No. 11: Kevin Plank
EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, UNDER ARMOUR
Kevin Plank’s road to international business success started about 25 years ago in his grandmother’s basement in Georgetown. The former University of Maryland football player came up with the design for sweat-wicking shirts there that grew into Under Armour, a global sports brand that now competes with Nike and Adidas.
The Baltimore-based corporation and its founder have struggled in recent years. Under Armour cut about 600 jobs in September as profits fell sharply because of the pandemic. But in the fourth quarter of 2020, the company showed strong signs of beginning a turnaround.
Plank stepped down as chief executive officer in early 2020 to become executive chairman and its brand chief, turning over the CEO post to company president Patrik Frisk.
In the last 15 years, Plank has expanded his reach. He was a prime mover in the redevelopment of Port Covington, unveiled in 2016 after Plank and Weller Development founder Marc Weller bought land there. The massive South Baltimore project is scheduled to be the future home of Under Armour’s global headquarters, a project now on hold as the pandemic has struck the economy.
He has owned Sagamore Farm, the estate once owned by the Vanderbilt family, since 2007 and raced thoroughbreds from there for years. Plank opened the Sagamore Spirit distillery and the upscale Sagamore Pendry Hotel. He also pledged $25 million in 2014 to the University of Maryland for its expansion project at its Cole Field House.
Under Armour had $17,000 in sales in 1996, it first year in business. By 2018, it reported $5.2 billion in sales. So Plank knows a thing or two about entrepreneurial success, something he talked about in a rare interview in 2014.
“Success doesn’t happen quickly,” he told The Washington Post. “It happens from doing the same thing over and over, becoming great at it, and delivering great value to consumers. It takes time, and that’s why I’m such an advocate for, if you have an idea, get it out there, find out if it can sell, and if it does, move to version two, move to version three, and find a way.”