Kevin Plank, CEO, president and founder of Under Armour, has been selected as the recipient of the 2013 Governor’s International Leadership Award. Plank will be honored at the World Trade Center Institute’s prestigious global business celebration on March 6 at the Jim Rouse Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore City. The awards event brings together more than 300 of the region’s key international business players to honor Maryland’s inspirational leaders with global reach.
The Governor’s International Leadership Award, the highest international award bestowed by Maryland, is given to those who through innovative methods, determination, creativity and dedication have provided a significant positive impact on Maryland and its global footprint. Only one individual is selected annually to receive the Governor’s Award, and Plank will be joining fellow Maryland business leaders with impressive global footprints, including among others Steve Phillips (president, Phillips Foods), Jim Perdue (president, Perdue), J.W. Marriott Jr., (chairman & CEO, Marriott International), Chip Mason (chairman & CEO, Legg Mason), Harold Adams (chairman emeritus, RTKL) and Helen Bentley (former congresswoman & president, Bentley & Associates).
“Kevin Plank’s passion for excellence and innovation has been the driving force behind his creation of a company that influences an entire industry,” said Dominick Murray, acting secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. “Maryland is fortunate to be home to a dynamic, cutting-edge company like Under Armour. With tremendous growth capabilities, inventive strategy and community outreach initiatives, Under Armour serves as a unique model for aspiring entrepreneurs and established businesses alike.”
Under Armour’s origin is a story as inspiring as they come. An entrepreneur at heart, Plank sold T-shirts and bracelets at rock concerts in his youth and also developed Cupid’s Valentine, an annual business that sold roses at the University of Maryland, where he received his degree in business administration. He used the earnings from Cupid’s Valentine to help underpin the birth of Under Armour.
As special teams captain of the University of Maryland’s football team, he noticed the discomfort and negative performance impact of wearing a heavy, wet cotton T-shirt. Like all great entrepreneurs, Plank recognized a problem as an opportunity and set out to find a solution.
In 1996, he took $500 and created seven prototypes of a polyester blend material, eventually selecting one to make his sweat-wicking T-shirt. With no professional business experience, Plank used the football network he established throughout the years to circulate the T-shirts to teams and players all over the country. Plank’s newly-established company took off, and he took his business from a locker room novelty to a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Under Armour now offers their products in over 25,000 stores worldwide and operates in over 60 countries.
Kevin Plank and his Under Armour journey have been recognized internationally and have received numerous awards. Plank was named the Small Business Administration’s 2001 Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the state of Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region; he was ranked No. 3 on Forbes‘ 40 under 40 most powerful CEOs list; and was recently cited as one of Esquire‘s most inspiring CEOs.
In addition to being the leader of Under Armour, Plank is a leader in the community. Plank sits on the Board of Trustees of the University of Maryland, Living Classrooms Foundation, the Board of John Hopkins Medicine, Start-Up America and the Greater Baltimore Committee. Plank’s community focus is also reflected in Under Armour’s many charitable activities, the largest of which are Win Baltimore, Power in Pink, UA Freedom and the UA Youth Movement. Plank donates 10 percent of his own stock sales to the Cupid Foundation, which focuses on philanthropic projects in Maryland, with a particular emphasis on public education in Baltimore.
About the International Leadership Awards Event:
Date: March 6, 2013
Time: 5 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Jim Rouse Visionary Center, a part of the American Visionary Arts Museum, 800 Key Highway, Baltimore, Md. 21230
Tickets and details
Established in Baltimore in 1989 to help connect Maryland to the globe, today, the World Trade Center Institute (WTCI) is the region’s largest international business organization. WTCI strives to drive the growth of Maryland’s global business community through global connections, events and extensive international business services. Financed jointly by area businesses and the state of Maryland, WTCI operates as a nonprofit, membership organization.