The March 23, 2015, issue of Barron’s contained a special section on the “World’s Best CEO’s.” Barron’s short and prestigious list of executives who have delivered outstanding returns to their shareholders included two individuals who are prominent in horse racing circles, one in the United States and the other in Ireland.
Kevin Plank is the 42-year-old founder and CEO of Under Armour. Plank, a football player for the University of Maryland in his college days, has taken his creation from a 1996 start-up in his grandmother’s basement to the second largest sports-apparel maker. Only Nike is bigger and Under Armour recently displaced Addidas in the number 2 position in the industry.
Plank is also the owner of Sagamore Racing. He purchased and restored Sagamore Farm in Glyndon, Maryland, a historic site founded in 1925 by Issac Emerson. Emerson’s daughter Margaret bequeathed the farm to her son Alfred G. Vanderbilt Jr. Sagamore Farm produced champions like Discovery and the “grey ghost” Native Dancer.
Barron’s said of Plank: “The former University of Maryland linebacker runs the company like a team. ‘Marketing and endorsement is offense; manufacturing and distribution is defense.’ Under Armour’s stats: Since its 2005 IPO, revenue has grown 30% annually and the shares are up 1,180%.”
Michael O’Leary has been the CEO of Ryanair Holdings since 1994. The 54-year-old O’Leary made Ryanair a formidable force in Europe by replicating Southwest Airlines’ low-fare and no-frills business model. Barron’s describes O’Leary as “one of Ireland’s leading racehorse owners.”
O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud in County Westmeath breeds racehorses and Aberdeen Angus cattle.
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