By Ellen Chlumecky
Kevin Plank, Under Armour founder and CEO, started his company 18 years ago in his grandmother’s basement. Starting out with a stretchy undershirt that football players wore under their equipment to suck the sweat away from their bodies. Today, Under Armour is expected to see sales past $3 billion for 2014. This accomplishment has placed Under Armor at the second largest domestic sportswear company, behind powerhouse rival Nike.
A couple years ago, Under Armour was well known but was nowhere near the success rate it is today. It is now not only hip but has become a trend in the sports world to wear Under Armour. To the every day runner or the gym rat, Under Armour seems to be surging to the top of the charts. After passing Adidas, it’s true competition this year is Nike, while still far behind Plank’s goal this year is surpass them.
Everyone knows that long-lasting success does not come in one fell swoop. One must earn it with passion, honesty, quick thinking, and hard work. Kevin Plank did all that and more. Plank is all about pushing the envelope to as far as it can go.
One of the many reasons he has been able to make a name for himself is his desire to not just be a sporting goods brand. He thinks that he could go into bottled water to sports drinks to protein bars. Plank doesn’t want to contain his brand to one category.
Another reason he’s been so successful is because of the media attention Under Armor has been receiving. This summer they released a new women’s line featuring American Ballet Theatre star Misty Copeland. While she may just seem like an ordinary athlete, she has an amazing back story. She was rejected from ballet school at the age of 13 because she did not have “the body of a ballerina.” She ignored the criticism and worked day in and day out to achieve her dream. Under Armour continues this thought process by endorsing athletes who refuse to bend from criticism. Athletes like Gisele Bundchen, Lindsey Vonn, Tom Brady, andare just a few of the superb athletes endorsed by Under Armour.
Under Armour does a great job of endorsing female athletes. Especially women who have overcome hardship to be successful today. Under Armour is providing a positive example to female athletes and even aspiring female athletes. Which might have to do with women’s sports apparel sales going up and women’s sports apparel being 30% of their overall sales.
Kevin Plank is truly never satisfied. They have 18 consecutive of 20% revenue growth, 4 consecutive quarters up to 30%, and international sales are up almost 86% this year. Yet Plank still believes it isn’t enough. Plank’s love of winning and his fear of losing drive him to compete with Nike, or as he likes to call them, “those guys in Oregon.”