NEW YORK: While working together in 2009 as senior account supervisors at Hill & Knowlton, Gordon Pennoyer and Andrew Wilson dreamed about starting a PR firm together. More than 10 years later, they’ve launched DrivePath Advisors, offering services in financial communications, crisis management, ESG, sustainability and corporate positioning.
With a virtual presence and by meeting clients where they are, the agency anticipates adding two to five employees in the upcoming year.
The firm has the support of industry leaders, through FHS Capital Partners with investors Bob Feldman, founder of Feldman + Partners; Bill Heyman, CEO of Heyman Associates; and Don Spetner, senior corporate adviser at Weber Shandwick and a PRWeek columnist.
Feldman, cofounder of FHS, underscored Wilson’s and Pennoyer’s expertise in bankruptcy, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions and financial communications. He said the firm has exceeded revenue projections after a month in business.
“Long-term, we expect consistent and aggressive growth, and believe this will be a $10 million to $15 million consultancy in five years,” Feldman said.
In May, Wilson left his position as executive director at KPMG in New York City. Russ Grote, executive director at the company, has replaced Wilson and has taken on expanded responsibilities, according to a KPMG spokesperson.
Most recently, Pennoyer served as director of community and investor relations at Chesapeake Energy in Oklahoma City for almost a decade. The energy company is evaluating whether to hire a replacement or to manage Pennoyer’s former duties with restructured responsibilities. DrivePath will handle PR for Chesapeake, making it one of the firm’s initial clients.
Wilson was an aide to former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) and senior director of external and media relations at Fannie Mae before joining Edelman as SVP of financial communications and capital markets.
Pennoyer’s experience includes working for the Republican National Convention, ultimately serving as deputy director of media operations, from August 2007 to September 2008.
“We started in the political arena, headed into the agency world and had deep in-house experience,” said Pennoyer. “We’ve literally been in our clients’ shoes.”
The firm’s other founding clients include a niche financial services business. DrivePath is building the company’s broader narrative to include storytelling with its mission and values. It’s also assisting a digital fintech company in building its profile after it received a significant private equity investment and appointed a new CEO.
Pennoyer said financial communications is a rapidly evolving area with stakeholder capitalism, ESG, activist investors and more attention on how companies treat their employees.
“The days of every quarter you report good numbers, then you’re a blue chip stock forever, that’s not here anymore,” he said. “We’re going to try to help our clients, leaders in the C-suite and board members tackle those issues because when organizations and firms fail in that, it has a bottom line impact on their business.”