Breaking Into The Retail Market

Gene-Video-200Breaking Into The Retail Market
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

I’ve always been fascinated by Retailing.  It’s an Art and it’s a Science.  It is, in fact, the lynch pin between producers and consumers.  As Retailers, we are the Middlemen (and Women), in between where the Supply Chain meets the Demand Chain.  We are both Buyers and Sellers in the eternal game of commerce.  We are the Re-Sellers of the world’s programs, products and services.

I say “we”, because I consider myself a life-long Retailer.  A born professional of the Merchant Class.  My passion has always been focused on the quest to serve and to sell.  I first realized my calling as young boy in Catholic School, where I was directed by the Nuns to sell punch cards for the church’s annual fundraising.  After I sold out my cards, I was always given more cards to sell.  Even then I realized there was something magical about meeting new people and selling them products that made their lives better.  And mine.  I liked people and I believed in what I was selling.

I look back on the jobs I had as a youth; Newspaper Boy, Christmas Card Salesperson, Clothing Salesman, Apparel Sales Consultant, and even my active duty job classification in the Navy was in the Naval Supply System Command.  I majored in Marketing and minored in Retailing at the University of Connecticut.  My first job out of college was with NAUI Worldwide where I was their Marketing Director and in charge of their 250 store Pro Facility Program.  I worked in Retail Dive Stores as an employee, store manager, and owner.  For over 40 years I have always been actively involved in the diving industry’s retail market.  That’s my background.  This is what it means to the diving industry.

Forty years ago there were over 2,400 Retail Dive Stores in our Industry.  And that was just in the United States.  Today there are less than 1,200 stores in the U.S. which means the retail market is 1/2 what it used to be.  There are many reasons for the decline of retail stores in our recreation, and we will explore those reasons throughout the year.  But for now, let’s just say that the size of the retail market is small and definitely underserved.  In the following text, I will attempt to define the current retail market, point out the reasons the market is important to the survival of the industry, dive into some of the weaknesses and challenges of the market segment, and recommend some of the solutions that can overcome these challenges and put the market back on track to recovery.   I have to point out that I may ruffle a few feathers here, but my intention is not to condemn, criticize or complain but to point out problems as I see them and offer solutions that I think would make the situation better.  I hope you don’t mind.  Incidentally I’m pretty thick-skinned and I’ve been shot at before, so I’m OK with your comments.

Why is the Retail Market Important to the Industry? Retail Dive Stores are the heart of the recreational diving industry.  Dive stores teach diving, sell dive equipment, take people diving and keep them active in the recreational.  To me, that means that Dive Industry Professionals working in the retail sector of our industry are the heartbeat of our international diving community.  Dive stores are well suited to be the first point of contact between the general public and the suppliers of diving equipment, training, travel and lifestyle products.  Never underestimate the power of first contact.  But as we will see later, first contact can be a fleeting thing if not managed properly.

Dive Stores are the industry’s first responders.  Store owners are responsible for customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer reactivation if necessary.  Dive stores that are a one-stop-shop for the recreational diving industry are a significant market builder.  By teaching diving, they create the market that purchases diving equipment.  As a full time dive center, these stores retain their customers by forming dive clubs and conducting local, regional, national, and international diving activities.  So when it comes to growing the recreational diving industry, dive stores need to be reminded that they are responsible for creating a local market for diving and maintaining that market to the best of their ability.  In other words, if you teach diving lessons and don’t follow-through with equipment sales, someone else will.  Now you just lost the market you created.

What are the conflicts?  The short answer has to do with a limited amount of time, money and manpower.  The long answer is a little more complicated.  There is so much to do in running a successful diving retail store, that conflict always arise when the owners lose track of their priorities.  A good business plan will spell out the details of why the business was started, how it is organized and operated, and how success is measured. After reading hundreds of retail profiles over the years, we have a pretty good idea of business models that work better than others in the retail industry.

First of all, a retail dive store is not in the diving industry.  It is in the retail industry.  Our Government calls it Industry # 45 in it’s NAICS (North American Industry Classification System).  There are 4 digits after 45 that tells us what kind of retail business it is, but we don’t need to go there for now.  One thing we can all agree on is that our dive stores are in the retail industry and the scuba diving market.  It’s a niche market and it includes recreational education; diving equipment sales, rental and repairs; diving and adventure travel; and the sale of lifestyle products.  Now, to be successful in the retail dive business, the owners have to understand and be proficiently qualified in the diving market and in retail business management.  They have to understand diving and business.

