Rebuilding Local Diving Communities

Rebuilding Local Diving Communities –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The COVID-19 Pandemic has given us the opportunity to stop and think about what we do for a living.  And for a recreation.  With all this time on our hands, Dive Industry Professionals are faced with some hard realities on how to proceed in the future.  We know this pandemic is very serious.  It’s devastating to the health of our people and it’s devastating to our economy.  Without a doubt, this crisis will change the way we live, work and recreate.  So let’s deal with it, learn from it and move forward.

I’m a Dive Industry Marketing Professional. Not a Doctor, a Government Health Official or a Politician.  World leaders in the medical profession are studying the virus, trying to find treatments and cures for it and are working non-stop to save lives.  Organizations like the CDC are recommending precautionary measures for citizens to follow and we should heed their advice.  Business organizations like the Small Business Development Centers are helping Entrepreneurs apply for loans, obtain grants and learn how to navigate through this economic nightmare.  Even in the diving industry I am seeing encouraging work coming from some of our leading companies.  This pandemic will end and hopefully soon.  We will get through this and the rest of our lives will be in our hands.  It’s time to start planning for the future – a bright future.

In my opinion, the diving industry has and will change forever.  I don’t see us getting back to the way it used to be.  It will be different and in many, many years hopefully better.  Consider this to be our golden opportunity to rebuild the diving industry.  For the better.

Over the past sixty years, scuba diving as a recreation grew.  Many of our Founding Pioneers have since passed away and a second generation of diving adventurers have picked up where our pioneers left off.   I hope they remember what our pioneers did to make the recreation start, grow and succeed because we are at a point in time where we are going to have to rebuild the industry, post COVID-19.

The Dive Industry Association has a plan for rebuilding the diving industry,  It’s based on what our early pioneers did in creating the market for our recreation but not making the same mistakes we made in the past twenty years.  Our plan is spelled out in our campaign DIVE LOCAL.  Scuba diving started out as a local social recreation.  Scuba Diving enthusiasts bought or made diving equipment to enjoy the wonders of their local rivers, lakes, quarries and oceans.  Being social animals they taught their family and friends how to dive.  On Weekends they went diving together – locally.  Divers started talking pictures underwater, exploring shipwrecks, and doing some wonderful underwater exploration.  As the travel industry matured, divers had more options and oceans to explore.  During the off-season divers read scuba diving magazines, joined dive clubs and went to local dive shows and film festivals.  As more people took up diving, the sales of diving equipment, training and travel increased.  More dive stores opened up, more companies distributed diving equipment and certification agencies grew. Dive travel was introduced and blossomed.  Three things started the industry on its decline.  The Baby Boom generation got older and new population numbers decreased.  The 21st arrived and the industry was still using 20th business tools or none at all.  COVID-19 brought the world to an all halt.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully it’s not a train.

We can start rebuilding our industry right now.  As we learn to deal with the corona virus and stay safe, let’s rebuild our recreational infrastructure.   We start by creating Regional Territories, made up of states, made up of local diving communities.  As outlined in our website we make Dive Stores the center of each Local Dive Community.  Add the Equipment Sales Reps who visit these stores and then the diving equipment companies that reside in these communities.  Next we add the Training Agency Sales Reps and the agencies they represent that visit the Retailers.  The completion of the first phase of this rebuilding is to add Local Dive Travel Specialists who sell local and extended dive travel.  We now have a complete Local Diving Community of Dive Industry Professionals.  All that’s left to do is add the Local Divers and we have a complete Local Diving Community.

Our new White Paper, The Rebuilding of Local Diving Communities will spell out, step-by-step how the diving industry can rebuild itself post-COVID-19.

For more information, contact:
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Posted in DIVE LOCAL - International | Leave a comment

Alaska Dive Stores – Week 14

Building a Dive Retail Database in Alaska
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.


