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Volume 23 No. 23
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Forty Under 40

It was just a routine introduction, the day that Kip Fulks first shook hands with Kevin Plank. Fulks was an ex-lacrosse player at Maryland, and a former teammate said he should meet Plank, who was in the process of starting an athletic apparel business in his grandmother’s basement.

That handshake 15 years ago led to a career for Fulks, who has risen through jobs at Under Armour in sourcing and product development to become the company’s COO and the overseer of daily business.

Now, at least a third of his time is spent on the company’s long-term strategic direction. In other words, what does he want Under Armour to look like in five years?

“We have grown so fast, there’s a ton of pressure on keeping up with the growth and delivering great product every season,” Fulks said. “When you grow by 38 percent, you’ve got to make 38 percent more units, and they’ve got to be gorgeous.”

Fulks in recent years has been at the forefront of some of Under Armour’s most important decisions, like where it gets product.

“We’ve resisted the trend to rush to China with our manufacturing like a lot of companies have, and that’s been pretty defining for our company,” he said. “Now, we make a ton of product in other parts of Asia, but if you look at where we manufacture and how much of it is in this hemisphere, we’ve bucked the trend and still been very profitable. For my career, that’s been a defining decision for me.”

Age: 39
Title: Chief operating officer
COMPANY: Under Armour
Education: B.S., criminal justice, University of Maryland
Family: Wife, Beth; sons Rider and Truett
Career: 15 years at Under Armour; started the company with founder Kevin Plank
First job: Security guard
Last vacation: Bermuda with the family
what's on your ipod? Country and Bob Marley
guilty pleasure: Driving a tractor
best stress release: Working out
pet peeve: Politicians
fantasy job: Pro surfer
what keeps you awake at night? My kids!
business advice: Hard things are the right things, easy things are not.