Daily conflict can become apparent when owners don’t understand business or the market they are in.  For now, let’s just say that the diving should be half of your focus and business should be the other half.  Conflict also results when the business owners don’t evenly balance their focus on the things they sell in the store (Dive Equipment – Training – Travel).    Besides running the store, should the owner focus more on teaching diving, selling gear, or going diving?  As a business owner, that is your call to make, not mine.  I am only saying that it should be balanced.

Solutions to your conflict.  The solution to this 60 year old dilemma is simple.  I didn’t say easy.  I said simple.  Go back to your Business Plan and look at your Vision for your Dive Store.  What did you go into business for?  What is your purpose?  Now look at your Mission Statement.  How did you plan to achieve your vision?  The next step, I guess, would be delegation of your talents and those of your staff (if any).  Who is responsible for training new divers (your new market)?  Who is responsible for selling equipment to your customers (your market)?  Who is responsible for keeping your customers active, like taking them on dive trips?  Our recommendation is that you do some serious soul searching and conduct some detailed staff meetings to determine who is qualified to do what specific tasks.  Another thing you should look at are the goals and desires of your store staff.  Why are you and your staff in the business to begin with?  Who is best qualified to produce a specific positive result to your planned outcomes?

A final word of caution.  I know a lot of dive store owners that are either a mom & pop operation or a sole (single) proprietor operation.  I’m not saying it should not be done, but I am saying that this is a very difficult way to go.  If you’re teaching class, you’re not minding the store.  If you’re on a dive trip every month, you’re not minding the store.  But if you’re minding the store all the time, who is creating a new market and selling to them for you?  Who teaches, who travels, and who minds the store is your call to make.  Make it a smart call.

Why it’s difficult to reach the Retail Market.  As you can see.  Dive Store Owners are stretched pretty thin.  They have to be proficient in business.  That’s sales, marketing, accounting, law, merchandising, advertising, social media, computer hardware and software expertise, etc.  They have to be knowledgeable in diving.  That’s instruction, diving skills, dive equipment knowledge and repair, and travel destinations (resorts and liveaboards).  They have to wear many hats and be very good at them to be competitive.  One thing they probably don’t have a lot of is time.  I know many Retailers who don’t read their eMail often and certainly don’t reply to it in a timely manner.  And you can’t blame them.

Making the Industry Better.  There are many things we can do to make the industry better. We can increase our knowledge of the industry by conducting and participating in industry-wide surveys.  We can then improve our services to help each other become more professional, productive and profitable. We can work together to unfragment the industry and decrease duplication of efforts.  We can change our dues structures to allow the retail sector to pick and choose the products and services they purchase from us.  As an example, many organizations require retailers to pay dues to be able to purchase goods and services from them.  If you belong to 3 certification agencies, you have to pay three annual dues, regardless of the numbers of certifications you issue for that agency.  If you want to go to an annual trade event you have to pay dues first before you purchase your ticket.  If you want travel insurance, you have to pay dues first before you can buy insurance.  While all of these programs and products are important to us, we have to think of innovative ways to increase membership by reducing membership costs while increasing membership services and discounts.  Perhaps your annual dues could be reduced as your purchases with an organization increase?  I know it can be done.  It just takes a little pre-planning and customer communication.  A good example is the Surf Expo, in Orlando, Florida.  They have two full time employees who’s responsibility is to get Retail Buyers to attend their two Trade Shows.  Surf Expo does not charge Retail Buyers to attend the show.  The Exhibitors agree with that policy because Retail Buyers make purchases!  We supported a Rep Show in New Jersey one year and invited local Dive Stores to attend for free.  Twenty Five (25) equipment manufacturing Reps paid for the event and 50 Dive Stores attended at no charge.  A lot of orders were written.  We can do that again.

DIA_RETAIL_LOGODive Industry Association has been a leader in the Global Diving Business Community for over 20 years.  Our Member benefits have been on the increase ever since we started “Building a Better Industry, One Member at a Time.”   Our members receive 24 free press releases a year, valued at $4,800.  Our Members are included in numerous Trade Directories and websites at no charge.  We have negotiated discounts for our Members with marketing companies such as Constant Contact and Modern Postcard.  We have helped our members and all Dive Store Owners obtain free passes to Travel and Adventure Shows and the two annual Surf Expos.  We have referred our members to Small Business Development Centers for free business consulting services.  We have recently in the past few years, helped Retail Store Travel Buyers participate in free or low cost familization (FAM) Trips.  We have been successful in obtaining funding for summit meetings, seminar events and luncheons from sponsors who are looking to make connections with the Retail Dive Stores in the United States.  Our Mission is to bring Buyers & Sellers together.

