Army veteran, Auburn resident Don Crow reminisces on military career, path to small business ownership


By Morgan Bryce

Serving others has been the life mantra of Don Crow, a seven-year U.S. Army veteran and current owner of the Auburn-based advertising agency Verge Pipe Media.
Born in the small town of Ninety-Six, South Carolina, Crow lived there until he was 7 years old, when his family relocated to Anniston for his father’s career with the Department of the Army at Fort McClellan.
After graduating from Pleasant Valley High School, Crow attended the nearby Jacksonville State University, where he majored in English and minored in military history.
During his time at Jacksonville State, Crow was a member of the school’s ROTC program and received his commission after graduation. He soon joined the 28th Infantry Regiment, better known as the Black Lions, at Fort Jackson, South Carolina in 1993.
A major highlight of Crow’s Army career came during his involvement in Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 and 1996, which was historic for being the first time U.S. and Russian troops had shared a similar mission. He served as an adjutant to the Assistant Division Commander for Support, helping coordinate operational deployments in Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Albania on NATO-led missions.
Pursuing a long-time dream, Crow returned home from duty overseas in 1998 and took over as the Black Lions’ company commander, a role he would fill for the next three years until relinquishing his command in May 2000.
“To some degree, especially when you’re deployed, you’re tested mentally, emotionally and physically every day. So, you learn a lot of perspective,” Crow said. “I got to see parts of the world that most people don’t, and got to live in Europe for a little over three years. It’s a time I’ll look back over fondly but definitely thankful for the experience. The best part was the people I worked with and the camaraderie I shared with them.”
Fresh out of the military, Crow began searching for his next career. In 2000, many companies were looking for candidates like him in sales positions because of proven leadership qualities and effective communication skills.
Interviewing with a number of companies, one company in particular struck his fancy and ended up becoming his next employer.
“In the late ’90s and early 2000s, we all had access to email and the internet, but there was still so much mystery about what it was and what it would become. Companies like AOL were dominating the news for their pushes in that realm, and I knew that’s where I wanted to work,” Crow said.
Starting as a sales coach with the company and based in Jacksonville, Florida, Crow quickly worked his way up the ranks with the booming tech giant, staying with AOL for nearly eight years before accepting a job at Auburn University.
Though Crow grew up in South Carolina and northern Alabama, his mother and several relatives were all Auburn alumni. After a brief stroll on campus back in 2005, he said he knew within minutes that he had found his next home.
“I always knew it was a special place because I’ve always been passionate in attending Auburn sporting events. But, coming at it and looking through the lens of actually living here, the instant I knew was when I started walking across the lawn in front of Samford Hall,” Crow said.
Accepting the director position of corporate and foundation relations at Auburn University in November 2008, Crow actively worked to maintain solid partnerships with major companies like Coca-Cola and Home Depot that actively funded school developments and projects.
Shortly into his tenure with the university, Crow started feeling an entrepreneurial itch to start his own business.
In 2010, with assistance from his wife Katie, Crow was able to realize his dream by founding and launching Verge Pipe.
“I wanted to be an entrepreneur – the bug had always been there, but I wasn’t ready for a full-fledged agency at first. Agency life is hard because it is very much a service (oriented) business,” Crow said. “We were that typical, dysfunctional start-up for that first several years after we opened.”
Two years later, he left his job with the university to fully concentrate on growing Verge Pipe, a role he still holds presently.
Advertising in this digital age poses daily challenges and constant education for Crow and his team. Clients representing a myriad of businesses, industries and organizations rely on Verge Pipe for billboard and television advertising, social media content management, video production and website design and development.
“The projects we do are fun, but (can be) kind of hard to build business around,” Crow said. “Clients are very much like individuals – they want results, usually right now. I always try to walk them through a scenario of lifetime customer value … how to develop a deeper relationship with their (customers), get them to come back and tell their friends about it. That’s always a challenge I’ve embraced and enjoyed helping companies solve.”
When he isn’t tied up with clients or ongoing campaigns, Crow enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, enjoying an afternoon drive in his Jeep, reading and watching college football, particularly Auburn. Katie is a practicing family law attorney at the Gullage and Tickal Law Firm in Opelika.
For more information about Verge Pipe, call 334-750-5193, like and follow its social media pages, or visit The agency is located at 166 N. Gay St., Suite 11 in Auburn.


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