by Chas Withers

November 15, 2023

November 1, 2023, was a momentous day for our firm. That morning, we completed the acquisition of the St. Louis-based marketing firm Standing Partnership, in a move that is among the boldest we’ve made in our 71-year history.

The deal came about through a collaborative relationship that Dix & Eaton and Standing Partnership have maintained and grown over the course of the last decade. A fellow firm in Worldcom (a global consortium of communications and marketing consultancies), Standing Partnership is a 32-year-old firm owned by two women, Melissa Lackey and Julie Steininger, both of whom have been friends of ours for some time. Our two firms are already partners in shared workstreams spanning sustainability/ESG, branding, creative, crisis, PR and marketing.

Melissa, in particular, has become a trusted advisor and business partner – first for our former Chairman, Scott Chaikin, and ultimately for me as well. She and her team have strategically built and grown a highly successful firm, focusing heavily on the value chain connecting companies directly to customers via marketing automation and content marketing. They developed unique strength in the technology sector and built amazing client partnerships with some of the premier brands in that space.

About a year ago, Melissa first broached the question of whether D&E had any potential interest in the pairing of the two firms. Thus began a lengthy due-diligence and discussion process – rooted in trust and shared affinity – that resulted in a transaction whereby Standing Partnership is now part of Dix & Eaton.

What that means, for the combined entity, is an opportunity to grow, expand into new areas, fulfill larger engagements and develop first-in-class offerings that neither firm would have been able to do solely on its own. We now have more than 70 associates and span 10 states, bringing a wider array of expertise and experience than either firm had prior. It unlocks for us a level of potential impact that we’ve not had at any other moment in our long existence.

It also means that we’re adding many members into our ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan, to which we converted in 2014) and will be providing our entire team with the unique wealth-building attributes that come from 100% self-ownership. We’ll now be among the largest employee-owned communications and marketing firms in the country.

Most importantly, however, is that we’re taking two distinctly authentic, people-first cultures and bringing them together in a way that provides additional professional development opportunities for every single person – in an environment of colleagues who genuinely care about each other, and care deeply about the success of clients and partners. Having spent time this past week with their entire team – both individually and collectively – I know there is an appetite to immediately dive in together on client service, business development, shared learning and overall integration, which will take place over the course of 2024.

Together, we now boast a nationally prominent sustainability/ESG practice; an integrated marketing group that blends top-of-the-funnel branding and strategic planning with downstream execution in sales enablement; and a Midwest-leading set of highly experienced practitioners in change, issues and crisis management. We also now have deep connections in the technology, agriculture, manufacturing, professional services and non-profit sectors.

So, November 1st was indeed a momentous day for Standing Partnership and for Dix & Eaton, and now we march forth with a level of excitement, enthusiasm and engagement for a combined future that builds on the long histories of both firms while elevating opportunity to new horizons. We can’t wait to start writing that new book together, and today starts the first chapter.