That’s the way a Trade Association builds a better industry.  It all begins by recognizing the importance of the Retail Industry that specializes in our market, and working to meet their needs.  Let us work to meet your needs.

For more information contact:
Gene Muchanski, Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
Phone: 321-914-3778


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Buddy Dive Resort Bonaire Is Open

Buddy Dive Resort Bonaire

Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean, June 4th, 2021

Saturday, June 5th, 2021 – Bonaire welcomed the first direct flights from the USA since 15 months. Needless to say, Buddy Dive Resort is open and more than ready to welcome you.

Even though Buddy Dive Resort has been welcoming guests in the past couple of months, your buddies have been waiting for this moment and are beyond happy to welcome the first visitors from the USA again after 15 months.

Since the outbreak of Covid, Buddy Dive Resort has been busy preparing the full re-opening and took all necessary measures to give its guests a safe and hassle-free vacation.

The testing requirements to travel to Bonaire, include taking either a NAAT test 24 hours before departure to Bonaire or taking a PCR test 72 hours before arrival on Bonaire and an antigen test on Flamingo Airport Bonaire. You can find comprehensive information about all testing requirements and regulations on our website:

Your Buddies on Bonaire hope to see you soon to show you our amazing underwater world, serve you cold drinks in the newly renovated Blennies restaurant, and see you relax in your comfortable apartment!

Are you ready to plan your next trip to Buddy Dive Resort? Or to re-schedule your trip?

We are here to help you. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like some help planning your stay.
+599 717 5080
+599 789 5080
Toll-Free US/Canada:
1-866- GO-BUDDY

About Buddy Dive Resort
Buddy Dive Resort, Bonaire’s leading dive hotel is known for its personable staff, spacious accommodations and a dive operation that has something for every diver. Today, the full-service resort is consisting of eleven modern buildings housing spacious studio’s, one, two- and three-bedroom apartments, a full-service dive center, activity desk, two swimming pools, two restaurants, pool bar, vehicle rentals and the famous drive thru air and Nitrox fill station. Built with active people in mind, Buddy Dive Resort knows exactly what is needed to make guests comfortable both during their busy day of diving and exploring and during relaxing on resort. Over the last few years Buddy Dive Resort was recognized as one of the World’s Best Dive Resorts & Operations in Scuba Diving magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards: Top 100 Gold List. For more information visit

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Creating a Dive Store Directory

Creating a Dive Store Directory
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, Dive Industry Professional

I’ve been a certified scuba diver for 53 years now.  I know – I don’t look that old.  But anyway, throughout my life as an active diver, I have always made sure that I knew where my nearest dive store was when I moved to a new place or when I was on the road traveling.  Funny as it may sound, I’ve always thought of Dive Stores as my home away from home.  The store owners, managers and staff, regardless where they were, spoke the same language I did – DIVING.  They were my source of equipment, training, travel and lifestyle products.  They could always fix things I had that were broken and sold me things I needed to replace.  They knew the best places to dive locally and were always willing to lend a helping hand to a fellow diver.  If you have never experienced that kind of comradery before, give it a try sometime. 

I work for the Dive Industry Association and we publish a directory of our Members to help refer divers to them.  See DIA Directory  A lot of time, money and manpower goes into running an association of equipment manufacturers, training agencies, dive stores, travel businesses, non-profits and the like.  We are actively engaged in the advertising and promotion of our Members.  We work to make sure they are the best at what they do and that the whole diving world knows about them.  We verify that they are actively engaged in business and do the things they say they do.  For all our work, we charge each of them a small annual membership fee.  I personally know each member and I can honestly say that I would recommend any one of their services to the worldwide diving community.

Not every diving business is a member of the Dive Industry Association and many don’t even know who we are.  Why?  I have no idea, but I’d be willing to guess.  Some of the dive businesses I’ve hear about are full time operations and some are part time jobs or a hobby.  Some are large operations and some are small mom & pop companies.  Whatever reason they have for being in business is theirs and theirs alone.  One thing they all have in common though is their love for scuba diving and our recreation.

