It's not every day two of the most iconic American brands expand their relationship, but that's exactly what happened Thursday when Nike (NKE) announced that Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook would be expanding his role with the apparel company.
Cook has been on Nike's board since 2005, and is now the lead independent director of the board.
The move came at the same time Nike announced co-founder and board Chairman Phil Knight is retiring. Knight announced that he would be retiring a year ago.
"Phil's impact on Nike is immeasurable," said CEO Mark Parker. "His entrepreneurial drive is and always will be part of our DNA. Along with Nike's exceptional management team, I am committed to leading our next era of innovation and growth as we serve and inspire athletes throughout the world."
Knight founded Nike's predecessor, Blue Ribbon Sport, in 1964 with his former track coach Bill Bowerman, with each putting up $500 to start the company, which went public in 1980.
Nike has made it a point to stock its board with executives from other Fortune 500 companies. Cook is joined by Eli Lilly (LLY) CEO John Lechleiter, FedEx (FDX) CEO Alan Graf Jr., PayPal (PYPL) Chairman John Donahoe II, former Microsoft (MSFT) CFO John Connors and GE (GE) Vice Chair Elizabeth Comstock.
Knight will remain involved with Nike post-retirement as the company's chairman emeritus.
"The chairman emeritus shall not be a member of the board and shall not have a vote on matters before the board or its committees. The chairman emeritus has a standing invitation to attend, assist in presiding over, and participate in discussions of, the coard and its committees," Nike's corporate governance guidelines dictate.
Nike has experienced its strongest growth in recent years, culminating with the company surpassing $30 billion in revenue last year. Nike is expanding its Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. The company's 3.2-million-square-foot expansion is expected to be completed in 2018.
However, the company has run into some obstacles in 2016, and it recently took a dip following its earnings release after the company provided soft guidance for future sales.
Cook clearly doesn't know as much about selling shoes as he does about selling computers at Apple -- a key holding of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio. But Nike has stacked its board with some of the modern titans of industry, and Cook certainly fits that mold.
It's hard to argue with the company's logic given its recent run of success. But with Growth Seeker holding Under Armour (UA) and Adidas looking to trim Nike's wide lead in market share, Nike is entering a critical stage in its growth.
While losing the guidance of Knight hurts, expanding the role of a person like Cook -- who is no stranger to overseeing a company in the middle of historic growth -- may partially offset those growing pains.
Nike shares were up 0.6% to $55.55 on weak volume Friday afternoon.