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With some corporate headquarters trickling away from the St. Louis area over the years, some have lamented that the city feels like more of a branch office town nowadays.

Try telling that to Daugherty Business Solutions.

Since its founding in 1985, the consulting company has not only maintained its Creve Coeur headquarters amid dramatic, nationwide expansion, but has anchored that growth through relationships with a list of Fortune 500-caliber clients — including many of the major corporate players with deep St. Louis ties, such as Anheuser-Busch, Express Scripts, Monsanto and now, Bayer.

Executives said Daugherty employs approximately 1,300 people in offices around the country, with about 600 based in the St. Louis area.

Internally, the firm’s leadership says that its success largely centers on ensuring that it is a supportive and rewarding workplace, able to attract — and retain — the best and brightest.

“Having Daugherty as a destination workplace is a big thing for us,” said John Wirth, the company’s senior vice president.

And to hear a range of employees tell it — from tenured veterans to relative newcomers — the company may be onto something.

Daugherty generated perhaps the most praise from its St. Louis-area personnel for its dedication to fostering training and educational opportunities —an important quality when it comes to troubleshooting clients’ challenges through an emphasis on ever-shifting fields like data and analytics.

But orienting a culture around learning and personal growth also helps make for a stimulating and fulfilling workplace experience, employees say.

“You don’t run into a glass ceiling here thanks to constant growth,” said Amber Schanter, a senior consultant who has been with the company for about a year. “The day to day is really filled with, again, training yourself to grow in the industry.”

Those educational opportunities include more than just small doses of training and skill development woven into daily life. There’s also a regimen called “Daugherty University” — an eight-week training program for employees to hone problem-solving and technical skills. The process usually culminates with the development of “a program or application that helps our business along,” said Wirth.

Some employees said Daugherty has managed to strike a rare balance.

“It’s the right mix of autonomy and support,” said Jim Schaeffler, a senior director for the company, explaining that no one is “looking over his shoulder” but that help is always available, if he seeks it out.

While he enjoys the freedom that Daugherty’s work philosophy promotes, he and others said teamwork is another strength of the company. For instance, although Schaeffler works primarily with Express Scripts, he says that, with the company’s encouragement, he is able to “connect the dots” on applicable problems for other clients.

It helps, he adds, that he thoroughly enjoys his co-workers.

“I have my own term for it,” said Schaeffler. “I’m surrounded by people with smarts and heart.”

But the company’s growth and success doesn’t mean that workers need to sacrifice fun or individuality while on the job — quite the opposite, they say.

“You didn’t have to forfeit your personality and goals. It’s not all about work,” said D’Andre O’Neal, an associate consultant. “You’re building yourself up vocationally, but also personally.”

For proof of that, company representatives said that a break room takes center stage as a gathering place and “happy hour” spot on Friday afternoons. At other times, the space plays host to employee board game nights.

“This place is hopping at the end of a week,” said Wirth, while leading a tour through the area.

Employees also praised Daugherty for its philanthropic commitments. Some mentioned, for instance, that workers are able to help funnel monetary gifts from the company to their favorite charities.

“If our employees have good causes that are meaningful to them, then we want to get involved,” said Wirth.

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Reporter covering energy and the environment for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.