Under Armour event provides procurement insights

March 22nd, 2012

David Cahn

David Cahn

On March 22, 2012 I attended the Maryland Chamber of Commerce Business Development Council event at Under Armour (“UA”) world headquarters in south Baltimore, located right next to Baltimore’s harbor. The presentation included an inspirational history lesson concerning UA’s growth since its 1996 founding to a $1.5 Billion company with about 5,000 employees, and also a fun tour of part of the sprawling headquarters — which includes a basketball court and a cafeteria with a very large “Living Wall” composed of actual plans.

However, the heart of the presentation was by Mark Gillen, Director of Strategic Procurement, who described what UA seeks in suppliers, which provides insight to seeking business from a nearly “large cap” company. Key takeaways were:

UA brand apparel is generally more expensive but a better value than competitors’

Founder Kevin Plank has long term vision and stable position as CEO

UA analyzes the intangible benefits of associating with suppliers, not just price

An UA executive will have at least one conversation with each prospective supplier

UA has a “Center led procurement” process, which means Mark sets guidelines for division leaders to follow when directly deciding many of UA’s supplier decisions

The key question is how supplier helps to protect and enhance the UA brand

UA seeks long term value = quality products and service, plus reasonable price

How does the supplier innovate and grow in its business methods?

UA seeks suppliers who will save us money through good ideas, even at risk to their short term profits, and view relationship with UA as a long term asset

Supplier must be nimble, comfortable with UA’s fast paced and hectic company culture

Must be willing to provide quality support & training; example cited was software platform used.

UA does seek supplier diversity and tracks its procurement to identify locally owned, small and minority or veteran owned businesses.

In charitable endeavors, UA supports women’s health projects, Habitat for Humanity, “wounded warriors”, and Ronald McDonald House, among others.

UA expansion in south Baltimore’s Locust Point neighborhood will include adding a new building and a retail store expansion. Company owns the many acres of land on which its headquarters sits.

  1. David Cahn - May 7th, 2012 at 11:08 am

    To my knowledge there is no Under Armour franchise opportunity. The blog post concerned Under Armour’s procurement process and was intended to provide guidance to companies seeking to do business with Fortune 1000 companies such as UA.