Two Weeks to Conference - Monday Memo 5/20/24

May 20, 2024

2024 ABI Taking Care of Business Conference Kicks-Off Two Weeks from Tomorrow; Governor Kim Reynolds Confirmed for Conference

It is coming up fast!  It is hard to believe that just two weeks from tomorrow, ABI members will convene in Davenport for the 2024 Taking Care of Business Conference.  The meeting, ABI’s 121st annual convention, will bring 600 people from Iowa and beyond to the Quad Cities.  If you haven’t yet registered for the conference, you can do so NOW by clicking on:  

As I noted a few weeks ago, ABI Vice Chair Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) and the members of committee have developed a fabulous program.  The Hotel Blackhawk, the site of the Welcome Reception on June 4, is terrific.  By the way, golf earlier in the day will take place at TPC Deere Run (, one of Midwest’s most beautiful golf clubs.  Manufacturing and community tours are another highlight of Tuesday. 

A full day of programming will take place on Wednesday (June 5) at the RiverCenter Convention Complex.  Nationally known, fantastic keynote speakers will lead the program.  High-value breakout sessions will further enhance your day and all speakers have conveyed a strong desire to provide you with the greatest of presentations.  

If you want fun, the Chair’s Dinner Wednesday evening will be another fabulous ABI celebration.  Held at Davenport’s renowned Figge (Figge Art Museum › Welcome), this event will be fun, tasty, and high energy.  ABI has reserved the entire museum to ensure our attendees have the most fun possible. 

Another highlight was confirmed last week.  Ladies and gentlemen, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds will continue a decades-long tradition by governors of Iowa (regardless of party) by addressing the ABI Annual Conference.  Governor Reynolds will address conference attendees on Wednesday morning, June 5.  Throw in a great ABI Foundation silent auction, Leadership Iowa graduation, and the very best business networking in Iowa, and you are certain to have an absolutely fabulous experienceOVER 400 ABI MEMBERS HAVE ALREADY REGISTERED.  See you in two weeks at the conference! 

Final Voting for Coolest Thing Made in Iowa Begins Today

It is somewhat amazing to see all the excitement generated by ABI’s newest initiative, the Coolest Thing Made in Iowa.  The Final Four products were announced Friday and later this morning, voting will begin to name the Coolest Thing champion!  This all happens by popular vote and Iowans are certainly doing their part by casting A LOT of votes.  Click here for more information and to vote: Coolest Thing Made in Iowa (!  Thank you to longtime ABI member MidWestOne Bank for partnering to make Coolest Thing possible.  And remember, the winner of the competition will be announced on June 5th at the ABI Conference.  

ABI Regional Meetings Continue; Council Bluffs, Le Mars, Ames on Tap this Week

As you know, the Iowa General Assembly adjourned a few weeks ago.  That means it is time for the annual ABI Regional Policy Meetings, which always follow adjournment of the legislative session.  The meetings began last week in Waterloo, where the ABI public policy team provided a read-out of the session and what legislative actions mean for your business.  And, we are gathering your ideas and comments as we begin to prepare for the 2025 Iowa Legislative Session.  We look forward to visiting with ABI members in the coming weeks. 

The second regional meeting will be held later today in Council Bluffs and the third meeting will occur tomorrow in Le Mars.  Thank you to ABI Board Member Lesley Bartholomew (Wells Enterprises, Le Mars) for hosting ABI. 

The fourth regional meeting will be held this Wednesday in Ames at ABI member Chevron/REG.  The fifth and final meeting will be held at in Davenport on June 5th.  Find more information and register at Events Calendar | Iowa Association of Business and Industry (  In the meantime, thank you to the great ABI member companies that will host the regional meetings this year. 

Vermeer’s Mary Andringa to Keynote ABI Executive Forum; Other Great ABI Leaders to Speak

It seems that all Iowans know well the story of Gary Vermeer, the founder of Vermeer Corporation, and how he started his company as a one-man job shop on his farm in 1948.  Now, of course, the company has thousands of employees, manufacturing plants in multiple foreign counties, and does business all over the world.  The company is also still led by family members.  Mr. Vermeer’s daughter and former ABI Chair Mary Vermeer Andringa (Vermeer Corporation, Pella) is Chair Emeritus of the company.  Mary is a dynamic executive who will keynote this year’s ABI Executive Forum.  Mary is a terrific speaker and the Vermeer story is compelling, so don’t miss this opportunity to hear her remarks. 

Ladies and gentlemen, another fabulous agenda has been developed for the Executive Forum.  There will be great, high-value programming on Thursday, August 8th, including a manufacturing tour (at ABI member Stellar Industries) and lunch, including a brief discussion of perspectives for employers related to health care.  Then, an economist from ABI member Wells Fargo will share an address and the latest information about the global economy.  That will be followed by a terrific panel of ABI company board members, including Heather Bruce (Osmundsen Manufacturing, Perry), Peter Voorhees (Standard Golf Company, Cedar Falls), and another ABI owner/CEO.  And a terrific opportunity to hear from another great ABI member awaits attendees on Friday morning (August 4th).  ABI Vice Chair Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) will host breakfast, share comments, and then lead a tour of Winnebago’s leading manufacturing plant. 

Registration is now available at this link: Summary - Executive Forum (Members Only) (  This page also includes links to the program, and you can click on those program links to find more information about the speakers and agenda.  By the way, we’ll be at some fabulous venues in Mason City - make plans now to join your ABI colleagues in August in North Iowa! 

Welcome to ABI Summer Intern Olivia Jones

I was remiss last week in not noting that Olivia Jones was joining us as ABI’s 2024 summer intern.  Olivia, the daughter of Brent and Amy Jones (Agri-Industrial Plastics Company, Fairfield), joined us a week ago and will be with us until August.  She will this fall be a senior at Iowa State University with a double major in Marketing and Management.  In addition to her parents, Olivia’s family include her brother, Caden.  Olivia has already helped with a number of tasks, including ABI’s mobile web app.  We are glad to have her with us.  Welcome, Olivia! 

CIRAS Board Meets Thursday at ABI

A valued ABI member-partner is Iowa State University's Center for Industrial Research and Service.  CIRAS is a fabulous resource for Iowa manufacturers and businesses of all kinds.  Over the years, many ABI leaders have also been involved in CIRAS and several are current members of the CIRAS Industry Advisory Board. 

The CIRAS Advisory Board will meet Thursday here at ABI.  Watch for news of CIRAS developments in next week's ABI Monday Memo

NAM Report: Industrial Production Flat March to April

Thursday’s edition of the National Association of Manufacturers’ daily newsletter, Input, carried information indicating that industrial manufacturing production in the U.S. was flat in April as compared to March.  That was somewhat offset by an upward revision in the February numbers, which now show a more robust increase.  If you wish to see the report for yourself, simply reply to this memorandum and I’ll get it to you at once. 

The Business of ABI: Fiscal Year-End

Every year about this time (when there is just about a month remaining in ABI’s fiscal year), you read a similar message from me.  That is that while I never lose sight of where our organization stands as it pursues the objectives you set for us each year, I pay particular attention at this time of the year. 

With just over five weeks left in ABI’s fiscal year, metrics across the board are strong.  Thanks to YOUR leadership and support, ABI continues to be a thriving organization, with a solid and sound financial condition.  Be assured that is never taken for granted. THANK YOU.