Starting on Week 14 in 2020, Dive Industry Association is beginning a campaign to verify its Retail Dive Store database on the DIVE LOCAL Website. Every week we will focus on a new state. Alaska is the first one. The purpose of the listing is three-fold. We want to identify all Retail Dive Centers, worldwide, that are teaching diving, selling dive gear, talking people diving and keeping them active in the recreation. We want to bring more divers into our recreation. Finally, we want to create an active local dive community in the State of Alaska.

The Dive Stores in Alaska are part of the Northwest Diving Community of the United States. Dive Stores are, in our opinion, the heartbeat of our recreation and usually the first contact with the general public. Dive Retailers are our Ambassadors of the Diving Industry.

Starting on April 1 (no joke) the Dive Industry Association will be mailing a post card to every Retail Dive Center in the United States to verify their mailing address. Every week we will pick a new State to focus on. On Week 14 we will list every Alaska Dive Store in our NW Dive Stores Directory on To prevent email address farming, we will only publish the stores name and their city & state.

If a local Retailer would like us to publish their website address they only need to mail one of their business cards to Dive Industry Association, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904.


The Dive Industry Association is promoting and support Retail dive Centers through its Dive Industry Retailers Association. All Retail Dive Centers are invited to join the association that promotes dive stores regardless of their equipment or training agency preference. A united retail dive organization is the first step to a growing and healthy industry.

For more information contact: Gene Muchanski, Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904. email: Web:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Participate in DIVE LOCAL – Regional & International

Participate in the Industry Program – DIVE LOCAL 
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Step 5 to uniting the diving industry is to participate in the international diving cooperative program, DIVE LOCAL.  DIVE LOCAL is a project of the Dive Industry Foundation, a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) tax-deductible, charitable organization.  DIVE LOCAL is international in scope and one of its sponsors is the Dive Industry Association.  DIVE LOCAL has a Blog Website, a Facebook Page and its own Twitter Account.  The main goal of DIVE LOCAL is to create opportunities for local diving businesses and help them succeed in business, thereby growing the industry.

Our first task is to define the size of the industry and its economical potential.  To do that we must identify the dive businesses and dive industry professionals that make up the dive business community.  To ensure that only current dive businesses are listed in our directories on we are asking dive businesses to send us their current business card and any marketing materials they may have on their company.

Anyone who comes in contact with a Dive Industry Professional can participate in this project.  Manufacturers can send us a business card from each of their key employees and Reps as well as their product catalog, Dealer Price Sheet and any marketing materials they may have.  Dive Retailers can get a business card from every Sales Rep who visits their store.  Sales Reps can get a Business Card from every Dive Store they visit throughout the year or see at the DEMA Show or Regional Dive Show they attend.  It would be very helpful if you put them in the mail to us on a monthly basis.  Training Agencies come in contact with a tremendous number of Dive Industry Professionals and can and should be a big help in this project.

The reason we ask for the original business cards is that we use Card Scan hardware and software to process and file the cards for our industry database, which is currently at about 4,900 Dive Businesses and Industry Professionals.

But first, allow me to destroy some common myths and assumptions associated with this project and give you some guarantees that will make you feel more at ease.  First of all, DIVE LOCAL will not share any sensitive content about your company to any individuals in the industry.  In the case of dive companies, we only list the name of the company, it’s city, state and country and its website address on our Regional and Worldwide Directories.  That is to give you exposure and promotion to potential customers, not to get you on everyone’s spam list.  In the case of Dive Stores and Dive Boats, 99% of these businesses want people to visit their business website.  That’s how you get customers.  Dive Clubs and Dive Instructors may have different ideas on how they advertise for customers and that is on our “To Discuss” list.

Secondly, we are listing dive businesses (Manufacturing, Retail, Training and Travel) that are registered businesses with their city, state, county and country governments.  They are finite in number and their contact information is available to the public.  There is no secret as to who they are or where they do business.  Why would any company doing business in public want to hide from being discovered by potential customers?

