Board to Meet in Des Moines Thursday - Monday Memo 5/10/21

May 10, 2021

Final Regular ABI Board Meeting of Fiscal Year Thursday

As you saw in the meeting message I sent Friday (let me know if you did not receive it), ABI Chair Steven Bradford (HNI Corporation, Muscatine) will convene the May meeting of the association’s board of directors at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday (May 13).  This will mark the board’s final regular meeting of Fiscal Year 2021 and it will be held at the Embassy Suites on the River hotel in Des Moines’ East Village. 

The meeting will begin with lunch and then a brief address by Sara Craig Gongol, Chief of Staff to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.  Sara will provide an update regarding Iowa’s COVID-19 vaccination status.  As I noted in last week’s memorandum, Sara has been instrumental in helping Iowans and Iowa employers obtain vaccinations and ABI is deeply grateful to her.  

Other highlights include a very strong financial report, the latest news from the Statehouse, a final update on the 2021 Taking Care of Business Conference, and your business updates.   There are great registration numbers for this meeting.  On behalf of Steven and our other officers, thank you for in advance for making plans to participate. 

2021 ABI Taking Care of Business Conference will be a SMASH; Governor to Attend

ABI Chair Steven Bradford (HNI Corporation, Muscatine), Conference Committee Chair Janice Konchar (Allsteel, Cedar Rapids), and several of us on the ABI staff made a final pre-conference site visit to Coralville/Iowa City last week.  What we saw confirms what we already knew… ladies and gentlemen, the 2021 ABI Taking Care of Business Conference will be a smash event and you really do not want to miss it. 

The Iowa River Landing Area has seen incredible growth since we were just there three years ago.  The Xtreme Arena, the site of the Welcome Reception on June 8, is fabulous.  ABI will be the very first business group to be hosted in this world-class athletic arena.  By the way, golf earlier in the day will take place at Finkbine Golf Course, which recently underwent a multi-million dollar remodeling of the course and the clubhouse.  Both are gorgeous. 

A full day of programming will take place on Wednesday (June 9) at the Coralville Marriott.  The general sessions all take place in the exhibit hall; not a ballroom, but a massive room in which attendees will be guaranteed socially distant seating and expansive views. In fact, every possible health and safety protocol will be in place to ensure your well-being.  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. 

The Chair’s Dinner Wednesday evening will be unlike any ABI has ever seen  Held at Big Grove Brewery (, this event will be safe, fun, tasty, and high energy.  ABI has reserved the entire facility (and it is LARGE) to ensure our attendees have the most fun possible. 

Throw in a great ABI Foundation auction, Leadership Iowa graduation, and the very best business networking in Iowa, and you are certain to have an absolutely fabulous experience.  A final reason to attend was confirmed last week.  Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds will again join ABI members at the annual conference.  Her address is always a crowd favorite.  NEARLY 400 ABI MEMBERS HAVE ALREADY REGISTERED.  There is a one-time cap of 450 attendees, so register now, don’t be left out.  Go here for more information and to register:  

Nominating Committee Meeting Held; Slate Developed for Annual Election

Members of the 2021 ABI Nominating Committee met last week by Zoom.  The committee developed a slate of officers and directors for consideration by the general membership at next month’s annual business meeting.  Thank you to these ABI leaders for their important work.  Immediate Past ABI Chair Cindy Dietz (Collins Aerospace, Cedar Rapids) also serves as Chair of the Nominating Committee.  The committee includes representatives of each of ABI’s five Iowa districts.  Thank you to Cindy and to these other ABI leaders for serving on the association's 2021 Nominating Committee: Andy Bramstedt (SSAB, Muscatine), Tim Conlon (Conlon Construction, Dubuque), Michele Farrell (Measured Intentions, Urbandale), Connor Deering (CemenTech, Indianola), and Molly Varangkounh (Hy-Capacity, Humboldt).  Thank you again for a job well done. 

ABI Advisory Council Members Great Resources for Your Business

The ABI Advisory Council includes valued member companies that provide terrific programming assistance, as well as key financial support for ABI.  Especially as we all deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, council members can be a great resource for your business. 

