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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives
Melissa Lackey

Melissa Lackey

President & CEO

Standing Partnership

Location: St. Louis, MO

Founded: 1991

Industry: Marketing & Consulting

Melissa Lackey is president and CEO of Standing Partnership and comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Her grandfather owned a construction business, and her father had his own architectural engineering firm. From early on in her career, Lackey sought the opportunity to run her own business.

“I assembled and led an ownership group to buy out the founder of Standing Partnership,” Lackey said. “I worked for and was mentored by her for 10-plus years. She needed a succession plan, and I wanted to own my own company. Standing Partnership had so much potential. I was excited to take it to the next level.”

Standing Partnership is a marketing consultancy that helps organizations acquire new customers, retain existing customers and remove barriers to growth. The company, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2022, focuses primarily on B2B companies in technology, manufacturing, agriculture and professional services.

Originally a journalism major, Lackey started her career as a communications professional in the financial services sector, but she was drawn to the business side. In 1999, Lackey joined Standing Partnership as an account manager and, in 10 years, rose to the president role. In 2014, Lackey bought the business.

Under Melissa’s leadership, Standing Partnership transformed from a traditional PR firm into a consultancy focused on reputation management and, eventually, into a marketing consultancy. “In addition, Melissa pivoted the company’s value proposition to center on business goals, resulting in a multifaceted offering of marketing, sales and communication services,” the company said. “Today, Standing Partnership is a growing WBENC-certified women-owned business, currently co-owned by Melissa and COO Julie Steininger.”

In the next five years, Lackey and the leadership team at Standing Partnership aim to double revenue to $10 million. The focus on the technology sector has yielded 20% year-after-year revenue growth, and the company plans to expand its footprint in the sustainability reporting space and maintain its focus on the agriculture and professional services industries. Standing Partnership expects to continue to expand its team, following the addition of seven new employees in 2022.

Giving back is part of Standing Partnership’s DNA. Lackey creates opportunities for her team to volunteer and pursue their passions and interests, whether it’s serving on boards or participating in community service.

Standing Partnership offers all full-time employees up to eight hours of volunteer time per year. Each year, the Standing team selects a “done-in-a-day” project for company-wide volunteer efforts that need hands-on assistance, such as packing boxes at the St. Louis Area Foodbank or planting community gardens. Lackey invites employee families, partners and clients to participate to maximize the company’s impact.

Over the past 30 years, Standing Partnership has supported more than 100 community organizations, including Our Little Haven, Lydia’s House, Boys Hope Girls Hope, Gateway Greening and Epworth Drop-in Center. In 2021, Standing Partnership contributed more than $87,000 and was named a finalist in the St. Louis Business Journal’s annual Corporate Philanthropy Awards for small businesses.

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To her team and peers, Melissa is known for her vision, savviness, and quick thinking. Privately, Melissa describes herself as adventurous and spontaneous. At work, these qualities show up as fearlessness in trying new things and rewarding the team in fun ways (offering paid time off to the team to recharge batteries or planning fun outings, such as ax throwing, visits to wineries and other fun venues). Melissa’s family and friends describe her as fun, thoughtful and loyal. She puts 110% effort into everything she does and recently planned her daughter’s wedding amid a growth period at the firm, both no small feats. The irony in all of this, while Melissa’s personal and professional endeavors know no bounds, is that she has a paralyzing fear of physical heights.


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