Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank joined a small group of business leaders at the White House Monday for the first of what is expected to be a series of periodic meetings with President Donald Trump on adding and retaining manufacturing jobs in the United States.
In one of the first activites of what he called Day One of his new administration, Trump told the group of CEOs that business regulations and taxes would be cut “massively.” For those looking to grow or start new factories, the Republican president promised to expedite their requests and provide incentives to build.
Plank joined a select group that included top executives from Arconic, Corning, Dell Technologies, Dow Chemical, Ford Motor Co., International Paper, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, U.S. Steel and Whirlpool.
The Under Armour founder sat between Elon Musk of SpaceX and senior White House adviser Stephen Bannon, a few chairs away from Trump.
Trump said he hopes to convene the group at least four times a year to hear directly from the business community, saying that they are “great people” who have done “an amazing job.”
“Kevin Plank was invited to be part of a distinguished group of business leaders to begin an important dialogue with the new administration,” said Diane Pelkey, Under Armour senior vice president for global communications, in a written response to Baltimore Sun questions. “Under Armour is committed to developing innovative ways for businesses to support and invest in American manufacturing.”
Nearly two-thirds of Under Armour's products are manufactured in China, Jordan, Vietnam and Indonesia, but the Baltimore-based apparel, footwear and fitness technology company launched an initative last year in Baltimore to test technologies for local production.
“Today, unfortunately, much of our manufacturing is done outside the U.S.,” Plank said last June in opening the manufacturing and design center called UA Lighthouse. “We'd like to reinvent the process.”
Much of the Lighthouse space is devoted to improving manufacturing techniques and testing apparel and footwear lines before the products go into full-scale production. The company said it would like to make more of its products in local markets.
The rapidly-growing company plans to open a distribution warehouse in 2018 on the site of the former Sparrows Point steel mill that will employ 1,000 people. It already employs thousands at distribution centers in Curtis Bay, Mount Juliet, Tenn., and Rialto, Calif., and another 2,100 at its Baltimore headquarters.
Under Armour’s stated goals are to hit $7.5 billion in sales by 2018, up from nearly $5 billion this year. It has been expanding its reach globally.
At the White House, Trump promised to wipe out at least 75 percent of government regulations that hinder the executives’ businesses, fast-track their plans to open factories and cut taxes.
“We're going to be cutting regulation massively,” Trump said. “Now, we're going to have regulation, and it'll be just as strong and just as good and just as protective of the people as the regulation we have right now. The problem with the regulation that we have right now is that you can't do anything. ... I have people that tell me that they have more people working on regulations than they have doing product.”
He also threatened to impose a “substantial border tax” on companies that move production out of the country.
Plank has contributed in the past both to Republican and Democratic elected officials in federal and state posts, according to online election records.
The Washington Post contributed to this report