Since Kevin Plank brought his sportswear company Under Armour to Baltimore’s Tide Point in 2002, the company has grown into an international powerhouse employing about 14,000 people globally and more than 2,800 in Maryland. It’s outfitted an array of high school, college and professional teams across the country and become an unofficial uniform for many area residents.
The growth, however, has not come without some controversy and even some pain as it strived to take on industry giants Nike and Adidas.
Here’s a look back at some of the company’s notable moments under Plank’s leadership:
Former University of Maryland football player Kevin Plank founds Under Armour from his grandmother’s basement in Washington, D.C. in 1996, and soon gets it first order from Georgia Tech for 48 sweat wicking t-shirts costing $456.
Tide Point move
Under Armour moves a handful of employees to Tide Point a year after the former Procter & Gamble manufacturing plant is remade into an office complex, and the company buys the entire property in 2011 to cement its place in Baltimore.
Port Covington property
In 2012, companies affiliated with Plank’s Sagamore Development Co. start buying properties in Port Covington in South Baltimore, an area that later will become a massive redevelopment project expected to include a new headquarters campus for Under Armour and a collection of offices, residences, shops and restaurants. Its purchases include Baltimore Sun Media’s printing plant, which the news business has a long-term lease on and where its news and business operations also are located.
In 2016, sales of Under Armour products begin to slow amid intense competition and changing demand for athletic apparel, and the company begins to report some money losing quarters and its stock price tumbles.
Plank and Under Armour faced immediate backlash in February 2017 after he praised newly elected President Donald Trump for his pro-business philosophy and called him a real asset. Plank, who had agreed to sit on a manufacturing advisory panel for the new administration, backtracked and said the company engages in policy, not politics.
Under Armour says in September 2018 that it will cut its global workforce by 400 workers, 3% of its workforce, by early 2019, as it continued to restructure to better take on rival apparel and shoe companies.
Cyber Town USA
In October 2018, three firms related to the cybersecurity industry announce plans to locate their headquarters at Port Covington, the sprawling $5.5 billion waterfront project in South Baltimore spurred by Plank’s development company. The cyber businesses plan to open by the end of 2020 and form what they called “Cyber Town USA,” though Under Armour has retreated on its earlier plans to move its headquarters there.
The Journal reported some top male executives violated company policy by behaving inappropriately with female subordinates and that women were invited to an “annual company event based on their attractiveness to appeal to male guests.”
The company responded that it had addressed these “serious allegations of the past,” adding that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.
Under Armour plans to open a distribution warehouse on the site of the former Sparrows Point steel mill. (Baltimore Sun video)
New distribution center
In May 2019, Under Armour cuts the ribbon on a high-tech warehouse in Sparrows Point able to accommodate 1,000 workers, the company’s second such distribution center in the region and fourth overall. Officials expect it to usher in a period of growth after a rough stretch for the business.
In its latest earnings report in July 2019 — three years into a turnaround plan aimed at stabilizing the brand — Under Armour misses quarterly sales forecasts and warned of continuing weakness in its key U.S. market. Losses, however, were lower than the year before, and shares plunged 12% to close at $24.08. They are trading now at around $21.