SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: Shining Light Company – Under Armour


Shining Light Company, Under Armour

With the arrival of summer comes the beginning of youth and adult sport camps across the country. With that in mind, this week, we have chosen to spotlight a company that is very familiar to athletes of any kind – Under Armour (Ticker: UA). Founded in 1996 by former college football player Kevin Plank and headquartered in Baltimore, MD, Under Armour is widely recognized as a global leader in performance footwear, apparel, and accessories. Their mission: “To make all athletes better through passion, design, and the relentless pursuit of innovation.”

Humble Beginnings

Plank, Founder and Chairman, discovered the need for moisture-wicking material in clothing while playing football for the Maryland Terrapins. Plank said that he was the “sweatiest guy on the football field.” With that in mind, he set out to find a material that would wick the sweat from his body rather than absorbing it. After testing various prototypes, Plank settled on the final product and launched the company upon graduation from the University. He initially struggled to come up with a name that would be both unique and attention-grabbing. One afternoon, his brother asked, “How’s that company you’re working on… Under Armor?” The name was born immediately: Under Armour. Plank did make a slight change to the spelling, deciding to use the British form of the word, “Armour” because he believed the phone number “888-4ARMOUR” was more captivating than “888-44ARMOR.” While net sales were almost $5 billion in 2017 alone, Plank and his company have stayed true to their humble beginnings, emphasizing the importance of philanthropy and integrity.

Ethical Business Practices

Not only is Under Armour recognized as a leader for its products, but also for the manner in which it does business. A high standard of ethics is essential for success, and a company’s reputation is in the hands of its employees. Under Armour obviously understands this as indicated by the many statements on the corporate website referring to such values as trustworthiness, honesty, and integrity. In a discussion about being sensitive to situations that could result in illegal, unethical, or improper actions, it goes even further to state, “We should also be alert to activities that even look improper.”  Management and supervisory personnel have an “open door” policy for anyone with ethical concerns, questions, or complaints, and the company maintains a confidential alert line.

People over Profits

Under Armour values its employees and their commitment to the brand’s success, and that is reflected in the benefits packages available. Beyond the typical retirement and stock purchase plans, insurance coverage, and product discounts, employees have access to several health and training services, including a tobacco cessation program, Combine Training Center, health risk assessment, and a 24/7 health advocate service.While employees cite a fast-paced work environment that can be stressful for some, the competitive salary and generous 50% discount on all Under Armour products provides acceptable balance for most employees. Not only does Under Armour provide excellent benefits, but they also go above and beyond to help employees with specific, personal assistance in areas such as tuition reimbursement, professional certificates, and adoption and home buying expenses.It is nowonder Under Armour has found itself among Baltimore Magazine’s Best Places to Work and Forbes’ America’s 200 Best Small Companies several times in recent years.

Philanthropy and Service

Those same employees recognize the importance of helping others and are involved in their community as part of “UA GiveBack” volunteer days. In 2013, Baltimore employees collected 800 jackets for a Baltimore homeless shelter, adopted 375 Angels as part of the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, and served 1,500 meals to local individuals and families. 281 projects were completed by 1,000 employees who volunteered over 6,000 hours.

The UA Power in Pink Program celebrates women who use exercise to stay healthy and raises awareness for breast health. The program features real survivors in a national advertising campaign and offers encouragement and support for those in the midst of their own battle. Under Armour has committed to contributing a minimum of $2 million annually to Johns Hopkins to develop the Live Well Center and to support research and innovation in the field of breast health.

Through UA Freedom, Under Armour is committed to donating a minimum of $250,000 each year to support first responders, military support organizations, law enforcement officers, and veterans. Additionally, they are proud partners of The Wounded Warrior Project, and will have donated over $1 million between August 2012 and December 2014 to benefit injured service members and their families. Since 2009, select Under Armour Division I football teams have worn specially-designed jerseys for one game to honor WWP™. Rather than players’ names, the jerseys bear the names “Honor, Duty, Commitment, Loyalty, Dedication, Country, and Service” and are auctioned off after the game with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the organization.

UA WIN focuses on the next generation of athletes and future business and community leaders by providing kids in underserved communities access to sports. The program supports the coaches and leaders who impact these kids, works with communities to enhance locations for kids to play in their own neighborhoods, and invests in activities that use sports to teach life skills and how to succeed on and off the field.

Final Thoughts

Whether your closet contains some of their gear or not, it is hard to ignore the good work Under Armour is doing to make a lasting difference in the lives of people and their commitment to operating with such a high degree of integrity. For that, we are proud to include them among our list of Shining Light Companies and hope they continue to use their platform and influence to be an even greater blessing for years to come!

DISCLOSURE: Shining Light Companies are exemplary companies who live out the Golden Rule in their business practices, demonstrate strong servant leadership and create compelling value through the products and services they offer. This is intended for general information purposes concerning only the values, corporate culture and business practices of the companies being spotlighted. It DOES NOT incorporate any analysis of the companies’ investment merit based on intrinsic value, fundamental analysis, etc. This must not be construed as investment advice or a buy/sell recommendation. These companies may or may not be included in our LightPoint Portfolios at any given time.