Thank you to the members of the council!  Those companies are Anthologic, ACS, BCC Advisers, BrownWinick, CIRAS, CliftonLarsonAllen, EMC Insurance, Focus OneSource, Fredrikson & Byron, HDH Advisors, LMC Insurance and Risk Management, Principal, The Iowa Clinic, and Wells Fargo

ABI Regional Public Policy Meetings to be Re-Scheduled

The three ABI Regional Public Policy meetings, originally scheduled for this week and next, have been postponed.  That is because the Iowa General Assembly continues to work overtime in an effort to adjourn the 2021 session.  Please stay tuned for more news as it develops. 

Jackson Mfg. Hosts Senator Ernst

As you have heard me say often, there is no more important thing you can do to advance ABI’s public policy agenda than hosting elected officials in your plant or office.  Last week, ABI Vice Chair Jack Hasken (Jackson Mfg., Maquoketa) again did just that.  I say again, because Jack has hosted local officials, state legislators, members of the Iowa Congressional Delegation, and even presidential candidates in his Maquoketa facility in previous years.    

Last Wednesday, Jack and his employees hosted U.S. Senator Joni Ernst.  Senator Ernst met with a group of business people, shared the latest news from Washington, DC, and answered questions.  Former ABI Chair Sarah Hasken (Jackson Mfg., Maquoketa) and current ABI Chair ABI Chair Steven Bradford (HNI Corporation, Muscatine) were on hand at the event.  Also on hand were ABI Board Members Rich Phelan (LyondellBassell, Clinton) and Jenny Steffensmeier (Steffensmeier Welding and Manufacturing, Pilot Grove), who all joined Jack and Sarah and other dignitaries for a wonderful event.  ABI Executive Vice President Nicole Crain and I were also pleased to attend.  

Click on this link for news coverage of the event: Ernst talks labor shortages, infrastructure during stop in Maquoketa | Tri-state News |  Thank you to Jack for his leadership! 

Another Supply Chain/Inventory Management Discussion

Iowa State University Professor Peter Ralston and I were visiting again about supply chains and inventory management.  This was following publication of a Wall Street Journal article about the perils of just-in-time inventory. 

Dr. Ralston noted that just-in-time is great as long as there is inventory somewhere in the supply chain.  The problem, he said, is that suppliers saw all the cost savings buyers were having by making the suppliers carry their (the buyers) inventory.  In response, suppliers reduced their inventory -- and no one else was holding the suppliers’ inventory. 

Peter suggested that what buyers might consider is to allow suppliers to share their (the buyers) cost savings when inventory is reduced at some point in the supply chain.  That should encourage suppliers to better participate in just-in-time inventory management appropriately. 

For 117 Years, ABI Members have Grown Iowa

(Editor’s Note: This item originally appeared in ABI publications a year ago.  Now, of course, the headline should read for 118 years ABI has grown Iowa.  I wrote this when ABI and Iowa were in the grip of the COVID-219 pandemic.  It seems worth sharing again a year later.)

ABI was founded in 1903 as the Iowa Manufacturers Association.  For the past 117 years, through good economies and bad, ABI member companies have been employing Iowans, supporting families, and building communities. 

ABI survived two world wars.  It survived the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and sometime in the future, it will survive its second global pandemic (its first pandemic was the 1918 Influenza Pandemic). 

That success doesn’t just happen.  It isn’t just luck, although good fortune is certainly a part of it. 

ABI has grown and succeeded in exactly the same way ABI member companies have succeeded.  By the hard work, dedication, and commitment of the women and men who are the backbone of these companies.  Their innovation, strong support, and leadership are the reasons for ABI’s success. 

In the face of COVID-19, all of that is more important than ever.  ABI members have retooled to manufacture personal protective equipment.  They have donated money to community pandemic assistance funds.  Their employees have given time, resources, and materials to fight the disease. 

ABI has supported all those efforts and the ABI staff has doubled down on providing meaningful assistance and service to ABI members… so that those members can remain safely in operation and help their employees and their communities.   

That’s the real legacy of ABI.  THANK YOU for making it so.