REI Announces 2006 Vendor Partnership Award Winners

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) announced its 2006 vendor partnership awards today. Black Diamond, best known for its popular line of premium climbing gear, received top honors as REI’s Vendor Partner-of-the-Year.

January 27, 2007

Nicole Fallat
(206) 390-2236 (cell)
(253) 437-7308 (office)

REI Announces 2006 Vendor Partnership Award Winners

SALT LAKE CITY – Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, announced its 2006 vendor partnership awards today at the winter Outdoor Retailer trade show. Black Diamond, best known for its popular line of premium climbing gear, received top honors as REI's Vendor Partner-of-the-Year.

“REI is fortunate to work with the best companies in the outdoor industry,” said Angela Owen, REI's vice president of merchandising. “Strong partnerships are crucial to REI's success, and these winners set a leading example.”

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 – camp/travel, action sports and outdoorwear – nominate companies based on several measures, including financial performance, community and industry involvement and product quality, among others. In addition, all of REI's retail store employees are asked to vote from the slate of nominees to help determine the winners.

“Climbing was REI's first specialty shop, and continues to be at the core of our business even now,” said Owen. “Black Diamond has been a leader in the industry, driving testing standards and introducing innovative new products. They also understand the value of introducing new people to this great activity, by stepping up to be the supplier for REI's Outdoor School climbing classes. Black Diamond has been nothing short of an amazing partner, consistently performing with excellence.”

This year's top award recipient, Black Diamond Equipment Ltd., based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is an employee-owned manufacturer of equipment for rock climbing, alpinism and freeride skiing. By consistently building innovative products and actively preserving the mountain environment, Black Diamond has assumed a leadership role in the international outdoor community.

The other 2006 vendor partnership award winners are:

Camp/Travel Division Winner: Osprey Packs, Inc. (Cortez, Colo.) From its beginnings building custom backpacks and sleeping bags in Santa Cruz, Calif., to its current recognition as an industry leader, Osprey has always flown its own course. Its mission to create innovative high performance gear reflects its employee's love of adventure and devotion to the outdoors. Osprey has over thirty-two years of pack-making experience.

Action Sports Division Winner: The North Face® (San Leandro, Calif.) The North Face®, a subsidiary of VF Corporation, was founded in 1966. The company offers technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes and explorers. The company's products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains.

Outdoorwear Division Winner: Mountain Hardwear (Richmond, Calif.) Established in 1993 by a group of outdoor industry veterans, Mountain Hardwear designs, sources and markets high-end mountaineering and outdoor equipment, apparel and accessories. The company distributes its products through specialty outdoor and sporting goods retailers in the United States and 25 countries worldwide. Mountain Hardwear has won numerous product and customer service awards since its inception. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Columbia Sportswear Company.

Other vendor partnership award nominees included Bell Sports, Big Agnes, Burton, CamelBak, Chaco, Eagle Creek, Johnson Outdoors, Keen, Native, Outdoor Research and SmartWool. 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), Keen Footwear (2004) and Eagle Creek (2005).

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 3 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 89 stores in 25 states, two online stores – and – 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.



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