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Conference Agenda



Day 1 - Tuesday, Feb. 20th

Financing Solutions

Session Track Sponsor

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM


Financing Solutions You Might Not Know About

Business owners and financial leaders tasked with protecting their company's bottom line have experienced challenges over the past year with rising interest rates and inflation – and who knows what will happen in 2024. In this session, we'll explore some financial tools and opportunities you may have never heard of before, including state funded programs focused on securing low-interest rate loans, trade credit insurance designed to protect your most valuable assets, and financial services tailored to manufacturing companies.


Vivek Malek, State Treasurer | State of Missouri

   Vivek Malek was sworn in as Missouri’s 48th State Treasurer on January 17, 2023, the latest chapter in his inspiring American story.

   Born in Rohtak, India, he earned bachelors and law degrees in India before coming to Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) at Cape Girardeau for his masters in business administration. Arriving in Missouri on August 11, 2001, after the first plane trip of his life, he had two suitcases and $300 in his pocket. He was immediately welcomed into the community, and Vivek fell in love with Missouri.

   Through hard work and study, Vivek earned his MBA from SEMO and he went on to receive a master of laws degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. He decided to make Missouri his home and began practicing law.

   Vivek became a proud American and built a successful business devoted to helping other legal immigrants achieve their American dreams.

   In January 2020, Gov. Mike Parson tapped Vivek to serve on the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Governors. Gov. Parson again recognized Vivek’s leadership on Dec. 20, 2022, appointing him as Missouri Treasurer to succeed Scott Fitzpatrick, who was elected State Auditor.

   As a strong fiscal conservative, Vivek’s approach as State Treasurer centers on what he calls the “Three P’s”:

      1st: PROTECT Taxpayers’ Money – to ensure investments are safe while earning the best rate of return for Missourians.

      2nd: PROVIDE the Opportunity for Growth – with programs of the Treasurer’s Office including MOST, MoScholars,

              MoAble, and MoBucks.

      3rd: PROMOTE the Promise of America.

   Vivek and his wife Riju are the parents of three very active children: Daughter Naija, son Viraj and youngest daughter Myra.


Angela Leakey, Senior Strategic Partnership Manager | American Trade Finance (ATRAFIN)

   Angela Leakey combines over twenty years of experience in the insurance sector with a robust background in industrial control systems for the manufacturing and process industries. This unique blend of expertise positions her exceptionally well in the realm of trade credit insurance, especially in the context of manufacturing. 

  As a Senior Strategic Partnership Manager, Angela is distinguished for her ability to develop strategic relationships and craft insurance solutions that mitigate financial risks and enhance credit management. Her approach is deeply rooted in understanding the diverse needs of businesses, particularly in manufacturing sectors where risk management is crucial. p 

   Her philosophy, "Igniting Business Growth through Strategic Collaboration and Innovative Solutions," reflects her dedication to driving business success through comprehensive, innovative solutions. In the dynamic financial environment of today, her insight into market trends and understanding of technical aspects in manufacturing and industrial sectors enables her to align insurance offerings effectively with evolving market demands.


Rachel Hacker, SVP & Relationship Manager Commercial Banking | PNC Bank

   As Senior Vice President and Relationship Manager for Commercial Banking, Rachel delivers PNC Bank’s full scope of lending solutions, cash management services, risk management strategies and innovative ideas to help local companies address their business and financial needs. Additionally, she collaborates with internal partners to help clients access PNC’s specialized services and solutions for Equipment Finance, Treasury Management and Capital Markets.

   With nearly 20 years of experience advising manufacturing companies, she is keenly attuned to the opportunities and challenges inherent in this dynamic space, and she is passionate about contributing to the growth and continued success of this regionally significant sector. Rachel is based in St. Louis and was among the founders of Women in Manufacturing’s Missouri chapter, for which she currently serves as Chair/President.

Manufacturing Sales

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Understanding the Buyer's Journey

In this session, we will unpack the critical steps of the buyer's process, revealing key insights to predict and avoid common pitfalls that hinder relationship-building and truth discovery. Together, we'll rewind the clock, examining traditional sales and buyer processes to challenge and reshape your approach. Gain the tools to navigate these four crucial steps to sell more effectively and efficiently.


