SAVE THE DATE! Thursday, May 16, 2019

Thank you to everyone who attended our 2018 Midwest SME Forum in Hoffman Estates. Further information regarding the 2019 Midwest SME Forum will be announced soon!

It has been a pleasure for us to welcome you at the 2018 Midwest SME Forum. We enjoyed a great afternoon and would like to extend a big thank you to our sponsors, speakers, and attendees. Check out our photo gallery to get am impression of the event. 

Topics this year included

  • Global Workforce Management
  • Information Security
  • IIoT Solutions for SMEs
  • Future Trends in Automotive
  • B2B Marketing & International Online Brand Communication 


9:30 am - approx. 3:30 pm: SME Forum


    Registration & Networking Breakfast


Welcome & Updates from Washington & Springfield


Welcome by
Mark Tomkins 
President & CEO
GACC Midwest 

Update from Washington by
Dr. Ursina Krumpholz
Minister-Counselor, Head of the Economic and Business Section
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany


Update from Springfield by
Greg Baise
President & CEO
Illinois Manufacturers' Association (IMA)


Morning Breakout Session (Choose 1 of 3 - sessions run parallel)

Session 1: Cyber and Information Security 

     Zach Raizen
     Manager, Risk Advisory Services

     Richard Michaels
     Senior Underwriter

     Christoph Schneider
     Senior Vice President
     MB Financial Bank

     Imran Ahmed
     Founder & CEO

     Brian Hengesbaugh

Session 2: IIoT Solutions for SMEs

     Gisbert Ledvon
     Business Development Manager

     Bill Peters
     Account Executive
     relayr Inc.

     Aric Pryor
     VP of Technology Vision
     Flanders Electric

     Sayan Bose

Session 3: B2B Marketing & Online Brand Communication

     Lydia Michael
     Founder and President
     Blended Collective

     Nick Vehr
     CEO, Executive Counselor
     Vehr Communications

     Ralf Weber
     President and CEO
     m/e brand communication

     Scott Christiansen
     CEO & Founder
     Root3 Growth Marketing


Attendee pitches
- Each attendee will receive an exclusive opportunity to introduce themselves to the entire audience. Start crafting your unique elevator pitch now!


Networking Lunch

2:00pm- 3:30 pm

Afternoon Breakout Session (Choose 1 of 2 - sessions run parallel)

Session 4: Future Trends in Automotive


     David Suplee
     Future of Retail Department Manager
     Mercedes-Benz USA

     Modar Horani
     Managing Principal
     P3 North America

     Arnd Herwig
     Vice President Development
     Brose North America

     Virginia Rounds
     Director, Skills Initiative 
     GACC Midwest 

Session 5: Global Workforce Management

     Kevin Aiston

     Jennifer Meyers
     Director of Client Advisory
     Hull Speed Associates, Inc.

     Brian Beggerow
     Senior Vice President
     AXIS Benefits Consultants, Inc.

     Dave Deremer
     VP - Human Resources
     Bosch Rexroth Corporation

     Claude D. Grimes
     Director, Human Resources


Wrap up



Northern Illinois University, Hoffman Estates

5555 Trillium Blvd, Hoffman Estates, IL 60192


By attending this event, you agree to allow photos and/or video of you to be taken and used in GACC Midwest’s marketing collateral, including but not limited to our website and other digital channels.

Midwest SME Forum 

$ 110 for Members
$ 145 for Non-members

Please note that all sales are final. 

By attending this event, you agree to allow photos and/or video of you to be taken and used in GACC Midwest’s marketing collateral, including but not limited to our website and other digital channels.




Check out the agenda from last year's SME Forum!

8:30am –

Registration & Networking Breakfast

9:30am –

Welcome & Keynote

"German Companies Abroad: Global Investment Strategies"

Achim Wolper 

KPMG will present the results of their brand-new study
Investment Report 2016

10:45am – 11:15am

Networking Coffee Break

11:15am – 12:30pm

Morning Breakout Session (choose 1 of 2)

Session 1: 

Universities & Startups:
Driving Innovation through partnerships

  • See how companies work with strategic partners to gain competitive advantages
  • Learn how to innovate through partnerships 
  • Hear what role digitalization plays in innovation strategies for SMEs

Philipp Herrmann
Founder & CEO
etventure Corporate Innovation  GmbH

Chuck Medhurst
President & General Manager
BMW Technology Corporation

Bill Fienup
Managing Director

 John Winzeler
President & Owner
  Winzeler Gear

Session 2: 

Forget Foosball Tables:
Effective Ways to recruit and retain (young) talent

  • Explore strategies to attract and keep talent, including Millenials
  • Get insights into overcoming the skills gap
  • Learn how to keep your talent motivated

Christiane Bock
Vice President Insurance Services, Employee Benefits
                  Mesirow Financial                                       

Tom Christman
Exec. Director, Executive Recruiting
JP Morgan

         Mollie Dowling           
Executive Director, 
OAI Inc.

Geoffrey Somary
President & CEO, 

Tracey Watt
Midwest Strategy Director

12:30pm – 1:45pm      

Networking Lunch

1:45pm –

Afternoon Breakout Session (choose 1 of 2)

Session 3: 

Business Success on a Budget:
International Marketing Strategies

  • Hear how to effectively market to the global customer
  • Understand cultural differences between marketing in the US and other countries
  • Learn how to transfer your brand values to different markets

Manuel Merkt
Executive Vice President Operations
Hermle Machine Company

Andrew Strauchen 
Vice President - Marketing & Business Development North America

Christa Tiefenbacher-Hudson
Co-founder & Managing Director
Triple Ink

Ralf Weber
President & CEO, 
m/e brand communication GmbH GWA

Session 4: 

Successful Growth:
Opportunities and Challenges of M&A

  • Explore how to grow your business through mergers and acquisitions
  • Hear best practise examples
  • Learn about common pitfalls in the M&A field

James Knudson
Partner Assurance Services, 

Christoph Sitzer
Hegele Logistic LLC

Darragh Staunton
President & Group COO
BBS Automation 

Jennifer Watson
Masuda Funai

3:00pm –

Wrap up & Networking     


Annual Members Meeting



Judit Ludwig-Janosy

Membership & Events Coordinator

+1 (312)-494-2176
+1 (312) 644-0738
E-Mail schreiben

2017 Attendee Overview

Sponsorship Opportunities

Please take the time to review the sponsorship packages at the Midwest SME Forum 2019.