IGIA Get Connected 2016: Fresh Name, New Locale and More Connections

Iowa grocery and convenience retailers, wholesalers and suppliers headed to Coralville, Iowa, July 12 – 14, for the newly refreshed IGIA Get Connected Annual Convention.

After their initial planning meeting late last year, IGIA Convention Committee members decided to create a permanent name and theme for IGIA’s Annual Convention this year. The strategy behind the change was to provide for a stronger branding of the event and to honor what IGIA members value most and that is the many varied and valued connections convention facilitates. This time-honored networking event for grocery and convenience industry members and their families has long afforded countless opportunities to reunite with old friends and establish vital business connections, as well as soak up knowledge and cultivate young industry leaders.


Fostering Connections

One way IGIA fosters connections at Convention is through the Convention Ambassadors program, which pairs longtime attendees with newcomers. Ambassadors answer questions about Convention, meet with newbies at convention, arrange introductions and ensure first time attendees feel welcome and make the most of their time during the event. 


Convention Auction Raises $35,000

Convention kicked off on Tuesday, July 12 with the Early Bird Golf Tournament presented by Mueller Yurgae Associates. Later that evening, the Iowa Grocers Education Foundation Auction raised $35,000 to fund college scholarships for youth with ties to the grocery industry. Immediately following the auction, IGIA members headed to a nearby local establishment, 30hop, for after-hours mingling in a relaxed atmosphere.


Inspire and Energize

Wednesday, attendees heard from two inspiring and informative speakers and participated in a panel discussion covering catering to the Millennial consumer.

Speaker V.J. Smith got the day started with his presentation, “The Richest Man in Town,” which is based on his best-selling book of the same title. V.J.'s presentation inspired us all to make a difference by attending to the small details in life that really matter by sharing the moving story of Marty, a kind-hearted, unforgettable cashier at a local big box store. Marty became a legend in an unexpected place because he cared enough to treat everyone with dignity, kindness and respect.

After V.J. came a panel discussion, "Catering to the Millennial Consumer" moderated by Aaron Putze of the Iowa Food & Family Project. The panel included Kristin Porter, Iowa Girl Eats blogger; Whitney Packebush, corporate dietitian, Fareway Stores Inc., and Tim Graber a fourth-generation family farmer from Wayland, Iowa. Participants discussed changing food preferences and lifestyles and how both are affecting the marketing place and the food conversation.

Ending the morning with fireworks, Olympic Silver Medalist NBC sports analyst and innovation expert John Coyle shared some exciting and inspiring real-life stories about maximizing strengths rather than fixing weaknesses. He also outlined how individuals and teams can achieve breakthrough results by leveraging strengths and designing around weaknesses.

The guests and spouses of members participated in a special event just for them, "Christmas in July." And, kids 4-12 decorated cupcakes and had a blast at the Iowa Gym-Nest gymnastics and sports facility as a part of Kids Convention.


Revelry on the River

After a morning of informative speakers, grocers headed to Blue Top Ridge Golf Course at Riverside for golf. Although Mother Nature cut short the tournament, Iowa grocers enjoyed a full evening of fabulous food and exciting entertainment. The mouth-watering BBQ dinner included martini mashed potatoes, chocolate fondue and the musical styling of the grocery industry's own, Jake Bender. Jake is not only a leader at Bender's Foods headquartered in Bellevue, Iowa, he is also a talented musician and popular musical act. It was a great night of networking and fun.


A Second Day of Education and Enjoyment

The energy and impact of Get Connected 16 remained high on Thursday, the final day of Convention. The day began with a hearty breakfast followed by Kirk Tyler, president of this year's Successful Iowa Business, Atlantic Bottling Company. Kirk shared the story of the company's proud past and how it came to be the success it is today as well as where the company is headed in the future.

Then IGIA Lobbyist Scott Sundstrom delivered a legislative summary and update on the state of the Iowa Legislature as we march toward the upcoming elections.

Next, convention keynote Dave Sanderson took the stage to deliver a powerful presentation, "Moments Matter: How one Defining Moment Can Create a Lifetime of Purpose." Dave told the compelling story of his experiences on the flight that has become known as "The Miracle on the Hudson." Dave kept his audience riveted as he described what it was like to be the last person off the plane after ensuring everyone else was safely evacuated, then plunging into icy waters to swim for the rescue boat and fight for his life against hypothermia.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Thursday's action-packed agenda continued with the IGIA Annual Meeting Video, featuring several active IGIA members. The IGIA Board conducted the transfer of the gavel from outgoing Chairman Todd Keech, PepsiCo, to incoming Chairman Aaron Irlbeck, Fareway Stores Inc. Afterward, the 2016 IGIA Leadership Institute Graduates took the stage as they received trophies and certificates for successfully completing the Institute. The morning wrapped up with a fun slide show of members having a great time throughout convention and a mouth-watering meal of chicken, pork and turtle cheesecake.


Looking Ahead

In 2017, IGIA Convention will head back to The Coralville Marriott, Tuesday, July 13 – Thursday, July 15, 2017. Check out lots of great photos from Convention on the IGIA Facebook page: www.facebook.com/IowaGrocers.



This little cutie topped her cupcake with gummy worms during the cupcake-decorating portion of Kids Convention, but it appears this worm is taking a detour to her tummy.


IGIA President Michelle Hurd and Bob Gostomski of Mueller Yurgae Associates strike a pose with Herky during IGIA Get Connected 16.


Convention golf outings provide opportunities to cultivate business connections and forge friendships that last a lifetime like Tyler Farner’s (left) and John Rasley’s.


Scott and Kathy Beckwith appear excited to dig into chocolate lava cake and pound cake covered in chocolate syrup and strawberries.


The IGIA recognized graduates of the 2016 Leadership Institute during closing ceremonies on Thursday.


Convention allows sponsors to showcase their products and services.


The Iowa Grocers Education Foundation auction drew a big crowd and raised $35,000 to fund scholarships to help youth with ties to the grocery industry obtain a college degree.


This group of independent grocery store owners managed to break away from businesses demands to attend Get Connected 16.