SALT LAKE CITY – Each day, leading outdoor retailer REI offers the top gear and apparel from more than 1,300 established and up-and-coming brands. To recognize those valued partners, REI named its 2013 Vendor Partner of the Year awards during the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show. Kühl was presented with the annual Vendor Partner of the Year award, while Osprey Packs, Rossignol and Darn Tough Vermont 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 to bring quality, innovation, outdoor stewardship and performance to the industry. REI retail employees vote on the slate of nominees.
“Kühl has completely redefined success and partnership in the sportswear business,” says Susan Viscon, vice president REI Merchandising. “Every decision is principle-based, from sourcing and distribution to investment and partnership with REI. Their innate ability to differentiate in a very crowded space delivers above-market performance year after year.”
Based in Salt Lake City and the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Kühl is a product-driven company combining exclusive fabrics and 3D engineering for timeless style and comfort. With a motto of Born in the Mountains®, Kühl is for “independent, free thinking, Rebels, Renegades and Outlaws™.” From shirts and sweaters, to pants and jackets for men and women, the company offers the finest designs and tailoring to suit peoples’ active sports and leisure time.
The divisional vendor partner award recipients are:
- Camp/Travel division: Osprey Packs (Cortez, Colo.)
Osprey has long set the standard for creating innovative, high quality gear carrying equipment. Its location 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. REI recognized Osprey in 2007 as its overall Vendor Partner of the Year, and in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 as the camp/travel division recipient.
- Actionsports division: Rossignol (Park City, Utah)
For over 100 years, Rossignol has been the benchmark in winter sports, making skiing and riding easier, more inspiring and more fun. From competitive athletes to cautious first-timers, its technical innovations in construction and design continue pushing the boundaries of what skiers and riders can achieve on snow. No matter where the snow takes you, whether you’re resort-based or backcountry-bound, Rossignol delivers the groundbreaking performance, versatility, and ease-of-use to ensure yet Another Best Day. The company was recognized by REI as a Vendor Partner category winner in 1993, 1995 and 2003.
- Outdoorwear division: Darn Tough Vermont (Northfield, Vermont)
Darn Tough Vermont is an American manufacturer of premium, all-weather outdoor socks with specialty and tactical product lines. Its product is distinguished from industry competitors by 100 percent USA manufacturing; small-needle knitting which results in more stitches per inch and exceptional durability and cushioning; True-Seamless™ technology; and an exclusive blend of either Coolmax® or ultra-fine merino wool for comfort, fit, durability and moisture management. Founded by Ric Cabot in 2004, a third-generation sock maker, Darn Tough Vermont operates out of Cabot Hosiery Mills.
Past recipients of the REI Vendor Partner of the Year Award include Atlas Snowshoe (1999), Black Diamond Equipment (1994, 2006), Bell Sports (1997), Brooks (2012), 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 $2 billion national multichannel retail co-op headquartered outside of Seattle. With more than 5 million active members, REI serves the needs of outdoor adventurers through innovative, quality products; inspiring classes and trips; and integrated customer service that allows shoppers to buy great gear and clothing in any way they want. REI has 132 stores in 33 states, as well as REI.com and REI.com/outlet. Anyone may shop with REI, while members pay a one-time $20 fee to receive a share in the company’s profits through an annual member refund. REI membership also includes special promotions and discounts on REI Adventures trips and REI Outdoor School classes.
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