As a Director of the non-profit organization, Dive Industry Foundation, I’ve been asked to create a directory of Retail Dive Stores in the United States.  Unfortunately, because of the difficult economic times we are in, caused by the covid-19 pandemic, many dive stores will be forced to close their doors this year.  Keeping abreast of 1,500 dive stores, many whom I do not have a working relationship with, is a very difficult task.  I need the help of the Global Diving Community.

Our goal is to create a directory of all the retail dive stores worldwide.  We started off with the United States and created ten territories that we call Regional Diving Communities.  On this website home page you can see that each territory has its own web page.  They are; Northeast, North Central, Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Florida, Caribbean, South Central, Southwest, and South Pacific.  Each page has its own Dive Store Directory.  We listed dive stores that we believe to be in business and have collected a business card from many of them.  The stores that we verified or are verified by Regional Sales Reps have their website URL added.  The ones without a web address have not been verified yet.  As an example, please have a look at our Directory of Dive Stores in Florida.  You’ll see that we list the store name, city, state and website when it’s verified.  See Florida Dive Stores

Here’s how you can help, regardless of your trade affiliation.  If you work in a dive store please mail us one of your business cards.  If your a Sales Rep, please send us one card for each of the Dealers that you visit.  If your a diver, please send us a business card for the store you do business with.  We are looking for members of each Local Dive Community to verify their local dive store and introduce us to the owners or managers.  We will list the store in its regional territory on at no charge.

We  are hoping that a current dive store listing will help local divers get in contact with their local dive store and perhaps, start diving again.  This directory is a passive directory that can be accessed by every certified diver worldwide.  It may even be the beginning of a professional relationship with each dive store and the creation of an active Local Diving Community.

There are only two things we ask.  1) Please mail us a hard copy of the dive store’s business card.  We use Card Scan Software and its part of our verification process.  2) Please don’t tell us our list is old, it’s out of date or it sucks.  We would like to know if a specific store has gone out of business or if a new store has entered the market.  We knew the list wasn’t perfect when we started, but I can assure you, it’s getting better every day because of some real great volunteers in the diving industry.   And no one else is doing this in public.  Thank you.

Please mail your Business Cards and comments to: Dive Industry Foundation, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904.  You can call us at 321-914-3778 or email Gene Muchanski at 



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Rebuilding The Diving Industry Has Started

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

In May of 2020 I wrote a blog post about the necessity of rebuilding local diving communities.  Local diving communities suffered a loss of activity and growth in the past twenty years for a number of reasons; aging population, more recreational options available to consumers, decline of outdoor sports, pollution of our marine environment and a lack of media celebrities promoting the joy of underwater exploration.  Small business has also changed in the past twenty years.  As modern marketing tools were developed to target and reach countless more potential customers, diving companies abandoned their relationships with their local customers and began to centralize their business models.  Companies even attempted to sell their products and services directly to customers in hopes of saving profits and commissions to members of their supply chain.  Some companies who historically have always been a dollar short and a day late are still letting some of their local staff go and replacing them with nameless, faceless figures that operate from their national headquarters.  All I can say is that you are making your own bed, and you’re going to have to sleep in it.

In the mean time, we are rediscovery that diving is a social sport and Local Diving is a social activity.  We also know the value of face-to-face contact and the power of a local referral, whether it be for diving equipment, training or travel.  We know that “Social Media” is not very social and maybe we should be looking for a new way to communicate, like “Local Media.”  We know that we can only run our businesses for now on a small scale because of covid restrictions.  Heck, I would be happy to teach a class of six if all my students bought their own diving equipment.  I would also be delighted taking a dive trip with ten people.  And Dive Resorts would be very happy with that too.

Well, it’s time to get back in the ball game.  Enough with the pretty fish pictures and the boring online seminars about what it would be like to dive again.  It’s time to rebuild the diving industry to reflect the recent changes in our recreation. 

Well, I’m pleased to announce that the rebuilding of the diving industry has started and the Dive Industry Association is doing it.  We didn’t ask for permission from anyone, especially from old rusty companies that may not be in business two years from now.  We are laying out our plan to bring Buyers and Sellers together for mutual benefit.  We are focusing on the sales of diving equipment, training and travel.  We are rallying notable opinion leaders to volunteer their time, money and manpower to help non-profit organizations in our industry to do the work that needs to be done to clean up our environment, organize our business channels of distribution and ensure that our recreation is servicing the millions of divers in the world while supporting our local merchants.  Our message to the world is to “Learn to Dive, Buy Your Gear, Go Diving and Stay Active.”  Our message to the Dive Industry Professional Community is “Get Onboard and Join Us.”   Let’s look at what we’ve done so far.