DIVE LOCAL already has special cooperative programs for Training and Manufacturing Sales Reps to help them identify Retail Dive Centers in their territory.  We have gotten business cards from a number of Reps and even listed their accounts on a database that is specifically tailored to them.   Their list can be emailed to them quickly and as needed should they lose or forget to bring their Dealer Accounts Book with them on the road.  Of course, their list is never available to anyone but them.  A great benefit of this program is our automatic updates to the Reps when we discover an out-of-business Dealer or a new Dive Store in their territory.  Any Sales Rep can call our office for details and how our program can be of value to them.

The last myth I would like to dispel is the fact that any customer is “Your” customer and belongs to you.  First of all, customers do not belong to you.  They are yours only for that period of time when you meet their needs with goods and services they need, want and can afford.  If you want them to be your customer for a longer period of time, you must continue to meet their needs.  In the 1960’s and 1970’s the major certification agencies published Directories of their Scuba Instructors.  The directory listings helped working Instructors find new students.  As Instructors stopped teaching classes, the need to be in a directory vanished and actually became a problem with unwanted phone calls asking about new classes.  Another problem was that agency competitors may have been using these directories to solicit Instructors.  Either way, the working Professional Educators lost a good source of marketing exposure.

Now in the 21st Century we have Instructor and Dealer Directories on-line.  It seems that everyone has a directory, but unfortunately many are not well kept or current.  And there still is no all-inclusive, industry-wide directory.  Maybe with DIVE LOCAL, that will all change.

The DIVE LOCAL Website, Facebook Page and Twitter is live.
Visit our website –  – read our blogs.
Like us on facebook –
Follow us on twitter –
Contact us by phone: 321-914-3778.
Contact us by e-mail:
Contact us by Direct Mail:
Dive Industry Foundation
2294 Botanica Circle
West Melbourne, FL 32904

Posted in DIVE LOCAL - International | Leave a comment

2016 Northeast Summit Meeting Held at Beneath the Sea

 2016 Northeast Summit Meeting Held at Beneath the Sea
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

2nd Annual Conference Attended by 42 Dive Professionals.
 The Northeast summit was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Secaucus, New Jersey on Friday, April 1, 2016.  Held in conjunction with the Beneath the Sea Dive Show, the conference drew a very good crowd. The Speakers were excellent and presented a strong case for the benefits and enjoyment of local diving.  During the second hour of the summit, the attendees divided into two groups and opened a very “spirited” discussion about the challenges to the industry in the Northeast and nationally.  One group consisted of Retailers, Dive Boats and Certification Agencies.  The second group consisted of Resorts, Dive Clubs, Instructors, and Millennial Divers. Excellent notes were taken during the program and much of the action was caught on video.  The final hour of the summit was dedicated to comparing notes on the two discussions and talking about actionable items that can be implemented to help build a “Plan of Action” to deal with the obstacles and challenges in the Northeast Diving Community.
Posted in Northeast U.s. | Tagged | Leave a comment

Sebastian, Florida to hold Lionfish Fest

lionfish-fest-logo-200Making Delicious Dishes Out of Destructive Fishes
by Dana Polites
Southeast Dive News Correspondent

Capt Hiram’s Resort in Sebastian, FL will host the first Lionflish Fest on Saturday May 14, 2016. The event features a REEF sanctioned Lionfish Tournament Derby and a Lionfish Cookoff. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is the main sponsor.

The Lionfish tournament is open to teams of 2-4 divers beginning at sunrise. Cost to enter is $125 per team. Catch weigh-in for the teams will be from 1-4 PM. Prizes will be awarded for Most Fish, Largest Fish and Smallest Fish and REEF will be collecting scientific data on fish length.  All existing federal, state, and local laws must be followed

Following the fishing tourney from 4 – 6pm the Cook-off begins. This event is open to the public and tickets are available for $15 per person.  Robin Miller, General Manager for Capt Hiram’s told us that 6 local restaurants will have their chefs, including Capt Hiram’s chef Dan Wood, cooking up some delicious Lionfish dishes for tasting and the best dish will be chosen by the audience.

Kendra Cope, Environmental Specialist Coastal Engineering Division for Indian River County said guests will learn about the lionfish invasion, how to prepare these fish safely, and different ways to help protect our coastal ecosystems from their harmful biological impacts.

