2017 Lineup of Presenters


Wednesday, July 12, 2017, 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. (Coral Ballroom)

Surviving the Tidal Wave of Change

By Michael Sansolo

Vast challenges are building quickly for the supermarket industry, threatening traditional industry strengths and promising to impact sales and profits. Based on a new report examining the impact of changing technologies, competition and consumer habits, Michael Sansolo’s presentation examines the coming threats and the essential steps the industry must take to ensure future survival.

About Michael

Countless studies and years of work with some of the world’s most innovative companies give Michael Sansolo a unique and diverse view of the changing nature of trends impacting shoppers, employees, competition, economics, supply chains and management. A long-time senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute and now a consultant, speaker and author, Sansolo has traveled the globe working with companies on adjusting to new market conditions. He currently serves as the research director of the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Councils of both North and Latin America, and recently authored Business Rules! a collection of diverse and useful lessons in business success. Co-author of The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies, Sansolo also writes a weekly column on wide-ranging business trends for www.MorningNewsBeat.com, a daily blog with nearly 28,000 readers and has received many awards for excellence in writing and reporting throughout his career.


Wednesday, July 12, 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.

A Panel Discussion: Government Relations and the Changing Legislative Landscape from the State Capitol to Our Nation’s Capitol

Moderated by Michael Sansolo (Coral Ballroom)


  • Brad Epperly, IGIA lobbyist
  • Greg Ferrara, National Grocers Association senior vice president government relations & public affairs
  • Jennifer Hatcher, Food Marketing Institute chief public policy officer & senior vice president, government relations

A shift in power at both the state and federal levels, a new president and a host of new policies spell changes and opportunities for your business. Today’s panel discussion features three government-relations experts to provide insights into the legislation with the greatest potential to impact your business as well as explore answers to your probing legislative questions.

More about the panelists

Brad Epperly
A legislative counsel at Nyemaster, Goode, West, Hansell & O’Brien, P.C. in Des Moines, Brad Epperly became IGIA’s lobbyist of record in September 2016. As part of Nyemaster’s Governmental Affairs Department, Brad lobbies at the state Capitol before the legislature, the Governor and regulatory agencies. His work as legislative counsel involves a broad spectrum of public policy issues, including economic development, labor and employment issues, workers' compensation, gaming and utilities. Brad has a B.B.A. with honors from the University of Iowa and a Juris Doctorate with distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law.

Greg Ferrara
As senior vice president, government relations & public affairs, Greg Ferrara oversees the government relations, and communications and marketing departments as well as serves as the National Grocers Association’s chief lobbyist. Ferrara has a wealth of experience in the grocery industry having managed the operations for his family’s century-old supermarket in New Orleans before the store was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. He also worked as a corporate project manager for Associated Grocers in Baton Rouge. Ferrara holds a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola University New Orleans and is a fellow of the prestigious Institute of Politics at Loyola University.

Jennifer Hatcher
Jennifer Hatcher serves as chief public policy officer and senior vice president, government affairs, for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), overseeing federal, state and regulatory efforts on public policy, legislative and political issues impacting the supermarket industry. Prior to coming to FMI, Hatcher served as chief of staff to U.S. Congressman Spencer Bachus (AL). She also served as special assistant and White House liaison at the Department of the Treasury during President George H.W. Bush’s Administration and as a White House intern during the Reagan Administration. Hatcher has a degree in Political Science and Communication from Vanderbilt University and a Masters in Government from Johns Hopkins University.

Wednesday, July 12, 9:45 – 10:45 a.m.

Successful Iowa Business: Cookies Food Products

Featuring Speed Herrig | owner

This year’s successful Iowa Business, Cookies Food Products, located in Wall Lake, Iowa, is owned and operated by Speed “The Sauceman” Herrig and Judy, his wife. Take a journey with Herrig as he recalls the hard work and sacrifices made to turn a small, one-man operation, into one of the largest regional sauce manufacturers in the country. Today, Cookies products are available in 34 states and three foreign countries—Norway, Mexico and Japan.

Listen as Herrig shares the stories behind the success as he recounts lessons learned over the course of four decades of persistent effort, lost sleep and culinary creativity over a hot stove as well as the unflagging support of employees and family that went into building Cookies Food Products.

