Good To Be Back is Under Armour’s latest campaign. Back to school, back to sports, and getting back to normal after a few years.
Mike Lomas, Director of Team Sales at Under Armour, says, “we always try to tell a story around what we’re doing. We’re not just selling you a product, we’re selling you a solution. We’re trying to inspire you to become better each and every day.”
We got the opportunity to speak with Mike about his career at Under Armour, how they recognize trending products, work towards sustainability, and help team dealers be successful.
Watch the full interview below!
Hayley Bell (HB): Tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been with Under Armour. What has your time with them been like so far?
Mike Lomas (ML): I’ve been with Under Armour for nearly 17 years, which is my entire career. I’ve been very fortunate to work for such a great brand, working in sports, having been a former athlete myself, and working with a lot of great people and mentors over the years.
As you mentioned in the beginning, I am the director of Team Sales here at Under Armour. When I started, I was in customer service where I learned so much about the business, from order entry to inventory management to customer relations and all those types of things.
When I moved into a sales role over the West Coast, I got to travel, got out of my comfort zone a little bit, and really started to take a liking to the sales rep role and their lifestyle. I was very fortunate that a position opened up in 2008 in my hometown area of Philadelphia and I got to move back from Baltimore to Philly. I was a territory manager here for roughly ten years, and it was a great experience.
I was really glad that I was able to pursue sales after having identified it as something that I really wanted to do. It was a challenge to hit the road as a not-so-confident individual when I was still learning. I think we’re all still learning every day, but at that time I was pretty young, pretty green, and thought I had the answers. Every time I walked into a customer’s door, I realized I didn’t have the answer. So I had to continue to grind and work hard and build those relationships, take no for an answer at times, and figure out a way to crack those doors down again and just keep going back.
It was a really enjoyable time in my career I think I learned a lot and I drew a lot on my customer service background and foundation to help create the structure that I needed.
HB: Can you give us a brief overview of Under Armour, who the company is, what you guys focus on, and how you help Team Dealers be successful?
ML: Under Armour has been around since 1996, founded by Kevin Plank, who is now the chairman of the board. His mantra was always “there’s got to be something better”. Our mission is that Under Armour makes you better. We’re always trying to find a performance solution that you never knew you needed, but you can’t imagine living without.
One of our values is “love athletes”. That’s where our major focus is. There’s a ton of shift in the world of athleisure and lifestyle and kind of this blending of sport. We’ll be part of that trend, but ultimately, our focus is on loving athletes and making sure that we have the right product for them.
The company was really built on four pillars: build a great product, tell a great story, build a great team, and service the business.
Our latest marketing campaign is “it’s good to be back,” a play on back to campus, back to school, back to sport, and people finally getting back to normal. We always try to tell a story around what we’re doing. We’re not just selling you a product, we’re selling you a solution. We’re trying to inspire you to become better each and every day. Our team really sets us apart when you’re talking to customers out there.
We try to be the good guys to do business with. We care, we’re responsive as much as possible. We try to be open and transparent. It’s easier said than done. As I said, I ran through some difficult times early in my career as a sales rep. Sometimes you don’t know how to react to situations, but I think we’ve all found that the more open and honest you are with somebody and willing to provide solutions for them, the more successful you’re going to be. Ultimately, from a service perspective, that’s always been our number one and has set us apart in so many ways.
Whether it’s answering a phone call, shipping a product on time, making sure we have inventory and don’t have back-orders, and those kinds of things, it’s a constant focus of ours to make sure that we can service the business effectively.
HB: What are some products that are trending right now? What should people keep an eye on in fall but also maybe even into winter sports? What are you keeping an eye on?
ML: So my answer might not be as eye-popping as some might hope. The basics are what’s really driving our business right now. T-shirts, polos, and our hustle fleece program are core products for us that continue to stay in high demand, they continue to perform at a high level. In these times, we’ve had to be very strategic in the styles that we’ve decided to really get behind and stay in stock in, even if it might be like reducing color and focusing on some more neutrals. While I would love to tell you that we have some great brand-new technology that we’re bringing into the market, our traditional team polos are doing great. Our quarter zips, and our command quarter zip continues to sell really well. Backpacks have been a challenge from an inventory standpoint, but when you talk about back to school and back to sports. Those are essential pieces.
If I could say one thing to the dealer base out there, it would be to focus on the core and really sell not only what we have, but what you, the dealer has stocked on your own shelves because that’s where you get the success. Especially like on the Order My Gear platform, where you might want to put some of these additional products that aren’t as plentiful in inventory or they have some different colors and that kind of thing. Chances are you might let a customer down because, by the time the order is placed, it might not be in stock. So we try to cater to everybody, give them curated assortments to say, like, hey, look, this is really what we’re getting behind for the season.
When you talk about looking into winter, we’re really excited about our new Curry Nine basketball shoe on the team side. Steph wore that for the whole season last year and into the finals. It was super successful. Great launch for us, and we’re really excited to bring that into the team side and start to place it on some of our high schools and colleges and club athletes.
HB: We know that Under Armour cares a lot about sustainability, and we want to see if you can walk us through a little bit about what you guys are doing to create an eco-friendly brand.
ML: We’re always striving to do what’s best for the environment. They often like to tell us that our work is not just what we do, it’s how we do it. If you walk through our corporate offices, there are waste management solutions all over the place that recycle and compost and those types of things where we’re trying to be environmentally friendly. But when you shift to our products. We’re not quite in the market yet, but you will see a sustainability initiative that will come forward where you see recycled fabrics in our products across the board. So more to come there, but it’s certainly a focus of the brand holistically as we look to be more sustainable and make more sustainable products and be more environmentally friendly.
HB: What are some key traits or actions that you think Team Dealers need to have in order to be really successful over the next little bit? What suggestions would you have for them?
ML: They’ve all done a great job of controlling their own destiny. What I mean by that is increasing their booking orders, their stocking orders to bring more product in on their own shelves. The way they’re able to control their own destiny is to pull the product off the shelves, get it decorated and get it out the door. We have so much better visibility into what the customer and the end user need out there. So it allows us to plan much better.
There are many of our mutual customers that have a lot of school contracts in the market. Everybody wants to go add more of them, but the truth is, we’re probably not maximizing the ones that we have. So my challenge would be that we need to maximize those deals. That’s where we need to cultivate those relationships and really uncover every stone in each school. Don’t stop at sports. Go to the booster clubs. Don’t stop there. Go to the band director, go to the student council, go to the campus security, go to the theater group, whatever it might be at the school.
Everybody who’s involved in a community, in a school and a club, all want to have some sort of connection to it, and they all have a lot of pride, and they want to wear the product if possible. It’s on us to make sure we’re maximizing those partnerships. I would much rather see us capitalize on the existing customers that we have than add 50 more and only get a 20% penetration rate instead of getting 80+ at the ones that we do have. There’s a lot to be said there for the existing group that we already do work with and strengthen that relationship collectively. The dealers have done a great job with booking products. The way they can improve there is just by looking at those all-school lists.
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