More information is available at:

Posted in Florida, South East U.S. | Leave a comment

South Central Summit Held in Dallas


Photo by Jennifer Idol

South Central Summit Meeting Recap
Friday, January 22, 2016
Embassy Suites, Frisco, TX
By Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

The first regional summit meeting of the South Central United States was held during the Lone Star State Dive & Travel Show in Frisco, Texas.  Twenty One (21) Dive Industry Professionals attended, representing dive stores, dive boats, dive clubs, dive instructors and various dive businesses.

This is one Man’s summary of the discussions that were held at the Summit.  If I missed something, please add to this.  We are looking for active engagement.  If you have a store, boat or club, you have been listed on the DIVE LOCAL Directory on our Blog.  If we missed someone, please let us know.  Thank you.

Guest Speakers

Rick Stratton, Dive News Network kicked off the program by explaining the concept behind the Regional Summit Meetings.  Why it is important to promote local diving.

Gene Muchanski, Dive Industry Association, Inc:  Talked about a shared industry campaign, DIVE LOCAL, and what it is trying to accomplish.  Gene said that, “Promoting the diving industry to the general public is a shared responsibility of all actively engaged Dive Professionals.  We must all do our part to grow the recreation.”  DIVE LOCAL defines the Local Diving community as Dive Stores, Dive Boat Operators, Dive Clubs, Dive Instructors and Local Resorts where applicable.  The sectors of the Diving Industry that have the most to gain from the promotion and success of the Local Diving Community is the; 1) Certification Agencies that sell certifications.  2) Manufacturers that sell dive equipment.  3) Travel Businesses that sell travel trips.  Therefore, they should be sponsoring DIVE LOCAL and providing co-opt advertising dollars to the campaign.  The message we want to send to the general public is 1) Learn to Dive.  2)  Buy Your Gear.  3) Go Diving.  4) Stay Active.

Tom Ingram, DEMA: Tom talked about local diving impacting the community.  Tom had statistics to show the diving industry is under performing.  Certifications are down 13% over the last 10 years. He showed us where local diving fits in. He says that giving divers something fun to do keeps them more active.  He pointed out that “local diving is perfect for the current economic conditions.”  One activity he spent time on was “Dive Caching.”  He introduced a new DEMA program called “Go Dive Now.”

Eric Peterson, Scubapro Regional Sales Manager:  Local Texas Diver talked about Dive Around Texas and what it did for the local economy. The program ran for six years and in the fifth year included DEMA’s Dive Caching.  One activity gave away a grand prize of $1,000.  Looking for local new ideas.

Jennifer Idol, The Underwater Designer:  Jennifer is credited to being the first Woman to Dive all 50 States.  That’s a lot of local diving.  She shared her experience in traveling around the country and visiting many dive stores along the way.  She talked about customer’s expectations.  She asked “When you visit a store, what are your expectations?  How do you want to be treated when you visit a store?“

Breakout Session – Focus Groups

  1. Group 1 – Clubs & Instructors
  2. Group 2 – Stores , Dive Boats & Resorts

Both of the groups focused on potential solutions to growing the local dive community rather than fixating on problems and challenges.  There was some conversation about the current dive leaders not taking the younger generation seriously enough and not respecting them for their accomplishments.  We had a brief discussion about Internet Sales and concluded that internet sales at a dive store is one type of business model.  Stores either choose to use that method or they don’t.  We discussed the importance of relationships with our customers and treating our employees and staff as future leaders in the industry.  We agreed that diving activities are the lifeblood of a local diving community but there was little discussion how dive professionals communicate their planned activates to their customers.  The group would like to see more collaboration between stores and clubs.  Youth activities are a great way to promote diving to young people.  One group should be age 8-17 and a second one from age 18-29.  It works well for churches, why not diving?

Regional Problems

  • Millennials are not shown respect


  • Millennials are an untapped resource
  • Teaching diving at Colleges & Universities grows the industry and supplies us with young divers. There is much opportunity at local colleges to teach scuba diving.

