When they had to import an ice axe from Austria, they saw the need and potential demand for quality products such as climbing gear for people involved in outdoor activities. Located in Kent, about 18 miles south of Seattle, it is a privately held company that is organized as a consumers' cooperative. The company has over 100 stores in 27 states and opens between four to six new stores on average every year. Catalogs and Internet sales also account for a significant part of its $1.43 billion in sales (as of 2008). The company has over 10,000 employees.
The average hourly pay rate for a sales associate was $10 in 2009, while the associate manager's rate was $18 and the store manager earned $25 per hour. The pay scale also varies according to the individual's experience level. REI repeatedly makes the rank of Fortune magazine's ''100 Best Companies to Work for in America''. In 2008, it was ranked number 34 on the list, marking its entry for the 11 time since 1998. Almost 80% of the company's workforce is found in its retail stores where the most common positions available are merchandise stocker, ski/bike technician, customer service specialist, cashier specialist and sales specialist. The retail management positions available are store manager, assistant store manager and supervisor. Employees can start in a retail sales position and can be promoted into the retail management positions.
Employee benefits in REI jobs
Pay: REI follows an incentive pay model through its REI Xcels incentive pay plan. The targets are decided according to the employee's pay grade. Then the company decides its annual goals as well as individual and department goals. All of the company's employees are eligible to be a part of this plan.
Retirement and Profit Sharing: REI has a Retirement and Profit Sharing Plan that gives its employees several investment options. In its profit sharing plan, eligible employees get a contribution of 5% and an additional 10% based on company profitability.
Healthcare: REI even gives its part time employees (less than 20 hours a week) as well as temporary and seasonal workers health coverage. The plan gives the employee a 60% subsidy of the cost from REI and full payment in case of accidental death and dismemberment. The company also provides dental coverage. The coverage is also available for spouses, life partners and children who live with the employee.
Professional Growth and Development: REI gives tuition reimbursement to employees pursing higher education. It also gives out grants to employees who want to have a personal outdoor challenge, for example an expedition to Mt. Everest by an employee is covered by the company.
Time Away from Work: REI gives paid time off which includes vacation pay, sick pay, sabbatical pay and eight paid holidays. Leaves for family and medical reasons are also given. An employee can also request his manager for 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year for personal reasons.
Employee Discounts: Employees are given 50% discounts on REI Gear and Apparel. The discount scheme also gives free rentals on certain products and other benefits. This includes the REI Adventures program which employees can use to travel across the world.
Other Benefits: REI has several awards for employees, departments and stores to encourage and reward employee achievement. The company tries to ensure that its employees enjoy and appreciate the outdoors as much as its customers. To achieve this, it has a REI Work/Life program. 50% subsidies are provided for users of public transportation. Employees are also given bonuses for referrals. As if these benefits weren't enough, REI also gives relocation support, sabbaticals and adoption assistance.