Annual Conferece Was A Smash - Monday Memo 6/20/16

June 20, 2016

Wow!  What a Conference!!

You are used to reading that exclamation in the first Monday Memo after the annual ABI Taking Care of Business Conference; that’s because every year it is appropriate.  ABI members from across Iowa and from other parts of the nation converged on Sioux City last week for the association’s 113th Annual Convention.  A fabulous crowd, local hospitality, exciting venues, nationally-known speakers, and terrific events made the 2016 ABI Taking care of Business Conference something very special.  

you know, the annual convention is important to ABI for several reasons.  While the revenue raised by the convention is one of those, even more important is the event’s value as a source of programming and information for members.  And even more important than that, the annual convention helps continue ABI’s momentum and provides members and sponsors with the very best business networking in Iowa.  It is abundantly clear that this annual meeting achieved the convention committee’s goals related to revenue, programming, and networking. 

On behalf of the ABI Board of Directors, THANK YOU to all members, sponsors, and convention attendees for your time and support last week.  Special thanks go ABI Chair Paul Gregoire (Emerson/Fisher, Marshalltown), a terrific conference committee chaired by Kim Didier (DMACC, Ankeny), and to staff leaders Holly Mueggenberg and Kathy Anderson.  Nicole Crain, Kay Neumann-Thomas, Dorothy Knowles , Michelle Vollstedt, Emily Schettler, Jessi Steward, Jane Galloway, Amanda Nuzum and intern Claire Eide also deserve special thanks.  

ABI members are off to a convention in another great city for the 2017 conference.  See you in Dubuque next June! 

Lori Schaefer-Weaton New Chair of ABI

At the Annual Business Meeting held last Tuesday in Sioux City, ABI members elected new officers and directors for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.   Lori Schaefer Weaton (Agri-Industrial Plastics, Fairfield) was elected Chair, David Zrostlik (Stellar Industries, Garner) was elected Vice Chair, David Bywater (Economy Advertising Company, Iowa City) was elected Treasurer, and John Krogman (Connect-A-Dock, Atlantic) was elected Secretary.  Paul Gregoire (Emerson/Fisher, Marshalltown) is Immediate Past Chair.  

Executive Committee members were also elected, including returning members Steven Bradford (HNI Corporation, Muscatine) and Richard Phelan (LyondellBassell, Clinton).  New members are Michael Sadler (CenturyLink, Des Moines), Mary Landhuis (Lisle Corporation/EZ Lift, Clarinda), and Kirk McCollough (Seneca Foundry, Webster City)

New board members from across the state were also elected and they will take office (along with the new officers and Executive Committee) on July 1.  Retiring board members have provided important leadership for ABI and they will soon be officially recognized for their service. 

Lori Schaefer-Weaton is a longtime ABI board member and a well-known Iowa business leader.  She is President of Agri-Industrial Plastics in Fairfield and the second generation leader of her family's company.  Agri is well-known as an innovative industry leader and manufacturer.  Lori is active on several boards and initiatives, both in the Fairfield Region and throughout the State of Iowa.  She has a particular passion for education and STEM and is a founding leader of ABI's Elevate initiative.  Lori and her husband, former ABI Board member Nate Weaton (HillPhoenix, Keosaqua), are proud parents and are well-known throughout Iowa.  Congratulations to Lori and to our other officers and directors! 

Conference, Other Issues Draw Media Coverage

Last week's annual ABI conference drew members of the media, who covered the event itself, the appearance by our keynote speakers, and other issues.  You can see some of the coverage in this week's ABI newsletter, which, as always, will be published Thursday.  For now, here is a link to coverage of the closing events by Sioux City television station KCAU:  It was indeed, "Awesome, baby!" 

Lieutenant Governor Addresses Convention

Inviting the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Iowa to the annual convention is an honored ABI tradition.  Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds addressed the convention and paid tribute to ABI member companies throughout Iowa.   It is always a treat to have the Governor and/or  Lieutenant Governor with us.  Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Reynolds for joining us in Sioux City.  

Leadership Iowa Class Graduates, Wes Ehrecke Named 2016 Leadership for Iowa Award Winner; 2016 Business Horizons Session Fast Approaching; Auction Successful

At a ceremony held Wednesday, members of the 2015-2016 Leadership Iowa Class graduated.  Class members have demonstrated a real commitment to continuing their leadership activities and it is clear that our state will benefit from these committed young leaders.  Congratulations to everyone! 