Potential Solutions

  • Social – Fun – BBQ
  • Dive Caching
  • Dive Around Texas
  • Promote relationships – Trust & respect – Be the white knight !
  • Communicate with your customers. How?
  • Promote Social Aspects of Diving / personal / fun / relationships – promote events.
  • Take relationships from stranger to customer to friend
  • Hold Clean-up events
  • Recommendations from Dive Clubs
  • Dive shops should feed the clubs
  • Can stores help with club events?
  • Improve Collaboration between stores & clubs
  • Clubs could promote store events
  • Better web sites, social media
  • Games, treasure hunts, keep them active
  • Work together more (leadership meetings between clubs)
  • More educational tips & tricks
  • Mentorship program – New divers to be diving leaders
  • Get new divers involved – give them a purpose
  • Season club members
  • Modernize communication methods
  • Make younger divers feel more comfortable
  • Emphasize youth
  • Set up course – under 30 – event / trip – in line with HS & College graduation
  • Lifestyle – Youth Groups
  • Monthly Newsletter – cross promotion

Actionable Items

  • Create social environment of trust – collaboration
    • Create a cooperative environment between clubs & shops
    • Create New Diver Mentorship Program
    • Create model for Youth oriented Groups (10-17) and (18-30)
  • Unique marketing plan to match the event
  • Cross marketing with other sports
  • Co-communicate with colleges & universities
  • Opportunities with colleges to teach diving
  • Help industry promote diving
  • Create Events like “Tenchiller”

Ways to Stay Connected to DIVE LOCAL

Ways to improve the economic impact of the local diving community. 

  • We need to establish a base line of where we currently are financially.
  • How many stores, boats, clubs and instructors are in the Greater Texas area?
  • Who promotes diving the most and what media do they use to get the message to the public?
  • How many active divers are there in the South Central? Where do they dive and how often?

Information we need

  • Economic Impact of Dive Store – Request a Retail Profile Survey form Dive Industry Association at
  • What is the State of the Dive Industry’s Sales Force? – Request a Sales Rep Profile Survey form Dive Industry Association at
  • We need complete contact information on dive Stores, Dive Boats, Clubs and Instructors.

Please correspond with the other attendees from the Dallas Summit Meeting and copy Gene Muchanski at


Posted in South Central U.S. | Leave a comment

North Central Summit Held in Chicago


Photo by Jennifer Idol

North Central Summit Meeting Recap
Friday, February 26, 2016
Hyatt Regency O’Hare, Rosemont, IL
By Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

The first regional summit meeting of the North Central United States was held during the Our World-Underwater Dive & Travel Show.  Nineteen (19) Dive Industry Professionals attended, representing dive stores, dive boats, dive clubs, dive instructors, certification agencies and various dive businesses.

Gene Muchanski, Dive Industry Association kicked off the program by explaining the concept behind the cooperative industry campaign called DIVE LOCAL.  The Goal of the campaign is to unite the local diving community in the Greater Chicago area to work together on activities that have the potential to increase the participation and economic impact of the local dive community.  Growing the diving industry begins with promoting and growing the local diving communities.  The heart of every local diving community consists of its Dive Stores, Boat Operators, Dive Clubs and Dive Instructors.

The objective of this cooperative campaign is to educate the general public about the Joys of Scuba Diving.  We need to show current divers, former divers and prospective divers how to 1) Learn to Dive (Initial training and continuing education);  2) Buy their dive gear;   3) Go Diving;  4) Stay active in the recreation.

The Summit consisted of a series of guest speakers followed by two breakout sessions. The speakers included, Patrick Hammer, Scuba Emporium, Rick Stratton, Dive News Network, Capt. Jim Gentile, Windy City Diving, Margo Miller, Illinois Council of Skin & Scuba Divers, and Lucy Dunbar, PADI Americas Regional Representative.

Patrick Hammer spoke about the importance of dive store sponsored activities and events to keep local divers enthused about the sport.  While Hammer admitted that gear sales are down, classes are way up, and he is having a good year. He encouraged other retailers and clubs to sponsor local dive events.

