LI Goes Virtual - Monday Memo 11/23/20

November 23, 2020

Leadership Iowa Class Returns to Virtual Format

Ottumwa was to have been the site for the third session of the 2020-2021 Leadership Iowa Class.  Due to a spike in COVID-19 infections in Iowa and in order to keep the class and ABI Foundation staff safe, Leadership Iowa will meet virtually in December. 

The class will meet next week on Thursday and Friday.  The session will focus on economic development and workforce and a terrific slate of speakers is on tap. 

As always, special thanks go to the Leadership Iowa Board of Governors and to the ABI Foundation Board of Directors for maintaining a terrific LI program.  

Two More Programs in ABI Webinar Series next Week

Two programs to be held next week mark the final programs in a webinar series ABI initiated last month.  Both remaining webinars will be held a week from Thursday, on December 3.  Please click here for more information or to register for these programs: and

Hot Topic: ABI to Co-Sponsor Re-Shoring Seminar on December 10

On December 10, ABI will join CIRAS (the Center for Industrial Research and Service at Iowa State University, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Iowa Area Development Group, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority in presenting a seminar on re-shoring.  As has been discussed in ABI meetings of late, this is a timely topic, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on supply chains. 

There is no charge for this high-value seminar.  Click here to register or to find more information:  

December Executive Committee Teleconference in Two Weeks; January 13 is Date for Next ABI Board Meeting

The final meeting of the ABI Executive Committee for 2020 is scheduled to be held two weeks from Thursday, on December 10.  Later next week, committee members will receive the usual packet to help in preparing for the meeting, which will be called to order by ABI Chair Steven Bradford (HNI Corporation, Muscatine) at 9:30 a.m. 

The board will meet next month.  The ABI Board of Directors will hold its regularly scheduled January meeting on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.  

Because it falls on the same day as the annual ABI Legislative Reception, the January meeting is typically one of the best-attended of the year.  Please mark your calendars now for January 13. 

Iowa Business Report Radio Program

The Iowa Business Report radio program is broadcast weekly on stations all over Iowa.  The program is the result of a great a partnership between well-known Iowa broadcaster Jeff Stein and ABI.  If you missed the latest episode, you can click here to listen for yourself:  Links can also be found on the ABI website at  

One highlight in this week’s show is some information Jeff shares about cyber issues.  And there is an interesting profile related to COVID vaccine development with an Iowa connection.  It’s a great edition of the show. 

State Leaders Will Attend 2021 ABI Legislative Reception; Register Now

Key state leaders such as Governor Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, and all 150 members of the Iowa General Assembly have been invited to the 2021 ABI Legislative Reception.  As you know, this event is one of the most popular events ABI hosts all year long.  Past receptions have regularly drawn in excess of 500 people, including more legislators of both parties than at any other similar event.  

The attendance of these state officials is one more confirmation of your importance to Iowa policy makers.  They attend because YOU attend. 

You can register (over 130 of you already have) by clicking on the following link:  The 2021 ABI Briefing and Reception will be held Wednesday, January 13 at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in downtown Des Moines.  Plenty of convenient parking is available nearby.  By the way, all appropriate health and safety protocols will be followed.

I hope you will attend the reception, which is a very important event.  Of course it is a lot of fun and you’ll see great ABI colleagues from all over Iowa.  Even more vital, however, is your discussion with your local legislators.  Building relationships between legislators and ABI members is what the event is all about.   Your perspective is a crucial component in helping Iowa policymakers understand the needs and concerns of business people in our state.  On behalf of our ABI officers, I look forward to seeing you in Des Moines on January 13. 

NAM Report Data Continues Positive Trend

Last week's Monday Economic Report from the National Association of Manufacturers noted that manufacturing layoffs are down, production hiring was up, and prices are also up.  

In fact, more positive news was included in today’s Monday Economic Report, which the NAM published a little early (it just hit my email in-basket a few moments ago).  These reports and others are pointing to an improved manufacturing sector in 2021.  If you would like to see either or both of the reports for yourself, please reply to this memo and I will get the information to you at once. 

Jack Hasken Leads South Iowa Pheasant Hunt; Son Taylor, Other First Responders Join

ABI Vice Chair Jack Hasken (Jackson Manufacturing, Maquoketa) can usually be found at his plant in NE Iowa.  When he is not at the plant, Jack might be on his boat on the Mississippi River… or he might be on a pheasant hunt.  

