Rick Medlin, president and chief executive officer of Fruit of the Loom, died of natural causes Nov. 27, according to the company. He was 68.
The firm’s leadership said in a joint statement that Medlin was, “extremely proud of the progress and success we have shared in the last six years. We owe it to his legacy and honor to continue taking this company forward in accordance with his vision. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Medlin family at this time of loss.”
Fruit of the Loom, which employs nearly 30,000 in 17 countries and is based in Bowling Green, Ky., said an interim ceo would be named in the coming days.
Medlin took the reins at the intimate apparel company in August 2010 having served as executive vice president of operations, senior vice president of manufacturing and vice president of textile manufacturing. Before Fruit of the Loom, Medlin worked at NRB Industries Inc. and Milliken & Co.
A South Carolina native, Medlin attended Clemson University on a football scholarship and earned a master’s degree in education before moving into the apparel business.
Fruit of the Loom has a portfolio of more than 20 brands, including its namesake label, Russell Athletic, Spalding, Jerzees and Vanity Fair.
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. bought the company out of bankruptcy in 2002 and has grown the business, adding roughly 7,000 employee and buying the Russell brand through a 2006 deal.
Fruit of the Loom last year expanded its plus-size underwear line and started to better emphasize the Fit for Me brand on its packaging in an effort to rev up the business.
And in 2014, the firm formed a strategic partnership to provide cotton and cotton-blended yarns to be used in Fruit of the Loom’s underwear and casualwear products.
Medlin said of the deal at the time: “Parkdale is one of the largest spinners in the world, and Fruit of the Loom has been purchasing yarns from them for many years. This new model will position us to provide our customers with even more innovative products with the great quality and value that consumers expect from the Fruit of the Loom brand.”
Memorial arrangements have yet to be finalized.