midwest manufacturing business conference




An event you do not want to miss.


The premier business conference for mid-market manufacturers.

What you can expect from MMBC.

The Midwest Manufacturing Business Conference is a 2-day regional event, designed to address the current and future business challenges of today's mid-market manufacturers.
Built directly from manufacturer input, the conference is a concentrated series of sessions and interactive panels, designed to deliver immediate, actionable solutions to today’s challenges and future needs. Attendees will benefit from receiving real-world insights from field-tested manufacturing leaders and professionals, to improve business operations, competitiveness, market reach and strategic advantage today.

Delivering Actionable Education to Impact Business Growth.

Centered solely on education and networking, the conference brings together C-level manufacturing executives across the Midwest. The event program  includes 3 core educational tracks, and a series of roundtables, panels, interactive one-on-ones and a CEO Networking Event.


Where is the event?

QC Waterfront Convention Center
2012 State Street
Bettendorf, Iowa 52722

When is the event?

The event will take place on:
24th to the 25th of April 2017


Thinking About Attending But On A Budget?

We now offer NEW GENERAL ADMISSION RATES, GROUP PRICING for those companies looking to bring multiple team members and STUDENT DISCOUNTS!

Questions on the program, events or agenda? Contact us anytime and our event team is happy to help!

What is the event schedule?



8:00-8:50 am

Opening Remarks
Keynote Presentation
John Ratzenberger, American Made: Manufacturing is the Foundation of America
John Ratzenberger, known for his role in the popular TV show "Cheers", will celebrate American manufacturing with his comedic musings and commentary on the need for manufacturers and the future of the industry.

9:00-9:50 am

Building an Effective Leadership Team to Drive Growth
Dr. Randy Richards: St. Ambrose Univ.
As CEO, you need to realize that each team member plays a role in your company and each individual is part of the whole. If you want to work effectively, your team must be harmonious. Learn actionable techniques to build an effective team.

9:00-9:50 am

Money on the Table: How to Thrive in Government Contracting
Beth White: CIRAS
Navigating the process of government contracting is challenging. Examine how you can avoid leaving money on the table through effective supplier participation, managing remittal channels, efficient RFP searching for the right fit.

9:00-9:50 am

Leading Growth, Innovation & Change: Manufacturing Case Study
Patricia Miller: MATRIX 4
When a young, 32-year old granddaughter took the helm of her grandfather's injection molding company, it changed the game. Learn how Patricia transitioned from Fortune 500 biotech and pharmaceutical career to taking MATRIX 4 from a company nearing the end of its life cycle to restructuring across culture, strategy, and team to create growth, innovation and change.

10:00-10:50 am

The Manufacturing Workforce of Tomorrow: Where it's Headed
Beth Townsend: Iowa Workforce Development & Jim Nelson: IMA, Moderator: Burl Randolph, Jr.
Manufacturing employers continue to site the “talent gap”, the lack of necessary skilled workers, as one of the biggest challenges they face.  Learn about the ways the manufacturing and education industries are tackling the challenge today and for tomorrow's tech-skilled needs.

10:00-10:50 am

Building Your Brand through Undiscovered Differentiation
Andrea Olson: Prag'madik
Optimizing processes and reducing costs are only half the battle. Effectively communicating and differentiating your company, products and services is essential to stay ahead. Learn about the key best practices to improve top-line sales efforts through smarter and impactful branding strategies.

10:00-10:50 am

What is Data? How to use it as a Competitive Sales Advantage
Peggy Stover: Annex Analytics
While most manufacturers have an extensive network of suppliers and customers, generating a huge amount of data, few take the right steps to use this to its full potential. Learn how to use technology to gain insights on parts data and performance to increase your bottom line.

11:00 am -12:00 pm

Executive "Speed Dating"
In this highly interactive session, get a chance to meet all the conference attendees in a series of 3-minute "micro meetings", and learn about challenges and areas of expertise, gaining opportunities for partnerships, mentors and new business development.

12:00-1:00 pm

Lunch and Peer Networking
Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center: What A Blood Center Has In Common With Manufacturing
Blood providers take a component from one person (donor) and prepare that component in such a way that it can be transfused into a patient’s bloodstream. Because most people see the blood center (publicly) at blood drives and Donor Centers, we are viewed primarily as a volunteer blood collection operation, not as a federally licensed manufacturer of biologics. (We are both at the same time.) Most manufacturers don’t exist as a true community partner. Manufacturing creates products we all use and everyone needs, but most manufacturers don’t rely on “the public” to provide raw materials as volunteer donors. Blood centers have all of the regulatory and requirements that ensure employee and “consumer” safety, but also the need to generate and maintain support from the public (donors, blood drive hosts).

