Dive Shops: The Heart of the Dive Industry

Scuba diving shops are the heart of the dive community. Owned and operated by good folks who have dedicated their lives to keeping the porch light on for all of us in diving, they ensure that we always have the service, training, travel, equipment and advice we want and need as divers. It’s the dive shop around the corner that establishes and nurtures long-term relationships with divers and the same shops we go back to time and time again because they’ve earned our trust and we see them as our neighbors. They best embody the diving lifestyle, having sacrificed a great deal to be there for us at a local level across the world, and they deserve our support and loyalty.

These days, it’s not easy to be a specialty retailer, with many stresses and threats to their survival and prosperity. What separates those who do survive and prosper? A million variations, but basically its embracing the eworld coupled with products/services/customer experiences that are impossible or substantially disadvantageous online. Easy example – Starbucks. You order your iced Macchiato online, but do you have it shipped? No, you pick it up – central to the Starbucks experience. You can buy their coffee online, but it’s not the same at home, nor likely would you without your prior in-store experiences.

Dive shops are the same. Like diving itself, learning to dive, investing in dive gear, interacting with other divers and getting ready for a group dive trip are personal experiences, not online experiences. You can start courses, set up schedules, order equipment and do a lot of other things online with your retail dive shop. But eventually you end up there because you want to. The people there are fun, they know their stuff and they make your dive experiences personal, rewarding adventures. They hook you up with the best gear for you, tailored to you (again, personal), and show you the best diving for what you love about diving (personal yet again). Diving is way better because of them.

The bottom line is that dive shops are the center of the diver experience where everything comes together. That’s not changing, and neither is the PADI philosophy of keeping divers connected to them. Dive retailers need our support and loyalty as they stand against ever-changing threats and pressures.

I don’t want to see a world where the local dive shops cannot survive. They are the stewards of local diving lifestyle and culture. In my book, that is precious and rare. It is supremely worth protecting.

 

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

Diving’s Finest Hour

Over the last weeks, the world watched drama unfold in Thailand with the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave. It was an awe inspiring example of humanity at its best, focused on a single noble purpose. Setting aside titles and differences, some of the world’s top cave divers and other international experts selflessly converged there with their skills and resources. The Thai government wisely leveraged this, mobilizing its SEALs and internal resources, enabling the best-of-the-best to collaborate and apply their respective skills creatively and effectively in a difficult, dynamic situation.

To say that I take pride in what the dive community did is an understatement – this was diving’s “Apollo 13” – action and focus propelled by the unshakeable conviction that those boys would not die on diving’s watch. But, unlike Apollo 13, the rescuers had to go into “space” themselves, and the tragic loss of the Thai SEAL, Saman Kunan, highlights the difficulties, dangers and risks the rescuers faced and accepted. On behalf of the global PADI family, thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who was part of this – whether you hazarded the cave with the boys, or hauled cylinders to and from the site. To borrow from the Apollo 13 movie, it was diving’s finest hour. And, it took all of you to make it happen.

 

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

A Message from Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide

American author Mark Twain popularized a saying about innuendo, assumptions and conjectured numbers used to prop up slander:

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.

Twain’s words certainly apply to a recent internet rumor that PADI is up for sale again. It is not. There are no discussions anywhere at any level to sell or buy PADI. The news on this is that there is no news.

Normally, I ignore PADI hate-mongering and chitchat flitting about in social media. The internet spreads gossip faster and wider than at any time in history, but most of us know propaganda and lies when we see them. Lacking substance to stand on, these typically erode quickly, so there’s no need to let them distract us. But in this case, speculation and perjure masqueraded as news (complete with “secret sources” – bless their hearts) so I’m setting the record straight.

As most in the dive industry knows, in 2017 the PADI organization secured support from a strong international consortium of long-term individual and group North American and European investors. This group does not involve itself in PADI’s day-to-day decisions or operations, but fully supports the PADI family’s missions to lead the dive industry and help shape a positive future for our oceans. We’re blessed with a growing group of exceptional managers and employees in international offices, but final authority and responsibility stops on my desk.

The PADI organization will continue to invest in the right products, people and programs that enable PADI Members to succeed by fulfilling divers’ interests, dreams and desires, and that support the PADI Four Pillars of Change, PADI Foundation and Project AWARE and other initiatives that make the world a better place.

For those interested, here’s some nonfiction (I won’t call it news because it’s been true for quite awhile): PADI Members make PADI the strongest brand in diving, and personally leverage the power of divers as a force for strong, positive change in ocean health, conservation and education in more than 183 countries and territories. Honestly, I’m humbled to serve the PADI membership – a positive, proactive family of individuals, retailers, resort operators and divers around the world who are the real stewards, and hands and feet of PADI’s missions. They exemplify where all of us in the industry really need to be putting our effort.

Thank you.

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO