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IMA Executive News & Views Blog

Midwest Manufacturing Business Conference Announces John Ratzenberger as Keynote Speaker

John Ratzenberger, best known for playing mail carrier Cliff Clavin on the long-running NBC sitcom Cheers, multi-Emmy-nominated actor and accomplished screenwriter, director, producer and author, will be a keynote speaker at the 1st annual Midwest Manufacturing Business Conference. Ratzenberger will address this year’s theme “Conquering Today, Competing for Tomorrow,” along with other nationally recognized speakers including Illinois Manufacturers’ Association CEO, Greg Baise, national speaker and CEO of Chicago Tube & Iron, Donald McNeely and Associate Director for Manufacturing Science with the Illinois Applied Research Institute, Dr. Magdi Azer. They are among the more than thirty speakers who will address the Conference.

Registration is now open for the Conference, which will be hosted at the QC Waterfront Convention Center on Monday and Tuesday, April 24th and 25th, 2017. The nonpartisan, nonprofit Conference is the Quad Cities’ premier event for manufacturing, attracting nearly 700 attendees who come together for two full days of networking, professional development and business growth insights.

Ratzenberger and other speakers will share their experience and expertise on a range of topics including leadership, sales, marketing, technology, additive manufacturing, entrepreneurship, workforce development, cybersecurity, digital commerce and more. This year’s Conference theme “Conquering Today, Competing for Tomorrow” is designed to help manufacturers move forward with real-world insights from field-tested manufacturing leaders, improving operations, competitiveness, market reach and strategic advantages.

Prior to creating his character on Cheers, John lived overseas for 10 years and has worked as a carpenter, archery instructor, and deck hand on a fishing boat. He produced and starred in the Travel Channel series “Made in America,” which highlighted U.S.-made goods and workers. He is passionate about how important it is for this country to recognize the need for, and to provide the training to produce skilled laborers.

“We are thrilled to host John Ratzenberger, Donald McNeely and other inspiring manufacturing leaders at this year’s Conference,” said Andrea Olson, Conference Director for the Midwest Manufacturing Business Conference and CEO of Prag’madik. “These industry veterans are leaders in their fields, and their collective wisdom challenges us all to advance the growth of manufacturing in the Midwest and across the United States in short, to embrace change and empower growth through education.”

Conference attendees also have the opportunity to participate in a series of Peer Roundtables, featuring key industry topics and expert discussion facilitators, Executive “Speed Dating” (one-on-one discussion sessions with conference attendees and participants), Peer Panels (CEO roundtable moderated interviews), Peer Networking Sessions and much more.

The Midwest Manufacturing Business Conference is presented by the Midwest Manufacturing Business Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing mid-market manufacturing in the U.S. It is also generously underwritten by many organizations including Chicago Tube & Iron, The University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, Prag’madik, Santry 360, My Wingman, LLC., and Great Western Bank.

An early bird rate of $450 per person is available until Thursday, February 14th, 2017. To register or learn more about the 1st Annual Midwest Manufacturing Business Conference, explore our website at, or follow us on Twitter, @mmbconf. To apply for media credentials, please contact Andrea Olson,