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  • Under Armour: Creating The Biggest, Baddest Brand On The Planet

    Great companies have to manage the cadence of what they do.

    Kevin Plank admittedly perspired a lot back in the early 1990s when he was a special teams player on the University of Maryland football team. After finishing his football career, Plank decided to find a solution to the problem. He spent the next several months going back and forth between his final classes as an undergraduate and a nearby tailor shop, where Plank tested fabrics for their sturdiness, water repellent qualities and comfort.

    The result was the first form-fitting, moisture wicking Under Armour shirts — the iconic product of what is now, a little more than a decade later, a billion dollar company. Under Armour still sells those shirts, but it has expanded into many corners of the athletic/casual wear market, from compression shorts to sports bras, innovative mouth guards and basketball shoes. During a recent presentation co-sponsored by Wharton Leadership Lectures and the Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative, Plank, the company’s founder and CEO, said he was proud of what he and Under Armour have accomplished in such a short span, and predicted significant growth for the company in the future.

    “Great companies have to manage the cadence of what they do. “Chapter One” [of a business’s growth trajectory] has to relate right to Chapter Two and Chapter Three and Chapter Four,” Plank noted. “Every great brand is like a great story. Every commercial we run, every product we make, is like a chapter in that book. If we don’t manage the cadence, though, we will get too far ahead of ourselves.”

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