Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)

2016 Corporate Champion of the Chesapeake

Lloyd and Mary Anderson founded Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) in Seattle, Washington in 1938. What began as a group of 23 mountain climbing buddies is now the nation’s largest consumer cooperative, with more than three million active members and over 11,000 employees. Through the 1970s it identified itself prominently as REI Co-op, focusing primarily on equipment for serious climbers, backpackers and mountaineering expeditions. However, in the 1980s, with changes to its Board of Directors, the emphasis shifted toward family camping and branched out into kayaking, bicycling, and other outdoor sports.

Each year, REI donates millions of dollars to support conservation efforts nationwide and sends dedicated teams of volunteers—members, customers and REI employees—to build trails, clean up beaches, restore local habitats, and more. REI and the Chesapeake Conservancy have created a partnership plan to identify opportunities to support stronger public access to water trails in concert with REI’s DC flagship store opening. The first porjects in the partnership will include building a new public access site on Wye Island scheduled for completion in the Summer of 2017 as well as support for additional opportunities to connect Baltimore communities to the Patapsco River.


Accepting the award on REI’s behalf is Mid-Atlantic Manager for REI Outdoor Programs and Outreach, Matt Liddle. In his position, Matt oversees outdoor education and recreation programs serving over 18,000 registered participants annually in the greater Washington D.C. area. He leads the team responsible for REI’s events portfolio and philanthropic partnerships for the region. Matt has worked in the outdoor industry since 2001, serving in leadership roles in youth, international, and collegiate programs prior to his role at REI. Matt has a Master’s Degree in Outdoor Education from the University of New Hampshire and a Bachelor’s in Chinese and in Anthropology, both from the University of Pittsburgh. Matt lives in Takoma Park with his wife Jill and their two boys. The four of them live for climbing, skiing, biking, camping, paddling, swimming, running, surfing and anything that keeps them outside.