Football. It’s a pretty big deal, especially in the South. Becoming the champion is what football teams and coaches dream of. Ron Poe, former head football coach to McKinney High School, led his team to victory in the 1979 AAA State Championship and continues to help lead schools to a better game day today, but from a different angle – Daktronics.
Ron held a few different positions before coming to McKinney and becoming the head coach. He was a school principal, an athletic director and then started as an assistant coach at McKinney before moving into the head coaching position. He must have done something right, with the team’s state victory.
Ron served as coach at McKinney for 31 years before hanging up his whistle. “I was very fortunate to be at McKinney. They had a winning tradition and it was my charge to keep it going. I had a lot of support from the town, from the school’s administration, the McKinney residents and good coaches that helped me with that. I credit being surrounded by good people.”
“The town loved football. We had a 7,000-seat stadium and filled it up every time we played. During playoff games, the whole town shut down and everybody followed the team wherever we went.”
How much impact can one coach have at a high school? For a coaching legend like Ron Poe, quite a bit. Enough that the school’s stadium was renamed in his honor. “I was at McKinney for 30 years. I decided it was time to retire. When I heard that McKinney’s school board moved to name their stadium after me it was such an honor!”
Ron didn’t have to guess who his neighbor would be at the retirement village, either. His twin brother Don built a home right next to his. The brothers share more than a zip code, however. Don was also a coach and athletic director, but in Irving, Texas, and also as President of the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association.
One day, Don’s phone rang. Frank Kurtenbach called, wanting to know if Don would be interested to learn more about Daktronics and its presence in the football industry. Don was interested, and not long after, went to work for Daktronics. After telling Ron about his experience, he started working at Daktronics a few years later, as well.
Both Poes continue to work for Daktronics despite having previously retired from their coaching careers. Why did they make the leap, and how do the careers intersect? “It’s all about relationships,” Ron continued. “We were fortunate at McKinney that we won so much. We had good programs, and both Don and I coached as men of integrity.
“Now, as Daktronics employees, when Don and I go to schools to discuss displays and the company, they already know our names. We talk for maybe 45 mins total, but only 15 minutes of that is about Daktronics and the product. The rest is talking football. They see we know what we’re talking about. If we say it’s a good product, they trust our expertise.”
“Sales is naturally a part of a relationship. In the past year, we’ve sold 3 large video products in the state. Daktronics offers great products.”
“I don’t know that I’m even a salesman to be honest. I simply believe in our company and products. Just as in coaching, you should have integrity in sales, also. They need to know you and what you believe in – the product – and how they’ll be treated. Tell people the truth, then let them decide if they want to buy or not.”