Two Weeks to Conference - Monday Memo 5/24/21

May 24, 2021

2021 ABI Taking Care of Business Conference Kicks-Off Two Weeks from Tomorrow

It is hard to believe that just two weeks from tomorrow, ABI members will convene in Coralville for the 2021 Taking Care of Business Conference.  The meeting, ABI’s 118th annual convention, will bring close to 500 people from Iowa and beyond to Coralville and Iowa City. 

While a one-time cap on attendance due to health and safety protocols in still in place, it has been expanded and spots still remain.  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 Chair Steven Bradford (HNI Corporation, Muscatine), Conference Committee Chair Janice Konchar (Allsteel, Cedar Rapids) and the committee have developed a fabulous program.  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 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. 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 unlike any ABI has ever seen.  Held at Big Grove Brewery (, this event will be 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 Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, 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 experienceOVER 450 ABI MEMBERS HAVE ALREADY REGISTERED.  See you in two weeks at the conference. 

ABI Foundation Auction: “Iowa’s Best

The single largest annual fundraiser benefitting the programs of the ABI Foundation is the auction held in conjunction with the Taking Care of Business Conference.  Every penny received goes to the programs serving Iowans.  Over the past few years, Foundation leaders and staff have taken the auction to the next level, with even greater, cooler items upon which to bid. 

This year, the Foundation has adopted an auction theme that characterizes the event as “Iowa’s Best” Auction.  

The Online Silent Auction launches on June 1 at 8:00 a.m. and silent bidding concludes on June 9 at 8:00 p.m.  The In-Person Live Auction, containing exclusive prize packages, will take place during the Chair’s Dinner at the Annual Conference on Wednesday, June 9.  Click here for more information:  Thank you in advance for your support for the ABI Foundation! 

Legislature Adjourns; Watch for regional Meetings Soon

As you read in a couple of publications from ABI last week and have seen elsewhere, the Iowa General Assembly adjourned its 2021 session late last Wednesday.  The session had run well into overtime and leaders worked hard in the final hours to craft comprises that would gain support and allow for adjournment. 

If you didn’t see the Special Edition of the ABI Public Policy Report from late Wednesday, let me know and I’ll re-send it at once.  And, you can always check last Friday’s ABI newsletter, too:  You can watch a video report from ABI here:

When you read those reports, you’ll note that this session was just the latest in a long string of very successful legislative sessions for ABI.  Thank you to ABI’s public policy team of JD Davis and Brad Hartkopf, who worked long hours throughout the session.  JD and Brad are terrific at what they do and we appreciate their hard work.  And thank you to you and all ABI members, as YOU are the real reason for ABI’s success. 

By the way, stay tuned for more information about ABI’s Regional Policy Meetings, which always follow adjournment of the legislative session.  JD and Brad will provide a read-out of the session and what legislative actions mean for your business.  And, we’ll gather your ideas and comments as we begin to prepare for the 2022 Iowa Legislative Session. 

Cami Schaefer, ABI Summer Intern, Joins Team Today

ABI typically has an intern on staff during the summer months and it is typically a college student.  This year is no exception, as a certain co-ed from the University of Missouri joins the ABI team today as our summer intern. 

Cami Schaefer, daughter of former ABI Chair Lori Schaefer-Weaton (Agri-Industrial Plastics Company, Fairfield), has just completed her junior year at Mizzou, majoring in marketing with a minor in economics.  She will be with ABI through late July. 

What is really cool about Cami (besides her family) is that she has experience related to ABI and the ABI Foundation and has been a participant in Foundation programs.  Cami is smart and personable and will make a terrific addition for the summer.  Say hello to her when you see her at the conference.  Welcome, Cami! 

CIRAS Board Meets Thursday

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 by WebEx.  Watch for news of any developments in next week's ABI Monday Memo

Current Best Practice Notes from Kelly Barrick

It is always helpful to learn what ABI members are hearing in their interactions with other business leaders.  Longtime ABI Board Member Kelly Barrick (CIBC Bank, West Des Moines) is a terrific leader and an expert on the Iowa economic scene.  Kelly was in touch last week regarding best practice information she had gleaned from clients and other sources.  She was good enough to share it with me and I believe you will also find value in it. What follows is Kelly’s information: 

Following are a few points that the companies (all Midwest HQ) were aligned on during discussions:

  • Retention is crucial; make sure all management is aware of the cost of losing an employee (can be 2-3x the salary) vs hiring a new one; factor in low reserves/mental strain, coming off of a period of time when many teams have already used their “reserves” and picking up more work may tip the bucket
  • Labor Pipeline: Ensure your application process is less than 5 minutes or you’re losing candidates; find the basics again, bring the human touch back to the forefront i.e. call vs send automated response to job seekers when possible; build a pipeline of talent, just like the sales teams builds on prospects
  • Hybrid/Flexibility: Employers will be more open to flexibility for jobs that can be done remotely-If your company isn’t,, at some level, you may see turnover; seeing hybrid of in the office but allowing for flexibility a certain number of days; it may be 3 days in the office 2 days home one week, and 2 days in the office 3 days home the next, etc. many variations being discussed
  • Candidates are asking for a career path earlier in the interview process: what does Day 1, Week 1, Month 1, Month 3, etc. look like for them? Selling how you help development of career path may help offset salary differences
  • Predictive Indexing and Emotional Intelligence are continuing to be used to a) define the true need in the role b) find the candidate that naturally aligns and thrives with those needs to stay engaged long term c)understand various ways employees manage change – an added tool to very diverse reaction to the pandemic and last year
  • Creating an Onboarding “wow” experience helps, as millennials make a decision on how long they will stay at a company in the first days; If Day 1 they feel lost and without guidance, long-term engagement drops; Nataliya Boychenko Stone, from Holmes Murphy, recommended a book, The Power of Moments by Chip Heath & Dan Heath, which highlights ideas on how to create impactful moments 

Kelly also had a series of attachments included as a part of her message.  If you would like to see the message and attachments, let me know and I’ll send it to you.  In the meantime, thank you very much, Kelly, for sharing these insights. 

The Business of ABI: Fiscal Year-End

There is just a little over one month remaining in ABI's fiscal year.  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.