Rick Stratton spoke about the dive industry as a whole with respect to local diving.  Local diving is down all across the country, not just the Midwest said Stratton.  Stratton encouraged local shops, clubs and instructors to promote local diving as the mainstay support of our industry.

Jim Gentile spoke about his experience working with a variety of shops and clubs to promote the sport locally. He has seen a severe decline in the number of divers diving locally and wants to work to promote local diving with the help of other charters, stores and clubs.

Margo Miller spoke about her experience working with a variety of dive clubs across the state of Illinois. She stated that dive club membership is way down overall and many clubs have disbanded due to lack of attendance or activity. Many of the clubs have no real activity explained Miller. She emphasized the need for cooperation within the clubs to promote the sport.

Lucy Dunbar spoke about her experience running a successful dive store and the need for the dive stores to work effectively to promote local diving and activities. A dive store can only be successful if they develop a group of divers who dive locally and often, said Dunbar.

In the second hour, the group broken into focus groups including dive clubs, instructors, resorts. They discussed the problems with the local area including aging membership base, the lack of good meeting places, and people reluctant to take a leadership role.

The dive retailers face problems too including dropout rates, course prices that have not kept up with inflation, instructors who do not seem to value marketing, and everyone recognized that it is a struggle to communicate, especially online.

The group recognized that the upcoming millennials market is a potential huge market who seem to value travel and experiences over acquiring more stuff and that the social aspect of the sport is a huge motivator to get people to join the sport.

Finally, the group joined a larger discussion of potential solutions. With the baby boomers still booming, senior only trips is a potential resource. Dive clubs can work together to promote group events, helping each other remain active. Dive clubs could offer to help cross market diving with other clubs of dissimilar interests such a motorcycle club having a try scuba event.  They said that everyone should try attracting more active customer base that values extremes, like backpacking or all-inclusive, focus on the social aspect of the sport and work with other groups to share successes and best practices.

All-in-all, the second Local Diving Summit was a success and everyone seemed genuinely inspired by the event. The Dive Local campaign now has two successful events and nearly 40 members. Next stop is Beneath the Sea, in Secaucus, NJ on April 1, 2016.

Guest Speakers

Gene Muchanski, Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Rick Stratton, Dive News Network

Local Speakers

Patrick Hammer, Scuba Emporium

Capt. Jim Gentile, Windy City Diving

Margo Miller, Illinois Council of Skin & Scuba Divers

Lucy Dunbar, PADI Americas Regional Rep

Breakout Session – Focus Groups

  1. Group 1 – Clubs
  2. Group 2 – Instructors
  3. Group 3 – Resorts

Regional Problems

  • Aging membership
  • Finding meeting places
  • People are reluctant to take a Leadership role
  • Drop out problem
  • Prices of courses have not keep up over time
  • Instructors will take more diving courses but not marketing courses
  • Industry resistant to using marketing experts
  • Email is getting passe – many don’t read their emails anymore


  • Millennials are a hugh market
  • Social aspect of diving is very important
  • You can have a career in diving – We need a Pathway to a successful career

Potential Solutions

  • Senior-only Trips
  • Combine Club Events
  • Need to do more than just Dive
  • Link up / partner with other clubs
  • Cross market to other clubs – i.e. motorcycle clubs
  • Plan trips that are more demographically similar
  • Cater to Extremes – i.e. Backpacking side trips
  • Promote all-inclusive trips – $$$
  • Attract other adventure sports people
  • Broaden horizons
  • Courses that meet needs
  • Make group photos interesting
  • Build a pathway to a successful diving career
  • Don’t take away from the “Thrill of Adventure.”

Actionable Items

  • Acquire New Club Members
  • Focus on social aspect of the sport
  • Develop best-practices for Youth Groups.
  • Create sharable content for newsletters & communication
  • Change the image of the diving industry
  • Improve communication with industry shareholders
  • Publish & Promote Local Diving Events & Activities


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment