REI member Hugh Holborn was drinking morning coffee at his home in St. Augustine, Florida, when he received an email from REI inviting him to the co-op’s annual member meeting. “At first, I thought it might be a local meeting. Then I realized that it was in Seattle, a place I hadn’t been since I went to the 1962 World’s Fair when I was five. And that’s when I decided to go.”
Hugh credits the Jacksonville, Florida, REI—“especially Blake in Backpacking”—with helping him to prepare for a five-week hike of the Appalachian Trail that he completed this fall, along with his two sons. “It was life-changing,” Hugh said—an experience that inspired him to hop a plane for a transcontinental journey to the co-op’s member meeting.
Hugh was one of 170 attendees at REI’s 2016 Member Meeting, held at the co-op’s flagship store in Seattle. The crowd included members and REI employees, representatives of nonprofit organizations, REI’s board of directors plus REI’s senior leadership team. Participants heard from REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke, REI Board President Cheryl Scott and the co-op’s CFO Tracie Winbigler. Watch a video of the member meeting’s proceedings here.
Some of the speakers’ key themes included:
REI is vibrant and healthy. In 2015, the co-op experienced another year of healthy growth, with a record 1 million new members—total membership is 6 million—and annual revenues of 2.4 billion. That growth has helped REI invest in and better advocate for the outdoors, with 72 percent of REI’s profits from 2015 going back to members, employees and nonprofit partners.
“As a board, we’re accountable to one body: our members,” Cheryl said. “All our board members share the view that our co-op is centered on a belief in something bigger than business.” This year, four times as many members as last year participated in the REI board election, casting ballots and re-electing four standing board members.
Big ideas make an impact when powered by the collective passion and action of REI’s community. Jerry spoke about the co-op’s decision to launch #OptOutside—to close all 143 stores on Black Friday and pay 12,000 employees to spend the day outside with family and friends. When REI extended the invitation to everyone, more than 1.4 million people chose to opt outside.
#OptOutside was just one way that REI and its members have carried out big ideas in the past year. Co-op employees shared several examples of the community’s collective impact in this video.
A Common Denominator
“All of us involved with REI share a common denominator: the outdoors,” Cheryl commented, speaking about her time on the board and her adventures outdoors. “The experience of being in the outdoors is profound—it makes us better. It’s a place for us to protect and help—and in which we can challenge ourselves.” Remarks by Cheryl and others centered on REI’s four measures of success: employees, members, society and business. Members, employees and nonprofit representatives all participated in an energetic Q&A session that continued those themes.
The Q&A session with Jerry covered a wide range of questions, from “What keeps you up at night?” to inquiries on how to involve more youth in the outdoors.
After flying all the way from Florida, Hugh was not going to pass up the chance to ask a question. He asked Jerry about when REI would open more stores in Florida. (Answer: A second store is coming to Winter Park, Florida, in 2017.) Hugh also met REI board member Bert Quintana, a fellow Floridian and an advocate for a greater co-op presence in the Sunshine State.
“REI has a great heart. I’m glad I made the trip,” Hugh said, before heading out into the flagship store to look for some gear for his next adventure.
View the full Annual Members' Meeting recordings below:
2016 Annual Members’ Meeting, Part 1
CEO Jerry Stritzke opens with an inspiring reminder of the power of the co-op to make the outdoors a better place for generations to come. Board chair, Cheryl Scott, highlights the responsibilities of the board and announces the 2016 election results. CFO Tracie Winbigler shares the financial health of the co-op, according to our four measures of success: members, employees, society and business. The 2016 Annual Members’ Meeting took place on Monday, May 2, 2016, at the Seattle Flagship store.
2016 Annual Members’ Meeting, Part 2
CEO Jerry Stritzke presents several examples of how our community has come together in the past year, demonstrating the collective impact of the members, employees and partners who make up our inspiring co-op. The 2016 Annual Members’ Meeting took place on Monday, May 2, 2016, at the Seattle Flagship store.
2016 Annual Members’ Meeting, Q&A
Co-op leaders answer questions from the audience. The 2016 Annual Members’ Meeting took place on Monday, May 2, 2016, at the Seattle Flagship Store.
Learn more about the benefits of REI membership here.