Steve Epley is, first and foremost, a man who loves to think.

STEVE EARNED HIS PH.D. FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA and eventually became a college professor. He then turned to a career in research—first as an academic, then at the Institute of Child Behavior and Development at his alma mater, and finally at Frank N. Magid Associates, the nation’s leading research and consulting firm serving the broadcast industry. At Magid, Steve served top clients such as the ABC Network in New York City. He became the firm’s director of research and later created a division of the company to serve clients in health care, banking, and higher education.

IN 1987, STEVE FOUNDED EPLEY RESEARCH & CONSULTING. The company quickly became known for its highly personalized approach to researching customers. Epley Research & Consulting has served some of the nation’s largest and best companies.

DRIVEN BY HIS LOVE OF UNCOVERING WHAT LIES BENEATH THE SURFACE of what customers say and do, Steve leads a research team that helps companies discern what it takes to be successful and to build solid, mutually beneficial relationships with the people they do business with. In the summer of 2014, Steve welcomed his daughter Rachel Epley to help lead the company she grew up with. 


Photo: Tom Witta, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Photo: Tom Witta, Minneapolis Star Tribune

BORN AND RAISED ON A FARM IN CENTRAL IOWA, Steve had once dreamed of following in the footsteps of his father, an agronomist who was a pioneer in the seed corn business. Steve did finally make his way back to the farm. Today, he and his wife Kathy reside on 42 acres in the rolling hills west of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, accompanied by an occasional turkey and a small flock of chickens.


Photo: Tom Witta, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Photo: Tom Witta, Minneapolis Star Tribune

about rachel epley

AS A TEACHER, ADMINISTRATOR, AND PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN, RACHEL HAS LEARNED TO LEAD BY LISTENING. Rachel brings that ability and a diverse portfolio of skills and experiences to her role in guiding Epley Research & Consulting toward its fourth decade of service. And one key element has defined her journey: she is a researcher’s daughter.

RACHEL HAS LEARNED THE RESEARCH BUSINESS ALMOST LITERALLY FROM THE GROUND UP. Her earliest duties included cleaning the floors and painting the walls of Epley’s headquarters. Over the course of her schooling and through the early stages of her career, Rachel stayed connected to the firm, contributing her writing, editing, and research talents. This work fueled her passion for the rigorous pursuit of answers that characterizes an Epley study. Today, she participates in every aspect of the company’s work, from research design to interviewing to developing new information-delivery techniques.

RACHEL EARNED A BACHELOR'S DEGREE IN MUSIC FROM OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY, a master’s degree in trumpet performance from Northwestern University, and a master’s degree in music therapy from Illinois State University. From 1997 to 2007, she performed with orchestras from Miami to Napa Valley, and she held teaching positions that included an assistant professorship at the University of Alaska.

WHILE PRACTICING MUSIC THERAPY IN CHICAGO she co-founded and served as executive director of The Song in Me, a nonprofit dedicated to a treatment model based on the latest research in her field. Rachel directed the organization’s program design, mission, marketing, and outreach.

RACHEL LIVES IN CHICAGO WITH HER HUSBAND, PAUL, AND HER PUG OWEN, a pet therapy dog. She enjoys baking grain-free treats and crocheting, and she is learning to play the harp.