Step One:  Retail Dive Centers as the Foundation of Local Dive Territories

As part of our initial marketing campaign that started in 2016, we created a concept called DIVE LOCAL.  As outlined in our white paper of September 2016, we drew up local diving communities according to geographical territories.  In the drawing to the left, we started by identifying all the dive stores in the United States by state.  We verified their addresses by conducting a first class post card mailing.  According to our research, there are 1525 dive stores in the U.S.  The exact number isn’t important.  Numbers change.  What’s important is that we started a process that will continue in the future.

We then looked at the concentration of dive stores and grouped them together into workable Territories.  We now have territories in the Northeast, North Central, Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Florida, South Central, Southwest, South Pacific, and the Caribbean.  Exact Territories are not important either.  They are not cast in concreate and can change according to the numbers.  What is important is that Dive Stores are the foundation of our rebuilding.  They are licensed businesses that are a physical part of the states and territories they are in.  Most stores sell diving equipment, training and travel.  Having a local business address is our key ingredient to promoting their location to the general public who can visit and learn all about diving in their own community.

Keeping track of 1,525 dive stores in our country is a big job.  And an expensive one too.  Breaking it down into territories makes it more workable.  Organizing it by state is even more so.  The Dive Industry Association is looing for a retail volunteer from each state to be their state’s spokesperson.  We are looking for each territory to appoint a Territory Advisor to represent the states in their territory and work with us during the year.  This first step will revolutionize the 21st Century Diving Industry.  I guarantee it.

Step Two:  Adding Dive Equipment Sales Reps to the Local Diving Territories

Step two in rebuilding our Local Diving Communities is to bring the Dive Equipment Regional Reps into the plan.  Dive Equipment Sales Reps have long been a crucial element of the industry and yet they are the most unappreciated group in the community.  Have you ever seen a Rep get elected to an Association’s Board of Directors or receive an award for their industry service?  How many Reps do you know that have been inducted into a Divers Hall of Fame?  Do you ever see them at an industry “Black Tie” event?  I didn’t think so.

Well, Dive Equipment Reps, or Sales Agents as they are called, are one of the most important elements in the industry’s channel of distribution.  They are the direct link between Buyers and Sellers in the diving business community.  According to an industry-wide survey in 2002, Reps typically represent 5 companies, to 163 accounts in a 7 state territory.   On average, we found out they spent 183 days a year on the road and spent over $33,000 of their own money traveling to their Dealers.  Sales Reps are the eyes and ears of our Supply Chain.  With the demise of national trade shows, Regional Sales Reps are once again coming into prominence and importance in this post-covid economy.  I personally feel that Regional Sales Agents can once again become the lynch-pin of our global business network – on a regional territorial basis, of course.

DIVE LOCAL has mapped out the 144 Dive Equipment Sales Reps in the United States, based on a first-class post card mailing conducted by the Dive Industry Foundation (non-profit 501c3) this year.  We organized the Reps according to their home addresses due to the fact that travel has become compromised because of the virus.  We honestly feel that Sales Reps who are traveling locally are more effective in sales than Reps who are not traveling.  

Dive Industry Association is working with a number of Sales Reps to help them identify the State of the Retail Industry in diving.  Together we are keeping track of the successes and challenges the Retailers are facing.  Participating Sales Reps can benefit from our persistent marketing efforts while they focus on their local travel and sales.  There are opportunities at Dive Industry Association and Dive Industry Foundation for Sales Reps to participating in volunteer activities and commissioned sales work.  Building a Global Business Network always has benefits that go along with working together. 

Step Three:  Adding Dive Equipment Companies to the Local Diving Territories

Diving Equipment Manufacturers have the most to gain by being a part of the Regional Diving Communities we are building.  Having an organized group of Professional Retail Dive Centers, serviced by Professional Sales Agents leads to continuity of marketing communications and the abundant flow of goods and services.  Many of the antiquated sales methods we have used and are still using in the industry are being replaced by 21st Century sales and marketing techniques that will improve the way we do business on behalf of the recreational diving consumers.  We invite all Diving Equipment Manufacturers to become a part of what we are doing and benefit from it.

For more information on DIVE LOCAL, contact Gene Muchanski, Executive Director of Dive Industry Association, at 



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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.

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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:

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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.
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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

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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.
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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:

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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


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