REI Announces 2008 Vendor Partner Award Winners

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, announced its 2008 vendor partner awards.
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Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, announced its 2008 vendor partner awards today at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show. CamelBak Products, LLC, best known for their hydration backpacks and water bottles, received top honors as REI's Vendor Partner-of-the-Year.

“REI is privileged to work with some of the top companies in the retail industry today, leaders in product quality and innovation, outdoor stewardship and performance,” said Angela Owen, REI's vice president of Merchandising. “It is our pleasure to recognize our standout industry partners in this special way.”

The annual awards program, established in 1993, recognizes three key vendors and one overall vendor of the year for efforts that have built a strategic and successful relationship with REI. The co-op's three merchandising divisions – camp/travel, actionsports and outdoorwear – nominate companies, then REI retail employees vote on the slate of nominees to determine the winners.

“We're proud to recognize CamelBak as our 2008 Vendor Partner-of-the-Year because of their amazing sales results and for their relentless dedication to the REI partnership in changing business conditions,” said Owen. “For example, they were ahead of the curve in identifying changing market conditions for water bottles and proactively partnered with REI to launch their newly designed BPA-free bottle line in advance of market demand. We have great confidence in CamelBak as an excellent business partner, now and into the future.”

CamelBak Products, LLC, is headquartered in Petaluma, Calif., and is the originator of the hands-free hydration system. Since 1991, CamelBak's state-of-the-art packs and hydration systems have enabled athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, and servicemen and women around the world to go further and perform at their peak. CamelBak continues to deliver innovative hydration products to the market with the belief in the performance advantage that proper hydration can deliver in any situation. The company is privately held by Irving Place Capital (www.irvingplacecapital.com).

The other 2008 divisional vendor partner award winners are:
• Camp/Travel Winner: Osprey Packs (Cortez, Colo.) – Creates innovative high performance gear that reflects a love of adventure and a devotion to the outdoors and the environment. Osprey was REI's overall Vendor Partner of the Year for 2007. For more information, visit www.ospreypacks.com.
• Action Sports Winner: Pearl Izumi (Louisville, Colo.) – Since 1981, Pearl Izumi designs, innovates and manufactures cycling and running apparel known for its technical performance and durability. In addition the company has launched highly innovative new lines of cycling and running footwear. For more information, visit www.pearlizumi.com.
• Outdoorwear Winner: Outdoor Research (Seattle, Wash.) – Delivers functional solutions for human powered adventure. OR's product lines include apparel, handwear, headwear, gaiters, shelter systems, storage systems, and distribution of Exped tents, sleeping bags and mats. For more information, visit www.outdoorresearch.com.

Other REI vendor partners that were nominees for 2008 included: Arbor, Arc'Teryx, Big Agnes, Black Diamond, Mountain Hardwear, Ortlieb, Planet Bike, PROBAR, SmartWool, Smith Optics and Teva.

Past recipients of the REI Vendor Partner-of-the-Year Award include Atlas Snowshoe (1999), Black Diamond Equipment (1994, 2006), Bell Sports (1997), Cascade Designs (2001), Columbia Sportswear (1998), Eagle Creek (2000, 2005), Keen Footwear (2004), Osprey (2007), prAna (2003), Smith Sport Optics (2002), Vasque (1995, 1996), and Yakima (1993).

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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