Recently, Jack led a hunt to the Highland Hunt Club near Riverside, Iowa.  Highland is a private game farm and the prey this time was some nice-looking (I’ve seen photographic proof) pheasants.  Jack led a group of 8, including Jack’s son, Taylor Hasken.  Taylor was one of six hunters from Fire Stations 1 and 2 in Ankeny, Iowa.  Some of the group had never been on a pheasant hunt, but they were able to bag some good looking birds anyway. 

Jack noted that the group roughed it… for their overnights, they stayed at the Riverside Casino and Resort (good fellowship and good food in a private room, so everyone was safe, Jack says).  Leave it to Jack to do something cool for this group of first responders.  Thank you to Taylor and his colleagues for their service.  And thanks for sharing this neat story, Jack! 

Contrarian Leadership Book Best Practice Echoes Diamond Vogel

Like many of you, I am always looking for the next business/leadership/educational book.  My eldest son (the university professor) recommended to me “The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership” written in 2002 by former University of Southern California President Steven Sample.  

There are some nuggets in the book and I was struck by the number of things already being done by ABI members.  One in particular stood out to me.  Dr. Sample discussed the need to “work for those who work for you.”  It reminded of a story longtime ABI Board Member Drew Vogel (Vogel Paint Company, Orange City) shared with me many years ago.  Drew noted that the company had built a new headquarters building and were trying to determine what to call it. 

Ultimately, the name was something a little different… the Manufacturing Support Center.  Drew said that the company is all about manufacturing the industry leaders in paints and coatings – and supporting the great work of employees who are engaged in doing just that.  If that is the mission, it seemed everything should revolve around that work.  I thought that was pretty cool.  Thanks for sharing, Drew. 

Mindi Vanden Bosch Featured on Cover of UNI Business Report

Advance Iowa is a super program at the University of Northern Iowa that seeks to help Iowa businesses grow.  ABI appreciates partnering with Advance Iowa periodically. 

It was fun to receive the program’s annual business report last week.  And, there in the middle of the front cover, was a photo of ABI Board Member Mindi Vanden Bosch (Vermeer Corporation, Pella).  Mindi was a speaker at an Advance Iowa event and it was great to see her featured.  Congratulations, Mindi! 

Myron Linn Officiates Championship Game; Gillilands Celebrate a Great Season

Speaking of Pella, another Pella person needs to be mentioned in this week’s Memo.  Former ABI Chair Myron Linn (Pella Corporation, Pella) was a member of the crew that officiated the 3A State Football Championship last Thursday at the Uni-Dome.  That is the latest in a string of championship games (high school and college) that Myron has officiated.  Congratulations, Myron! 

Special thanks to ABI Member John Gilliland (Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Des Moines), who let me know about Myron.  And congratulations to John, as his son MaxGilliland and his Van Meter Bulldog teammates were the State Runners-Up in Class 1A this season.  It is just the latest in a string of powerhouse seasons for Van Meter.  Max is a two-year starter on a team that lost 1 game in two years and was the State Champion in 2019 and Runner-Up in 2020.  As I shared with John, that’s good parenting! 

The Business of ABI: Comparing Financial Data

A longtime board member and I were visiting about the financial status of ABI and comparing it to 15 years ago.  Well, at a time to focus on gratitude, I’m grateful for your leadership, because the status at ABI now is dramatically different than it was then.  While we could focus on many others, two financial metrics demonstrate this success: 1) 15 years ago, the equity on ABI’s balance sheet was less than $147,000.  2) The association’s cash position stood at $79,000 – not $790,000, but $79,000.  Today, equity is over $1.1 million.  The cash position also routinely hovers around $1 million (less in our slow revenue months). 

I would note that former ABI Chair Kirk Tyler (Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Des Moines) was the first ABI leader to suggest to me that we needed to develop cash reserves of a million dollars.  When Kirk said it, I thought we could never get there.  But, we put a plan together, got to work, and made it happen. 

It’s that way with regard to so many things at ABI.  So many former board chairs and board members have led us to so many new things I can’t name them all (I can, but it would make for a longer memo than you want to read).  YOUR leadership is the spark for some big initiative, some change that leads to greater value and improved performance.  THANK YOU for all of it and for the opportunity to work for you and with a great team.