Aaron Solari, Associate & Sandler Sales Coach | Trustpoint, LLC

   Aaron Solari became a student of the Sandler Selling System while working in a direct B2B sales role in the manufacturing industry. After graduating from Missouri State University with his bachelor’s degree in Communications and Ethical Leadership, he joined the Trustpoint team and turned his sales process study into a career. Today, he walks closely alongside sales professionals as they grow to become better versions of themselves. He will be the first to tell you the countless times he has failed and how he leverages his failures for personal growth. Aaron has a heart for servant leadership, and for helping his clients reach the next level in their sales careers.

Taxing Times

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Taxing Times: Ups & Downs & New Tax Credits

Provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act began to expire or take effect in tax years 2022 and 2023, increasing manufacturers’ tax liabilities related to items like bonus depreciation, research and development and interest expenses. Rising taxes will hit small businesses in the manufacturing industry with a higher tax rate in 2026, unless Congress intervenes. And, at the same time, Congress created new, significant tax incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act. To help mitigate the effects of these tax hikes, manufacturers and their suppliers can discover tax credits and new accounting methods that can enhance their profitability.

During this presentation, Doug and Tim will provide a tax legislation and policy update, providing participants with insights from Capitol Hill that impact their businesses. They will also present a summary of the tax incentives and benefits that manufacturers should consider to boost their global competitiveness. These incentives focus on human capital, research and development, capital expenditures, accounting methods and exploration of new energy credits and enhanced energy incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act.


  • Demystify past and current tax legislation affecting the manufacturing industry.

  • Provide relevant examples of tax savings and deferral opportunities for Missouri manufacturers.

  • Give each attendee at least one potential actionable item related to enhanced tax credits under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

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Doug Kolker, Partner | Wipfli

   Doug Kolker is a partner in Wipfli’s manufacturing, retail and distribution practice. He has 18 years of experience working in the specialty tax credits area, focused on research and development and green energy tax credits. He assists companies nationwide by helping them successfully reduce their tax liabilities through these specialty tax credits. Doug also serves as the market leader for Wipfli’s Missouri manufacturing practice. He has a broad background in tax planning, working with closely held businesses, corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies.

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Tim O'Neill, Senior Manager | Wipfli

   Tim O’Neill is a senior manager in Wipfli’s tax practice, specializing manufacturing, retail and distribution. He has over 10 years of tax experience assisting clients ranging from large, multistate entities to small, closely held companies with their tax planning, tax compliance, tax consulting, and merger and acquisition needs. Clients appreciate his tailored individual and business solutions, commitment to excellence and ability to build strong relationships with their team.

Commodity Price Risk

Day 2 - Wednesday, Feb. 21st

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Commodity Price Risk: Measuring & Mitigating

How do you know if your commodity-price risk is large enough to require action? How do you manage it? That’s how Matt Marshall advises customers at AEGIS, where he leads risk-management, market research, and hedging strategy for nearly 400 customers.


AEGIS is the leading technology and hedging advisory company in the business, earning the top award from Energy Risk magazine for the last seven years. In this session, Matt will share some of the strategies AEGIS uses when assisting clients with their commodity price risk measuring and mitigating.


Matt Marshall, President – AEGIS CTA | AEGIS Hedging

   Matt’s experience stretches across petroleum, plastics, natural gas, industrial metals, power, environmental, and agriculture markets. Before his last six years at AEGIS, he worked in the research, trading, and risk management at both Cargill and Platts Bentek. 

   He specializes in coupling economic research with leading trading practices to mitigate commodity price risk. In addition, he uses technology to properly measure and control commodity risk, and manage the hedge program efficiently. 

Case Study

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

How to Grow by Double Digits in an Election Year

In this session you will learn what 300 different Manufactures say on a variety of topics regarding growing their businesses.  From generating more revenue from current customers to marketing that shows a real ROI to adding record setting new customers.  We will also dive into the details of leveraging profit margin opportunities to creating Value Difference Makers in markets where there is heavy competition.

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Eric Knudsen, President | NorthStar Group

In the first 6 years of our business we represented ThomasNet as a Rep Sales Agency then in 2014 we switched to a model of putting our client salespeople in front of the best new business opportunities. Today, we focus on helping manufacturers and distributors with four areas of their businesses. The first is traditional Lead Generation in the form of appointment setting for salespeople. The second is Sales Training. The third is their digital marketing strategy and execution and finally as we help our clients grow, we help them find their next group of superstars through our recruiting team. Go to to see how we have helped companies across the U.S. grow.

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