Monday, March 28, 2011
Kevin Plank is a Very New Giant in a Sports Clothes Business
One of the best examples of the modern and local entrepreneur is Kevin Plank.
Kevin Plank, is the founder and chief executive of Baltimore-based Under Armour, the highly successful sports apparel company. He is talented entrepreneur who turned Under Armour from cash-starved brand into a legitimate Nike and Reebok opponent.
Frustrated by his sweat-soaked cotton T-shirt’s, he started look for a material that would wick the sweat from his body and provide muscles support.
Plank recalls sitting in his dorm room during his senior year at Maryland and drawing the first Under Armour shirt. “I thought, ‘I figured it out, I am going to make a T-shirt,’ ” Plank says. He bought fabric that he hoped could combine the snug fit of a “Hanes cotton T-shirt” and the lightness and fast-drying texture of synthetic, stretchy fabrics used in women’s lingerie. He found a tailor outside College Park and paid him “$480” to sew seven prototypes. Plank then had football teammates and athletes from other Maryland teams test them.
Plank says he built his company using the same principles he learned during his years on the football field.
By the end of 1996, Plank says Under Armour had generated $17,000 in revenue purely by word of mouth. The next year he had $100,000 in orders to fill and found a factory in Ohio to make the shirts. He had gone through the $17,000 from the rose business in college and run up $40,000 in debt across five credit cards.
The company first made a profit in 1998, but a pivotal moment came in 1999 with the release of Oliver Stone’s football movie Any Given Sunday, in which actor Jamie Foxx wore an Under Armour jockstrap in a locker room scene. After hearing about the movie through a Fork Union teammate, Plank sent samples of his products to the costume designer and convinced Stone’s assistant to pay for the Under Armour goods.
With the Stone movie about to be released, Plank decided that Under Armour had to tell its “story.” The company had only $25,000 to spend, and Plank put it all on an ad in ESPN The Magazine. He calls the move a turning point. “We generated close to $750,000 in sales from the advertisement,” he says. Three years after starting the company, Plank put himself on the payroll.
Submitted by: Olga Samokhvalova
1. Dessauer, C. (2009, march-april). Team Player. Retrieved 03 24, 2011, from bethesdamagazine.com: http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Magazine/March-April-2009/Team-Player/
2. Heath, T. (2010, January 24). Taking on the giants: How Under Armour founder Kevin Plank is going head-to-head with the industry's biggest players. Washington Post Staff Writer .
3. Salter, C. (2005, August 1). fast company. Retrieved March 23, 2011, from Protect This House : http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/97/under-armour.html