Rick Medlin, Fruit of the Loom president and CEO, died suddenly on Sunday from natural causes

Rick Medlin, Fruit of the Loom president and CEO, died suddenly on Sunday from natural causes

Rick Medlin, president and CEO of apparel maker Fruit of the Loom Inc, passed away suddenly at the weekend, after suffering what was thought to be a heart attack.

"The entire Fruit of the Loom Inc team worldwide, with nearly 30,000 employees, is incredibly saddened by the loss of their sincere and principled leader," the company said in a statement.

Medlin had been president and CEO of the Bowling Green, Kentucky based business for the past six years, previously serving in other roles at the company, including executive vice president of operations, senior vice president of manufacturing and vice president of textile manufacturing. Before joining Fruit of the Loom, he held a variety of positions at NRB Industries and Milliken & Company.

"Rick was a special leader and a special person. He was extremely proud of the progress and success we have shared in the last six years," said the Fruit of the Loom leadership team. "We owe it to his legacy and honour to continue taking this company forward in accordance with his vision."

The company will name an interim CEO in the coming days.

Last month Medlin spoke of his pride after the firm was recognised for its corporate social responsibility efforts in Central America for the eighth year in a row.

The company received the CSR Seal awarded by FUNDAHRSE (Fundación Hondureña de Responsabilidad Social Empresarial) – an organisation set up to promote responsible business practices in Honduras.

The non-profit group selects companies based on criteria such as employee development programmes, transparency, community development projects, government relations, and environmental impact management.

"Our company is committed to ensuring that we conduct business in a socially responsible fashion in order to minimise our impact on the environment and make a real difference in the communities where we work and live," he said.

Fruit of the Loom is a Berkshire Hathaway company, and manufactures family apparel, intimates, athletic apparel and equipment. Its portfolio includes more than 20 brands such as Fruit of the Loom, Russell Athletic, Spalding, Jerzees and Vanity Fair.

It employs nearly 30,000 people in 17 countries, with 200,000 additional jobs created through sourcing and licensing manufacturing locations in 30 countries.