1:00 -1:50 pm

Executive Peer Panel: Advanced Leadership Strategies
Vic Almgren: Moline Forge, Desiree Grace: Anamet Electrical, Thomas Young: Timken Drives, Brandon Sieben: Allsteel, Marc Bowers: St. Louis Makes, Moderator: Burl Randolph, Jr.: MyWingman
This interactive panel will include a series of current and past manufacturing CEO's, discussing their challenges in team growth, leadership, and how to bridge the gap between today's organization and tomorrow's needs.
2:00-2:50 pm How to Build a Winning Engagement Strategy for a Distributed Workforce Santiago Jaramillo: Empify
The year 2020 will be upon us in just three short years, and by that time, reports say an astonishing 50% of workers will be remote. Are you prepared? Luckily, new technology trends are making it easier than ever to engage and communicate with your distributed employees.

2:00-2:50 pm

Metrics & KPIs: Measuring the Right Things
Kevin Santry: Santry 360
We know that what gets measured, gets done and that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. So why don’t manufacturers use financial metrics better? Learn about the critical performance indicators to measure for business optimization.

2:00-2:50 pm

Overcoming Manufacturing Challenges to Successfully Compete in a Global Climate
Darin Harbor and Luke Manier: Rockwell Automation
The pressure on American manufacturing has reached levels never before experienced. The age of U.S.  Manufacturing assets in many cases has reached end of life. The U.S. manufacturing workforce is exiting at rate three to seven times faster than it can be replaced. Global market transparency has produced an extraordinary competitive environment. Consumer demand and expectation is putting unprecedented pressure on manufacturers to innovate and adopt manufacturing flexibility.

3:00-3:50 pm

The Future of the Affordable Care Act: Issues and Solutions
Stefanie Belanger: Group Benefit Consulting
Rising health care costs retained their ranking as the top business challenge for manufacturers in the United States. More than 77 percent of manufacturers identified rising health care and insurance costs as their most important challenge. Learn in this session how to control costs and stay compliant.

3:00-3:50 pm

Your Business IS a Growth Business
Tim Chen: Group Schumacher
Growing sales requires more than hiring additional sales representatives or pushing your distribution channels harder. In this session, examine new approaches for architecting a strategic sales and growth plan, utilizing new perspectives on diversification, leveraging customer insights and identify uncontested opportunities in the market.

3:00-3:50 pm

Cost Reduction, Measurement & Sourcing: Smart Methods
Al Eggland: Pella Corporation
Most companies spend countless hours just managing purchasing and will end up leaking a lot of unnecessary profits because of mismanagement or inefficient processes. Learn how to  implement a smarter sourcing process, starting with understanding the needs.

4:00-4:50 pm

Communicating with Five Generations in the Workplace
Mary Erlain: Peak Development Strategies
Leaders are increasingly grappling with generational differences in their work forces. Problems can arise from differing mindsets and communication styles of workers born in different eras. Examine ways to avoid frictions aggravated by new technology and work patterns that mix workers of different ages in ever-changing teams.

4:00-4:50 pm

Leveraged Growth: Identifying New Opportunities for Existing Processes & Products
Rob Newbold: IMEC
A product innovation is the introduction of a good or service that is new or has significantly improved characteristics or intended uses; a process innovation refers to the implementation of a new or significantly improved production or delivery method. Learn how to use them in combination for rapid revenue growth.

4:00-4:50 pm

Smart Data: Using Existing Insights to Increase Revenues
John Kleb: Sikich
Manufacturers taking advantage of advanced analytics can reduce process flaws, saving time and money. Find out how manufacturing leaders can use advanced analytics to take a deep dive into historical process data, identify patterns and relationships among discrete process steps and inputs, and then optimize the factors that prove to have the greatest effect on yield.

5:00-5:45 pm

Day One Closing Remarks
Greg Baise: CEO, Illinois Manufacturers' Association
The future growth of manufacturing is dependent upon understanding and embracing the changes coming down the road for mid-market manufacturers. Greg will discuss the next stages of economic, business and technological development that will build industry growth long-term.

