ACQUIRING TRUE VALUE - 1 YEAR LATER

January 18, 2017 by Taylor Collins posted on Inside Epic

EPIC Champions, 

Today we celebrate a monumental anniversary that forever changed our lives as well as the legacy that is our company. In a heartfelt note that we published last year, Katie and I announced that EPIC Provisions was being acquired by General Mills and explained in detail why we made that decision. On the anniversary of this surreal event, we want to connect directly with our customers and communicate the challenges, progress, and accomplishments that we are proudest of. A year ago we asked you to do three things…

  1. Stay Passionate
  2. Continue to support and trust us
  3. Hold us accountable to our commitments of providing consumers nourishing food that values the importance of animal welfare and land regeneration

We also told you that this acquisition was not about General Mills changing EPIC, but rather EPIC changing General Mills. We encouraged you to hold us accountable, listen to what we say, and watch what we do. Now is the time for accountability and transparency into the revolution we promised to lead, and the adherence to our sacred founding values

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I will start by saying that this journey has not been easy. Revolutions are never easy and we have always believed that challenges make people stronger. One of the most amazing growths that we have had the pleasure of witnessing is the transformation of our employees from champions to ultra thoroughbred champions. In order to thrive working at EPIC you have to have a navy seal warrior spirit and operate fearlessly. It is a difficult job to be asked to grow a company over 300%, create supply chains that did not exist, drive industry leading innovation, and restore grasslands internationally.  Yet, the loyal and passionate team behind EPIC have pushed harder than imaginable to cease the opportunity to change the world, and Katie and I are incredibly proud of them.

Within the last year we have retained 100% of our heritage EPIC employees as well as hired over 40 new super humans. The growth that I have seen within our team is incredible and I couldn’t ask for a more passionate, hardworking, and inspiring group of people to accelerate the advancement and impact of our company. Much like before the acquisition, our employees live the EPIC brand, are united through land regeneration and animal welfare, and love crushing life everyday. We still operate EPIC independently at our World Headquarters in Austin, TX (with a pretty sick add-on), wear flip flops to anything important, curse like ranchers, and seize any opportunity to be outdoors. 

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When it comes down to the question “Why did you sell the company?” we always answer “The time for change is NOW”. To the frustration of our investors, we listened to our hearts and did what was best for the food movement, livestock industry, and planet as a whole.  Despite investor pressure to hold out for another year, grow the brand, and sell for a higher price, Katie and I believe that creating real change in the food industry is priceless, and the consumer revolution was more important than financial returns. From the beginning, it was our intention to utilize all the best parts of General Mills to accelerate our mission of large-scale grassland restoration and to create supply chains of pastured, grass-fed, and antibiotic free animals. With General Mills adding muscle to the brand, EPIC accomplished over 10x the impact we could have accomplished independently. We never built this company to be sold, we grew this company to change the world. Within the last year EPIC has sourced over 250,000 pounds of regenerative protein, has impacted millions of acres of grasslands through partnering with The Savory Institute, created new supply chains for pastured turkey, antibiotic free ducks, and antibiotic free pork skins (none of these existed at a large scale prior to this year).  

When reflecting on the last 12 months, there is so much Katie and I are proud of. Our business continues to set aspirational goals and our team runs at the opportunity, fully appreciating that everything we do at EPIC is creating a positive change in the world. We continue to operate with the premise that the truest value of business is to create a net positive return on the earth. 

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Being a part of a big company has shed tremendous insight and perspective on how this complicated food industry operates.  Big business is indeed slow. As frustrating as it has been, EPIC has lost speed in our ability to pivot and bring innovation to market. Big companies are also risk averse.  While EPIC pushes General Mills to take more risk, today we must be more calculated and cautious. In retrospect, this is a real advantage to being a small and independent business.

Despite these challenges, we have prevailed in influencing the culture at General Mills. Through our leadership, EPIC has succeeded in changing the narrative on "sustainability" at the executive level of one of the world’s largest food companies. To our delight, General Mills has adopted the idea of “regenerative” into its corporate language and environmental planning. First the first time in history, this 150-year-old multinational giant is devoting resources towards agricultural opportunities that create a net-positive return on the planet! This support has resulted in a new approach to the way big business plans to impact climate change. When the idea to adopt “Meatless Mondays” as a piece of the climate puzzle, hundreds of employees in Minneapolis challenged the notion and referenced EPIC’s ability to use regenerative livestock to sequester carbon. When I reflect on this, I am filled with joy that our values and ideas are starting to penetrate deep into the DNA of General Mills. Our words and actions are creating change within.

We are constantly reminded that NONE of this would be possible without consumers like yourself. You are the flames of this revolution that is forever changing the landscape of how food is produced. Every dollar you spend at the grocery store is a vote for which type of food system you support. When you purchase products from companies that align with your values and beliefs, you are sending a clear message to the those who are in the food industry. Companies like General Mills are listening and, as a result, investing in a future where mission-driven companies like EPIC can create true disruption within the food industry. 

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I have always been cautiously skeptical of big business as it is no secret that large corporations don’t have the best record sheets. On our journey over the last year, we have come to realize that the problem is NOT necessarily with big business itself, but rather the management and people within the business. I leave you with this idea: big business that has bad intentions is real fucking bad, but big business with good intentions is real fucking good.

We are committed to continue improving agricultural practices in the world, but we are also positioned to create real change that inspires other large multinational companies. Through your trust and support, we can teach industry that meaningful returns are more than dollars distributed to shareholders. The real value of business is creating ecological wealth for our planet, enriching lives of consumers, and doing it in a way that is profitable. When we accomplish this, we can change the world!

From the heart,

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