Epic Pivot combines two values-driven firms into a statewide consultancy with a large geographic reach

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

There’s significance in the name of a merged firm that combines the expertise and assets of Knoxville-based Pedal and Southern Growth Studio which has offices in both Memphis and Nashville.

Epic Pivot is the name of the new values-driven consulting firm that was officially unveiled Wednesday. It is focused on human-centered innovation, something that the principals in both firms clearly understand.

“People need to pivot, but it has to be significant,” says Southern Growth’s Michael Graber in explaining the name. “They need to hit the big reset button. It’s purposeful transformation.”

For Graber and Pedal’s Jay Morgan, it’s a reunion of sorts, going back to the latter’s days when he was based in Memphis with Merck Consumer Care that was later bought by Bayer Healthcare. We captured some of that history in a two-part series in early January 2018 (Part 1 and Part 2), about a year after Morgan moved to Knoxville.

Jay Morgan

“I worked with the Studio on many projects at both Merck and Bayer,” he told us on Tuesday. “Michael and I launched the Memphis Innovation Bootcamp together. Joining forces will allow us to better serve more than 250 corporate, nonprofit, and municipal clients who want to be a force of good in the world.”

Morgan said that Graber approached the Pedal team about four or five months ago to explore the possibility. Both firms were operating similarly but at different ends of the state. Pedal’s current partners – Mark McComas, and Scott Buchanan – will join with Southern Growth’s executive team of Graber, Mark Levine, and Tabitha Scott. The combination, coupled with a new service offering, is expected to also offer new growth opportunities.

Epic Pivot will build on the 15-year history of providing market and customer insights, growth and product strategy, and innovation consulting while also offering the new purposeful-driven transformation service, based on needs both firms noticed in the market.

“At first we were called into organizations to diagnose why their digital transformations were failing, and they were failing around 70 percent of the time,” Levine explained. “We saw it wasn’t the technology. These organizations failed to value their people as the force of real competitive advantage. The pandemic has shown that organizations are facing a crisis of culture and need to align their growth, products, and technology around a clear values-driven purpose.”

Michael Graber

Graber provided some additional explanation, pointing readers to a book titled Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose. It describes how brands such as Costco®, Commerce Bank, Wegmans and Whole Foods® earn the powerful loyalty and affection that enables truly breathtaking performance. “Those that fail don’t work on the culture or focus on the people,” he said. “These are companies that do well by doing good.”

Epic Pivot will introduce this framework and methodology to guide organizations through purposeful transformation.

“Amid the tumultuous events of the last 24 months, companies have come under pressure to discuss how they work in the interests of all stakeholders, not just shareholders,” said Graber. “Our team offers organizations a path to meet their ESG (environmental, social, and governance) goals, better engage and inspire their employees, and better serve their clients, as well as the communities where they work – the whole value chain.”

During Tuesday’s interview, McComas said Epic Pivot will engage with companies where they are as long as they want to move forward.

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