Kevin Plank is the founder and former CEO of Under Armour, the sports apparel company he founded in 1996 just after he graduated from the University of Maryland. The company today reported annual revenue in 2018 of $5.2 billion, employs more than 15,000 people and has offices in 21 cities around the globe. Quite a change from the small company Plank founded using his college savings, a credit card and a small business loan.
Forbes magazine estimated Plank’s net worth to be more than $1.8 billion in 2018. He and his wife, Desiree are well known for their philanthropy. They have been particularly generous to young entrepreneurs and to Plank’s alma mater, the University of Maryland. Plank is a colorful business leader and people love to quote him. It’s easy to see why. Plank is that American success story that so many aspire to emulate. He took an idea, made it successful and continued to grow the company to make it a major global corporation. Below is just a sampling of what Kevin Plank has had to say over the years:
Notable Kevin Plank quotes
- On what makes a company successful. “Great brands are like great stories. And every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And our job is to make sure that every chapter of our stories makes sense to the one in front of it and make sense to the one after it. There is no such thing as an overnight success. You have to get up and put your work boots on every single day.” Plank has said that while his success with Under Armour may have seemed to happen quickly, it was really the result of years of hard work and perseverance.
- On the early days of Under Armour. “I never knew exactly what [Under Armour] was going to look like, but more important, I got up every single day and never believed it couldn’t happen.” Plank maintains that the difference between dreamers and successful entrepreneurs is the willingness to work towards a goal, no matter how unlikely success may seem at the time.
- On branding. “Brand is not a product that’s for sure; it’s not one item. It’s an idea, it’s a theory, it’s a meaning, it’s how you carry yourself.” Plank attributes much of Under Armour’s success to building a brand that is instantly recognizable from the very beginning.
- On leadership. “Leadership is … to make sure you never limit the idea or opportunity. What I find myself doing more often than not is ensuring we have enough runway in front of us, ensuring that we are thinking about things [that are] big enough” Looking ahead, rather than spending too much time analyzing past results is a hallmark of Plank’s leadership style.
- On entrepreneurship. “It’s a fire, it’s a passion to get out and to create and to innovate. And that I’ve always enjoyed and I’ve always been very proud of is that the people I’ve done business with, the people around me have always made money.” Plank is very quick to acknowledge the people around him for helping make Under Armour a success. He often credits his days in business school at the University of Maryland for helping him learn how to complete projects as a team.
- On business meetings. “I end every meeting the same way — this is what I heard, this is what I think, and here’s what we’re going to do.” Plank has a great ability to digest a lot of information and distill it into useful nuggets. He uses this skill to make sure that everyone at one of his meetings understands what was said and what needs to happen next.
While Kevin Plank may have hung up his hat as the day-to-day leader of Under Armour, he is still a powerhouse of experience and knowledge for the entrepreneurial community. His quotes cut to the core of an issue or problem, while inspiring new business leaders to keep striving to reach their goals