REI announced its 2012 Vendor Partner of the Year award recipients during the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show. Brooks was presented with the annual “Vendor Partner of the Year” award, while Thule, PrAna and Osprey Packs were named divisional winners.
The Vendor Partner of the Year awards program was established by REI in 1993. Each year, companies are nominated by the co-op’s three merchandising divisions – camp/travel, actionsports and outdoorwear – for their efforts to build a strategic and successful relationship focused on meeting member and customer needs, and bring quality, innovation, outdoor stewardship and performance to the industry. REI retail employees vote on the slate of nominees.
“Brooks has consistently been a valuable partner in helping strengthen our position as a leader in fitness footwear,” says Lee Fromson, senior vice president REI Merchandising. “Aside from providing ongoing program support and aligning with REI’s mission, they’ve brought our customers new ways to experience lightweight running and new products they love.”
In 2011, Brooks launched its PureProject, which elevated REI’s collection of lightweight running shoes. Through PureProject, Brooks introduced a new way to experience lightweight running that connects to the ground and activates new muscles. The next evolution of the collection utilizes the key technologies introduced in the original line, and places increased emphasis on fit. The upper has an all new design that wraps the foot, delivering a customized feel, while allowing the foot to move more naturally.
Based in Bothell, Wash., Brooks is recognized as a leading running company that designs and markets a line of performance footwear, apparel, and accessories in more than 60 countries worldwide. The company’s mission is to inspire everyone to run and be active by creating innovative gear that keeps them running longer, farther and faster. Brooks was founded in 1914 and is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.
The other divisional vendor partner award recipients are:
- Camp/Travel division: Osprey Packs (Cortez, Colo.) has long set the standard for creating innovative, high quality gear carrying equipment. Being located near the rugged San Juan Mountains and on the edge of desert canyon country, provides a constant inspiration and a superb testing ground for its products. The collection includes packs and bags designed to help adventurers enjoy their outdoor, biking and travel pursuits and reflects the company’s commitment to protect the wild places its customers love to explore.
- Actionsports division: Thule (Seymour, Conn.), established in Sweden in 1942, is now a premium brand used around the world. Under the motto “Bring your life,” Thule offers a wide assortment of accessories to simplify the transportation of your gear and equipment in a secure, safe and stylish way. Roof racks, bike and water sport carriers, roof boxes, snow chains as well as luggage bags and boxes are just some examples of what Thule offers.
- Outdoorwear division: prAna (Carlsbad, Calif.) has deep roots in rock climbing and yoga. The company manufactures and markets performance, active, lifestyle and travel apparel and accessories for men and women. PrAna’s design signature blends contemporary style with technical features and is grounded in ideals of sustainability.
Past recipients of the REI Vendor Partner of the Year Award include Atlas Snowshoe (1999), Black Diamond Equipment (1994, 2006), Bell Sports (1997), CamelBak Products, LLC (2008), Cascade Designs (2001), Columbia Sportswear (1998), Eagle Creek (2000, 2005), Keen Footwear (2004), Osprey (2007), prAna (2003), Smith Optics (2002, 2009), Vasque (1995, 1996), Vibram (2010, 2011) and Yakima (1993).
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 is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.