Also last week, the 2016 Leadership for Iowa Award was presented to longtime Iowa business leader Wes Ehrecke (Iowa Gaming Association, Clive).  Wes has been a great leader for Iowa for  many years.   ABI congratulates and sends best wishes to Wes.  

The focus of the ABI Foundation now shifts to the upcoming session of Business Horizons.  As you know, BH is a week-long entrepreneurial experience for Iowa high school students and this year’s session will take place next month on the campus of Central College in Pella.  Please go to for more information. 

In other Foundation news and thanks to all of you, last Wednesday evening's Foundation Auction was a huge success.  Several thousand dollars was raised and every penny of it will go to support programs for Iowans. 

A special thank you goes to former ABI Board Member  Jason Gross (Nationwide, Des Moines) and his able assistant Chad Christensen (Agri-Industrial Plastics, Fairfield)a, who led the auction.  Thank you, Jason and Chad! 

Latest Edition of Business Record Iowa Published Last Week

ABI members around Iowa have shared with us that they enjoy the new Business Record Iowa publication that ABI produces in conjunction with the Des Moines Business Record.  This newsprint product is produced monthly (as opposed to quarterly with the ABI's previous publication) and goes to a much wider distribution list. 

The June edition of Business Record Iowa should have hit your mailbox last week.  It is inside the Business Record - look for the cover photo of ABI Chair Paul Gregoire (Emerson/Fisher, Marshalltown).   If you did not receive a copy of the latest BR Iowa, we'll get a copy to you.  

ABI Staff Deserves Your Thanks

At the end of this month, ABI will complete the association’s 2015-2016 fiscal year.  Thanks to strong leadership by all of you, the past year has been filled with success.  ABI completes its year in a position of great strength. 

Another factor in ABI’s success is strong staff work.  Nicole Crain, Kathy Anderson, Kay Neumann-Thomas,  Holly Mueggenberg, Chrissy Viers, Dorothy Knowles, Michelle Vollstedt, Emily Schettler, Jessi Steward, Jessica Harder, Jane Galloway, and Amanda Nuzum (and Myron Linn earlier this year) are doing simply great work.  At ABI, we never forget that it is all about the members and these staffers ensure that is the case.  Please join me in thanking them for their efforts. 

Bill Zinkewich Checks in from Florida

As he does periodically, former longtime ABI Board Member Bill Zinkewich (SSAB, Muscatine) checked in from his home in Florida.  As you know, after a long and successful career, Bill retired a few years ago and he and his wife moved to Florida.  

Bill was one of those ABI leaders who was instrumental in the association's resurgence and it is always great hearing from him.  Thanks for checking in, Bill! 

UEA Latest to Affirm ABI Members' Number One Concern: Their Employees

It is always amazing to me when I read negative things that generalize business people and call them uncaring.  I know ABI members to be some of the most caring and positive people I have ever met. 

That thought came home to me again Friday.  After unloading the car of conference materials (something that every ABI staff member did), I was catching up on email messages.  One included the regular newsletter from longtime ABI member United Equipment Accessories

The first item was from the company's president, Immediate Past ABI Chair Mark Hanawalt (United Equipment Accessories, Waverly).  In his message, Mark noted the uptick in business and some other company news.  Here are the last two sentences of his message to employees, "We hope everyone has a happy and safe summer. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make your summer a bit better. 

Anyone who knows Mark knows that he genuinely means what he says.  If there is anything he can do to help his employees, he does it.  It is that way with ABI members all across this state.  I heard that same sentiment expressed in other ways dozens of times at the annual conference.  ABI members are the kind of business people that everyone should meet. 

The Business of ABI: Convention Edition

As you know, the metrics associated with ABI’s annual convention have been steadily growing over the past several years.  There is a very real momentum at ABI that ensures the association’s long and proud history is leading to an even stronger and more successful future.  Members tell me they can hardly wait until next year’s 114th Annual ABI Convention to see what will happen.  On behalf of Chair Paul Gregoire (Emerson Fisher, Marshalltown) and soon-to-be Chair Lori Schaefer-Weaton (Agri-Industrial Plastics Company, Fairfield) and our other officers, THANK YOU for making the convention – and our association – so successful.