We talked to Kevin Plank right before he stepped down as CEO of Under Armour, and he hinted at why the company may be ready for the change
- Kevin Plank is stepping down as CEO of Under Armour, the company he founded in 1996. Plank will become executive chairman and brand chief.
- Patrick Frisk, Under Armour's president and chief operating officer, has been named the replacement CEO effective January 1.
- In an interview with Business Insider last month, Plank and Frisk talk about how their leadership styles differ. Plank says he wants to run down the hill as fast as he can, while Frisk is there to make sure they have a plan and don't run straight into a tree.
A few weeks before Kevin Plank stepped down as Under Armour's CEO, he stopped by Business Insider with his soon-would-be replacement Patrik Frisk to discuss the future of the company. Following is a transcript of the video.
Sara Silverstein: And you're looking longterm now. What's the hardest thing about thinking longterm as a publicly traded company?
Kevin Plank: This is where our partnership comes from. You'd ask and say, "Do we have a big idea of the vision of what the company would look like or not?" I wanted to sell a shirt today and I wanted to sell as many as I could at the time. So that ability to actually have a partner come in who helps us think better about what is not only the three but what's the five, frankly, what's the 10-year plan for this brand, too.
I wanna run down the hill as fast as I can and that's sort of been the defining of the company and that's where now having a partner that helps us think about, "All right, which way are we gonna go? Are we going to the left or the right of that tree? We're not going through it so we have to be thoughtful." We've never been afraid to go through that tree when we had to in the past.
Silverstein: Is there anything that investors or analysts say that you feel like they really misunderstand? Is there one thing that really gets to you?
Plank: I think this is a company, it's all on the come. I think that's what people don't understand, is when you look to the transformation we've been through. This is strong entrepreneurial upstart company built and driven by a lot of momentum and then it was, "All right, how are you shifting into actually being a large-scale format company?" So what comes with that, the last few years, a lot of people have had opinions about what does it mean to make that transformation.
Still, if I look back at this chapter, '17, '18, '19, we'll have grown this company more than half a billion dollars over that time, implemented a new go-to-market strategy, implemented a new global operating model, get away from a North American company that's selling product other places, upgraded our systems, really retooled our entire management team and said, "Who's here and who's ready," brought in our president and chief operating officer, just watching all that synergy come together.
For me it's been great but it is human. So those are the things that come out and say, "Yeah, I don't know if it'll always look smooth on the top," but it means that we're moving forward.
Patrik Frisk: And I think from my perspective, being still the new boy on the block or not a rookie anymore, I'm past that stage, I think, but thinking about the fact that this is now the third largest athletic brand in the world, having done that, having grown that fast underneath of two really large brands, that's incredible. They were never able to do that. We've been able to do that. So now that we've got our stuff together, now that our innovation pipeline is stacked, now that we're going from defense to offense, now that we're gonna become a louder brand, I'd bet on us.
Silverstein: And tell me about your partnership. What's the strongest and hardest part about working together?
Frisk: The strongest and hardest part...
Plank: It's human.
Frisk: Having been here for two years now I think we know each other really well. I have incredible respect for what Kevin has created here and the fact that he's entrusting me to help him get to the next level with this amazing brand that we both want to be eternal. It is a partnership. It's like a marriage in some ways. You gotta respect each other. You gotta understand what drives each other, what both the strengths are from both sides and I think what's really unique about our brand, our company, our future, is the fact that you've got the yin and yang here to some extent in terms of Kevin's enormous entrepreneurial drive, understanding of brand, understanding of the merchandising capability of a great brand, with some of the stuff that I've done in my past, which is also driving big brands, understanding brand, but also having the operational experience to be able to really help us get to the next stage.
Plank: That yin and yang has been critical but we work at it. We make sure we sit down and we'll see each other throughout the day but we'll have sit-downs at least twice a week. We'll do a blowout session of two, three, four hours once a month and just make sure that communication, over communication - because it is, it's meeting where you find the strength and diversity that comes together. We like a lot of things but we can mix it up, too. This is, it's strength.
Frisk: You've gotta be able to do that and then walk out of it and be a lion at the end of the day.
Plank: Never go to bed angry.
Frisk: Nope, never go to bed angry.
WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE: Under Armour's plan to get back on the front foot after a bumpy 3 years
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