advocacy, membership growth, participation in events, conference revenue, Foundation programs, creation of new initiatives, and in so many other ways, 2023 has been a truly great year (and of course it’s not over yet). 

The last few years were made even more challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Not too many organizations can say this, but ABI can: We have weathered our SECOND global pandemic.  ABI survived the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 and it has survived the COVID pandemic (here’s hoping there aren’t too many more pandemics to survive).  While other organizations laid-off staff members, cut programs, operated in the red, or even went out of business, ABI has continued to operate and has even added new virtual programs during this time.  That is due to you, our board members, and the membership in general. 

ABI board members demand results.  Thanks to your leadership and thanks to a hard-working staff at ABI and the ABI Foundation, strong results were achieved in 2023.   THANK YOU.