After a few years of sweating profusely as a walk on full back on the University of Maryland’s gridiron, Plank found his niche. A natural born hustler, Plank realized he was better suited up as a business man and not an athlete after creating his own jobs to make money during the football season. Soon he set out on a path to create performance underwear that can remain dry or relatively dry during high impact sports after being dubbed “the sweatiest guy on the football field.”
Plank single handedly created his company by running through various prototypes and testing fabrics to determine which types held the best qualities of water repellant, durability, and comfort. Plank finally discovered the perfect under shirt to keep the modern athlete dry and it was a far from your basic sweat drenched cotton t-shirt. It was the first form-fitting, moisture wicking Under Armour shirt. From the shirt came the compression shorts, then the sports bras, then a full blown athletic gear empire that has teams ordering from little league to the pros.
Under Armour’s humble beginnings started in his grandmother’s townhouse in Washington D.C. in 1996. His cushion was about $20,000 he made during another business venture while in college, Cupid’s Valentine where he sold roses for Valentine’s Day. He sent samples of his shirts to his former teammates that went on to play professional football. His days consisted of calling athletic equipment managers for sales. When sales didn’t take off after his shirt being modeled on the cover of USA Today, Plank realized it was going to take real work and not fools luck to create a great business. It was indeed a slow climb to major profit for Under Armour. Plank went from depending on credit cards to level the company month to month, to netting $1 billion in 2009. Notably, Plank was not on the payroll until three years after the birth of Under Armour. Under Armour is now a household name.
Under Armour’s target market is now children. Reaching them as young as possible is of most importance. As far as Plank is concerned if he can get an 8 year old in Under Armour that child will wear the brand forever and may even become the world’s next sports sensation. The youth is marketing for the future. With the company’s next goal being to hit hard in the footwear apparel market, the youth is a good place to start.