6:00 - UTC

Social Hour and Networking Event

8:00-8:50 am

Opening Remarks
Mayor Bob Gallagher, City of Bettendorf
Keynote Speaker:  Manufacturing : A Day in the Life
Dr. Donald McNeeley: Chicago Tube & Iron
With the new administration, the manufacturing landscape is changing rapidly.  Organizations need leadership to not only navigate the minefields, but also to optimize the opportunities that lie ahead. Dr. Donald McNeely, CEO of Chicago Tube and Iron, will speak to this very critical subject from his perspective as both a CEO and Professor.

9:00-9:50 am

Designing a Business Strategy that Works and Grows with you
Kent Pilcher: Estes Construction
Adopting JIT, TQM, or some other three-letter acronym—is not a strategy for using manufacturing to achieve competitive advantage. Neither is aspiring to lean manufacturing, continuous improvement, or world-class status. Learn how to design a strategy that specifies the kind of competitive advantage and articulates how that advantage is to be achieved.

9:00-9:50 pm

Generating Revenue through Environmental Sustainability
Dr. Gordon Rands: Western Ill. University
As manufacturers gain experience in building alliances, they often find their portfolios ballooning with partnerships. While these partnerships may contribute value to the company, not all alliances are in fact strategic to an organization. Learn how to build alliances that are truly strategic and build bottom-line growth.

9:00-9:50 am

The Impact of Additive Manufacturing on Marketing, Sales & Hiring
Chris Hill: CIRAS
Additive manufacturing isn't just about the technology. Understanding how to leverage the technology across your marketing and sales resources, along with defining the talent and skillsets necessary to capitalize on the investment is critical. Learn how you can align your organization around this emerging technology.

10:00-10:50 am

Anatomy of a Second Generation Organization
Jim Carr: Carr Machine & Tool, Moderator: Burl Randolph, Jr.
There are three sides to running a business: the operations, the market and the people. When all these things change simultaneously, keeping focused on the business itself can be a challenge. Learn how a second-generation owner learned to transition ownership, transform the business, and modernize operations over the decades.

10:00-10:50 am

Serving the Market with a Portfolio of Products
Jason Hagedorn: Allsteel
Many companies are very busy supporting existing products and developing new products but are challenged to grow profit.  Worse, some find themselves working harder year-over-year for less profit dollars!  Learn to view your product offering as portfolio of individual profit engines.  From strategic planning to tactical execution - real life Product Portfolio Management examples and tools will be shared to help you direct your product offering for breakthrough profit growth.

10:00-10:50 am

Cybersecurity and the Future of Digital Product Tracking
Jerry Irvine: Prescient Developers
As advanced as manufacturing is becoming — with interconnected systems and data running factories, production and the supply chain — cybersecurity should be a concern for every manufacturer. Jerry Irvine takes time to answer  questions about the biggest cybersecurity problems manufacturers should be mindful of.

11:00-11:50 am

The Fight For Talent: Finding and Securing the Right People
Dr. Emeric Solymossy: Western Illinois University
The manufacturing industry is struggling to attract, hire and retain talent for roles ranging from skilled production workers, to R&D and big data experts, to operational and business managers.  Exceptional talent is valuable, and acquiring and maintaining this value for your organization takes introspection and recognizing that the rarity of true talent is what yields competitive value to your organization.

11:00-11:50 am

Next Generation Customer Service and Sales Automation
Seth Crawford: John Deere
Technology continues to revolutionize the ways we live, conduct business, and function as a society.  To address such challenges in today’s digital economy, manufacturers are creating value by generating revenue and transforming dealer relationships through connected platforms, big data, and eCommerce.  Learn how the pros get it done.

11:00-11:50 am

Creating New Markets for Existing Operations
Carol Woten: Genesis Systems
Growing a company can be challenging when your target markets are shrinking or flat. Tackling this challenge requires a new perspective on your business and examining new markets in a creative way to diversify your sales portfolio. This session will cover a real-life case study on how to identify your organization's key differentiators and how to determine new markets for growth.

11:50-12:50 pm

Lunch and Peer Networking
Professor Harrison Kim: University of Illinois
Professor Kim, recipient of the 2015 Supplier Award, shares insights on how to develop an effective supplier partnership strategy, including materials sustainability and overall product lifecycle design to ensure competitiveness within the marketplace.

12:50-1:50 pm

Executive Peer Panel: Manufacturing in the 21st Century
Jim Claassen: KONE, Victor Almgren: Moline Forge, Mike O'Brien: EICC, Bruce McDuffee: MMI, Marc Bowers: St. Louis Makes - Moderator: Mike Baxley
This interactive panel will include a series of current and past manufacturing CEO's, discussing their views on the future of manufacturing, including technology, diversification, talent and global opportunities.

