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Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, announced its 2005 vendor partnership awards today at the winter Outdoor Retailer trade show. Eagle Creek, known for its popular line of premium travel gear, received top honors as REI’s Vendor Partner-of-the-Year.
â€œREI is fortunate to work with the best companies in the outdoor industry,â€ said Matt Hyde, REI’s senior vice president of merchandising and logistics. â€œStrong partnerships are key to REI’s success, and these winners set a leading example. Eagle Creek has proven its leadership in active travel gear over the decades with category leadership, quality products and superior service to the outdoor market. Because of the relevance of its products to REI customers, Eagle Creek has steadily grown a significant business and has helped REI’s leadership position in the rebounding travel goods business.â€
The annual awards program, established in 1993, recognizes three key vendors and one overall vendor partner-of-the-year for efforts that have built a strategic and successful relationship with REI. The co-op’s three merchandising divisions â€“ camp/travel, action sports and outdoorwear â€“ nominate companies based on several measures, including financial performance, community and industry involvement and product quality, among others. In addition, REI’s retail store employees vote from the slate of nominees to help determine the winners.
This year’s top award recipient, Eagle Creek, is based in Vista, Calif. and has been producing premium travel gear for more than 30 years. Dedicated to making travel easier, Eagle Creek is committed to product quality, corporate integrity, community responsibility and protecting the environment.
The other 2005 vendor partnership award winners are:
â€¢ Camp/Travel Division Winner: KELTY (Boulder, Colo.), comfortably entering its sixth decade as a leader in the outdoor industry, uses the natural backdrop of the Rocky Mountains to test, create and continually innovate. Its diverse product line includes a comprehensive collection of women’s outdoor gear; comfortable and durable base-camp equipment; high-performance â€œlight & fastâ€ and trail gear; and a stylish travel selection.
â€¢ Action Sports Division Winner: Black Diamond Equipment Ltd. (Salt Lake City, Utah) is an employee-owned manufacturer of equipment for rock climbing, alpinism and backcountry skiing. By consistently building innovative products and actively preserving the mountain environment, Black Diamond has assumed a leadership role in the international outdoor community.
â€¢ Outdoorwear Division Winner: Founded in 2003, Keen Footwear is located in Alameda, Calif. Since its inception, the brand has exploded in the outdoor and footwear industries by establishing itself as the leader of hybrid performance footwear. Known for its patented toe protection technology, Keen Footwear can be found in more than 1,300 retail locations nationwide. Keen Footwear has also established distribution networks in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia as well as Central America, South America and Europe.
Other vendor partnership award nominees included Garmin, Hind, Jetboil, Life is Good, Native Eyewear, The North Face, Royal Robbins, Salomon, Todson and Vasque. Past recipients of the REI Vendor Partner-of-the-Year Award include Yakima (1993), Black Diamond (1994), Vasque (1995, 1996), Bell Sports (1997), Columbia Sportswear (1998), Atlas Snowshoe (1999), Eagle Creek (2000), Cascade Designs (2001), Smith Sport Optics (2002), prAna (2003) and Keen Footwear (2004).
REI is a national outdoor retail cooperative, committed to inspiring, educating and outfitting for a lifetime of outdoor adventure. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI is today the nation’s largest consumer co-op with more than 2.5 million active members. REI offers products from all of the top brands for camping, climbing, cycling, hiking, outdoor cross training, paddling, snow sports and travel, including its own line of award-winning gear and apparel. While anyone may join or shop at REI, members pay a one-time $15 fee and receive a share in the company’s profits through an annual member refund based on their purchases. REI currently operates stores in 25 states, two online stores â€“ REI.com and REI-OUTLET.com â€“ and an adventure travel company, REI Adventures. A portion of REI’s profits is set aside each year for support of environmental stewardship and outdoor recreation causes, through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.