REI Announces 2007 Vendor Partner Award Winners

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, announced its 2007 vendor partner awards today at the winter Outdoor Retailer trade show.
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Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, announced its 2007 vendor partner awards today at the winter Outdoor Retailer trade show. Osprey Packs, Inc., best known for it high-performance outdoor gear, received top honors as REI's Vendor Partner-of-the-Year.

“REI is honored to work with some of the most innovative companies in the retail industry today,” said Angela Owen, REI's vice president of merchandising. “It is our pleasure to recognize some of our partners in the outdoor industry who are leading the way.”

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, REI retail employees vote from the slate of nominees to help determine the winners.

“We're proud to recognize Osprey as our 2007 Vendor Partner-of-the-Year because of its technical and innovative products, strong sales performance, and company values, including a solid commitment to corporate and social responsibility,” said Owen. “This year REI and Osprey partnered in an exclusive early launch of its ReSource product line, made almost entirely from recycled materials. We have great confidence in Osprey as an excellent business partner, now and into the future.”

This year's top award recipient, Osprey is based in Cortez, Colo. and has more than 32 years of pack-making experience. From its humble beginnings building custom backpacks and sleeping bags in Santa Cruz, Calif. to its current recognition as an industry leader, its mission is to create innovative high-performance gear that reflects a love of adventure, and a devotion to the outdoors and the environment. For more information, visit www.ospreypacks.com.

The other 2007 vendor partner award winners are:

• Camp/Travel Division Winner: Big Agnes (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) – Named for a peak in the nearby Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, Big Agnes, Inc. produces award-winning sleeping bags, pads and tents. For more information, visit www.bigagnes.com.

• Action Sports Division Winner: Electra Bicycle Company, LLC (Vista, Calif.) – Since 1993, Electra has stayed true to its commitment to bring its customers the finest cruiser and comfort bikes in the world. Marrying great designs with the best technology available, Electra creates bicycles that are meant to be enjoyed, ridden and treasured, not just admired. For more information, visit www.electrabike.com.

• Outdoorwear Division Winner: Mountain Hardwear (Richmond, Calif.) – Established in 1993 by a group of outdoor industry veterans, Mountain Hardwear makes cutting-edge mountaineering and outdoor equipment, apparel and accessories for the most extreme conditions. The company distributes its products through specialty outdoor and sporting goods retailers in the U.S. and more than 40 countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.mountainhardwear.com.

Other vendor partner award nominees included Arc'Teryx, Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd., CamelBak Products, LLC, Clif Bar, Inc., Hydro-Photon, Inc., Outdoor Research, Patagonia, SmartWool®, Thule, Todson and Vasque.

Past recipients of the REI Vendor Partner-of-the-Year Award include Yakima (1993), Black Diamond Equipment (1994, 2006), 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).

About REI
REI is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI operates retail stores nationwide, two online stores – http://www.rei.com and http://www.REI-OUTLET.com – and an adventure travel company, REI Adventures. REI offers products from all of the top brands for camping, climbing, cycling, fitness, hiking, paddling, snow sports and travel, including its own line of award-winning outdoor gear and apparel. While anyone may join or shop at REI, members pay a one-time $20 fee and receive a share in the company's profits through an annual member refund based on their purchases. As an active supporter of the communities in which it does business, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through education, volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.

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