2:00-2:50 pm

Culture Shift: Creating and Maintaining Organizational Performance
Ginny Wilson-Peters: University of Iowa
What holds an organization together and motivates the people within it to do the right thing rather than the easy thing? Learn about the values, mindsets, and behaviors that constitute an environment conducive to success.

2:00-2:50 pm

Revenue Management: Using Data to Drive Price Determinations
Dr. Xin Chen: University of Illinois
Pricing strategy isn't simply derived from margin or cost management. Designing an effective way to manage revenue growth through smart pricing strategies provide the opportunity to increase profits without losing premiums. Learn in this session how to develop and design effective pricing strategies for online and offline channels, including dealer, distributor and direct sales.

2:00-2:50 pm

Digital Marketing Trends for 2017
Tom Casale: Simplified Solutions
Digital marketing is changing thanks to widespread ownership of smartphones, ever-increasing data and video streaming, combined with a cultural desire for digestible and personalized content. How can you jump on some of these trends to get an edge on your competition? You’re about to find out. Join us as we explore the top trends in digital marketing that we believe small businesses should be paying attention to in 2017.
3:00-3:50 pm Creation of a Legacy: Good or Bad? Harry McCabe: McCabe Advisors
Succession & Exit planning is not an issue that many business owners address because they are facing other organizational challenges. Learn when you should start to plan and how to identify key differences for passing your legacy to partners or family members.

3:00-3:50 pm

Growth and Diversification through Competitive Intelligence
April Glosser: Thrive Marketing Intelligence
What you don't know will impact the health of your business. This session will provide an overview on how you can use a proven framework to make intelligence based decisions about diversification, including customer intelligence, buyer behavior, market intelligence, competitive insights, and much more.

3:00-3:50 pm

Manufacturing Outside the Box: Product, Placement & Presence
Marc Bowers: St. Louis Makes
Innovation is not just limited to product development. Identify new ways to extract innovation and ideas from all aspects of your organization, creating a culture of ideas through the use of new technologies, project management approaches, and product development techniques to move ahead of your competition.

4:00-4:50 pm

Peer Advisory Roundtable
Strategy & Leadership: Burl Randolph
Attendees will be broken up into 3 roundtable sessions, with moderated groups discussing critical future topics including marketing, innovation, technology, talent, leadership, and education. This session is a highly interactive peer discussion, where you can expand your business network and learn real-world solutions to tomorrow's challenges.

4:00-4:50 pm

Peer Advisory Roundtable
Marketing, Sales, Finance: Andrea Olson
Attendees will be broken up into 3 roundtable sessions, with moderated groups discussing critical future topics including marketing, innovation, technology, talent, leadership, and education. This session is a highly interactive peer discussion, where you can expand your business network and learn real-world solutions to tomorrow's challenges.

4:00-4:50 pm

Peer Advisory Roundtable
Innovation & Technology: Linda Baxley
Attendees will be broken up into 3 roundtable sessions, with moderated groups discussing critical future topics including marketing, innovation, technology, talent, leadership, and education. This session is a highly interactive peer discussion, where you can expand your business network and learn real-world solutions to tomorrow's challenges.

5:00-5:45 pm

Day Two Closing Remarks
Dr. Magdi Azer, Illinois Applied Research Institute: The Future of Manufacturing Technology
Manufacturing remains a critical force in both advanced and developing economies. But the sector has changed, bringing new opportunities and challenges to business leaders and policy makers. Dr. Magdi Azer will discuss the future of manufacturing and where the industry is headed.

Key Speakers

John Ratzenberger

Seth Crawford

Jim Carr

Kent Pilcher

Dr. Magdi Azer

Don McNeeley

Greg Baise

Patricia Miller

John Kleb

Underwriting Sponsor

Platinum Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

Location & Registration


Hotel accomodations.

Isle of Capri Casino and Resort
Stoney Creek Inn
Hilton Garden Inn
Mention "MMBC" when reserving rooms for discounted rates. $69.95 rate at Isle.

Conference dates.

The event will take place on:
24th to the 25th of April 2017
QC Waterfront Convention Center
Quick Links:

Conquering today, competing for tomorrow.

Contact the Conference Director for information about attendance, sponsorships and presentation opportunities.
Contact Details:
Conference Director
Andrea Olson
Davenport, Iowa
Tel (319) 321-7396