Ron Morris’ career is right on track, and he has firmly landed in
The former pole vaulter, who won a silver medal in the 1960
Olympic Games in Rome, has watched his local business go from being
in a garage space to becoming a Burbank track-and-field sporting
goods business that last year pulled in more than $1 million.
In November, he and his staff will celebrate 25 years in business.
“We’re not getting rich or anything, but it is a viable business
for us,” Morris said.
But after selling his first Bob Seagren signature Pacer III
vaulting pole in November 1978, Morris, a former head track coach and
physical education teacher at Cal State Los Angeles, feels
comfortable he has found his niche.
“You almost have to sell not just in the area, you have to sell
nationwide,” he said.
With a mail-order catalog business, he managed to tap
track-and-field enthusiasts across the country.
It took a while -- not to mention a little notoriety and a nagging
awareness that it was difficult for track-and-field enthusiasts to
find the equipment they wanted for reasonable prices at larger
sporting goods franchises.
But Morris was a coach and a proven world-class athlete, so he had
connections. After all, this was, according to his resume, the sixth
man to clear 15 feet in the pole vault event in 1956, and he was ranked by Track and Field News in 1978 as the second-best pole
vaulter in terms of length jumped in history. That, along with his
own innovations and experience, prompted the idea that he could share
his ideas about products with other coaches. It took a little
“A friend was in the equipment business and said, ‘Why don’t you
give it a try?’ ” he said.
So, he sold the first vaulting pole and began getting the word out
about his garage business at his Burbank home. He even remembered a
time when basketball great Wilt Chamberlain bought equipment from
In time, Morris was able to move to a larger warehouse and
published what he called a “half-baked” catalog in 1988. It was
distributed to school athletic programs nationwide.
“It took a while, but little by little, we grew,” he said.
Now, his online catalog of inventory consists of equipment for
everything from shotput and discus to javelin and hurdles.
He is trying to be contemporary while not sacrificing service, he
“We have resisted shop cart technology on our Web site because we
like to talk to our customers and we like to coach our coaches,” said
Dana Morris, Morris’ daughter, who runs the advertising and
promotions wing of the business.
The business has also been getting into renting equipment to the
entertainment industry. Its new and vintage items have become fodder
for television, film and commercial shoots. The NBC drama “American
Dreams” used On Track period athletic equipment for the show.
Still, the business was an extension of the athletic world in
which Morris rose to the top during his youth.
“When I got out of the coaching end of it, I said to myself, ‘I’ve
been doing all my life, and I love the sport. How can I stay with