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October 09, 2016 | Tom Ballard

Parker Frost says “things are crazy” at BigWheel

BigWheelBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

“Things are crazy,” Parker Frost said over lunch recently at one of his favorite places – the Sunspot on Cumberland Avenue. “I’m travelling more than ever . . . we have a lot of large corporate clients.”

It had been more than three years since we published this profile on the gregarious Michigan native who moved to Knoxville in 1997 to be a manufacturing representative for his father. A good deal has changed since that 2013 interview, including the way that Frost describes his several ventures.

“We are a marketing and technology company run by a businessman, not a techie, and we are applying an ROI (return on investment) to what we do,” he explains. That’s says a lot . . . a businessman running his creative business as a business with an ROI for others…

There have also been organizational changes in that three-year period that have helped propel growth. Frost’s Digital Media Graphix’s (DMGx) firm acquired Bluegill Creative, a former PYA affiliate, and later assumed management of Voices Heard Media, another local start-up.

More recently, Frost rebranded much of his Knoxville-based, multi-dimensional enterprise as BigWheel. Gigmark is a separate but closely aligned Frost-founded company that is best known for its Interactive Flash DriveTM and Yakity AppTM products.

“I wanted a national brandable name that people would remember,” Frost said as he quickly noted that “brandable” was probably not a real word. Nonetheless, approaching things in a sometimes unconventional manner is a trait that acquaintances of Frost know as one of the characteristics that has contributed to his success.

The brand name that he eventually selected was one of three options considered. The other two – hula hoop and swizzle stick – were not available, but each reflected an important goal.

“I wanted a memorable name,” Frost added. “BigWheel is fun. We’re all about culture. It goes with my personality.”

While Knoxville is home base and BigWheel has a number of local clients like DeRoyal, Clayton Homes and Pet Safe, the company also claims some very well-known national brands. They include the Disney Channel, ABC, Fox Sports, Grand Ole Opry, Caesar’s Palace, and NASCAR.

“Taking over the management and running of Voices Heard opened-up new opportunities for us,” Frost noted.

BigWheel categorizes its services into three verticals – design (web, apps, logos, print and video), development (custom software, web and mobile apps, games and platforms), and marketing, a service that starts with understanding the reason a client’s enterprise exists.

Central to all of its work, however, is the firm’s focus as described in its tagline – clarity in marketing and digital.

“We build brands from the ground up through business strategy, marketing planning, and creative execution combined with unparalleled digital abilities,” Frost says. A core component that helps in the strategy development is the role that a well-known local organizational psychologist – Mike McIntyre – plays. He is both a consultant to BigWheel and a minority owner.

To illustrate the growth of firm and the reason for so much travel, Frost cited two examples – the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA).

“We are the agency of record for IMSA, a division of NASCAR,” Frost said. BigWheel just completed the redesign of the organization’s main website as well as the building-out of five subsites that coincide with IMSA’s five sanctioned series.

In the case of the VA, Frost says the emerging relationship started with the federal agency’s Orlando operation but could grow to a national opportunity.

“They found us,” he said, explaining that the VA wanted a better and more effective way to communicate with the 110,000 veterans it serves from the Central Florida facility. The solution draws on the multiple capabilities of BigWheel and its affiliated companies.

Starting with a Gigmark Interactive Flash DriveTM that is given to each veteran for, as the name implies, two-way communication, BigWheel also uses Voices Heard’s polling software to help the VA further understand what its clients require.

“We believe our work will help the VA move the satisfaction needle to be more positive,” Frost says. “We’re excited to do something for them to help the vets.”

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