About Speed

Speed “The Sauceman” Herrig possesses a personality as flavorful as his many award-winning sauces and spices. Christened Duane, Herrig became “Speed” while playing halfback for the Wall Lake High School football team. At only 110 pounds, had to be fast or get creamed, he says. Herrig also helped build racing engines in his younger days and for a number of years raced half-mile dirt tracks. His interest in racecars and the occasional illegal drag race ensured the nickname stuck.

After high school, Herrig joined the Navy where he worked as an aircraft mechanic. When he left the military in 1962, he opened Speed’s Automotive and later Speed’s Automotive Supply. He also ran a Ford-Mercury Dealership from 1966 to 1970 but found a new calling in 1976 when he bought out a small group of partners and went on to build Cookies into the success it is today.

Speed’s talents are not limited to making sauces and seasonings. He has written numerous cookbooks, competed in BBQ sauce competitions around the country, appeared on hundreds of television and radio cooking segments, served in multiple regional and national advocacy organizations and supported countless charitable causes.

Herrig and Judy also own an automotive parts store, Speed’s Auto Supply, and a golf cart dealership, run by son, Bryan. Judy runs a variety store and does the bookkeeping for the auto parts store and the promotional arm of Cookies. Their son, Jeff, manages the Cookies Food Products plant. Daughter Janene is an RN/BSN at Rankin-Jordan Hospital in St. Louis. They also have 14 grandchildren (ages 7 to 25), and live on the same Wall Lake farm where Herrig was raised.

Thursday, July 13, 8 – 9:15 a.m.

Hangin’ with Winners

Ray Cole

Thursday morning’s keynote is the vibrant and charismatic Ray Cole, president & chief operating officer of Citadel Communications Company. Audiences everywhere love to hear about his “Hangin’ with Winners” experiences involving well-known figures from the worlds of television, sports, entertainment and politics. Ray is a master storyteller who uses personal anecdotes to make his multimedia message of leadership, teamwork and success come alive for groups of all ages and backgrounds. Ray’s engaging approach to connecting with an audience leaves them entertained, inspired and uplifted.  

About Ray

Ray Cole’s Midwest values and work ethic were shaped at an early age, working in his family’s IGA store in Kingsley, Iowa as a young boy. Ray went on to attend Briar Cliff College (now Briar Cliff University) where he graduated with honors. While at Briar Cliff, Ray completed an internship at KCAU-TV, the ABC affiliate in Sioux City, IA. This opportunity propelled him into a career in broadcasting that now spans five decades. Ray has held leadership roles on the boards of ABC-TV, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Television Bureau of Advertising, and the Broadcasters Foundation of America. He has been recognized for his contributions to the broadcast industry and service to local communities, and was inducted into the Iowa Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame in 2015.

Thursday, July 13, 9:30 – 10:45 a.m.

The Terrorist Whisperer: The Story of The Pro American

By Hamody Jasim  

Hamody Jasim has an extraordinary story to share with convention goers this year. It is one of “choosing the hard right over the easy wrong.” After saving an American military officer from being abducted by al-Qaeda, this courageous young man was recruited by U.S. Intelligence and risked his life again and again to change the outcome of the battle against al-Qaeda. Jasim’s intelligence information helped take out one of al-Qaeda’s main operatives and enabled countless other successful U.S. missions. Jasim’s choice to do what was right rather than what was easy earned him the call sign, "The Terrorist Whisperer.” His actions are a powerful example of the impact one person can make … no matter the stakes. This type of loyalty, bravery, dedication and teamwork in life and in the workplace … can change the world. The easiest path is not always the best path … and Jasim’s story will make you re-think your life and how lucky you are to live in America, where anything is possible if you work hard enough.

About Hamody

Jasim is the author of The Terrorist Whisperer and has been one of America’s greatest weapons in fighting the terror war against al-Qaeda and ISIS. He is an Iraqi-born native who grew up under the devastating oppression of Saddam Hussein’s Regime. Jasim went from being a young man beaten every day in Saddam’s prison, to being one of the most lethal spies in Iraq and a threat to all terrorists in the Iraqi war.

Michael Sansolo




Brad Epperly

Greg Ferrara

Jennifer Hatcher




Successful Iowa Business

Speed Herrig
















Ray Cole






Hamody Jasim