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, PADI President and CEO

PADI President and CEO

PADI President and CEO

There’s been an exciting change of PADI® ownership to a consortium of conservation-minded family investors. This conglomerate of family wealth investors, based in North America, are run similar to foundations and endowments, who invest long-term in cause-oriented premium brands with dominant market share positions that show steady and consistent growth.

As PADI president and CEO, I’m committed to leading the organization into its next 50 years, as is the entire PADI executive team. Together, we will continue to grow the PADI brand and through our stewardship efforts ensure PADI is not only the best in the world, but also best for the world.

This is a positive transition for the organization as the family wealth investors will hold and nurture PADI for many years. This group is closely aligned with PADI’s mission and supports PADI’s efforts to remain stewards for this amazing brand we all love. The new ownership group includes philanthropists drawn to PADI’s commitment to ocean conservation and preservation. And, most importantly, they respect the organization’s dedication to PADI Member support.

Focus remains on the following global priorities:

  • best-in-class support to ensure PADI Member prosperity and growth
  • new diver acquisition initiatives to attract millions of consumers to the sport and train them to be comfortable and confident divers
  • long-term diver engagement and retention through encouraging divers to explore and seek adventure in the underwater world
  • a deeper purpose vision to inspire all divers to ultimately pay it forward through ocean conservation, marine animal protection, community support, and the healing powers of scuba.

This transition marks the next evolution of the PADI organization and is a positive move for PADI Members and the entire dive industry. As my personal friends, I can confidently say that PADI Founders, John Cronin and Ralph Erickson, would be extremely proud of this next step for the PADI organization and heartened to see that it has transformed into a global force for good for scuba diving and the ocean planet.

I thank you for taking the time to read this message. To all PADI Members, I want to reinforce my personal appreciation of your role and contributions to dive training excellence and aquatic conservation advocacy. You are the heart of the organization and the entire PADI staff remain focused on delivering the best service and support to help you succeed. Together, we are – and will continue to be – The Way the World Learns to Dive® . Be best. Be PADI.

Best personal regards,

Drew Richardson

Drew Signature

President & CEO

PADI Worldwide

PADI President and CEO Dr. Drew Richardson Honored with Diver of the Year Award

Since 1976, PADI Worldwide President and CEO Dr. Drew Richardson has dedicated his life to water safety and diver education. Internationally, Richardson is known as one of the most influential people in diving with a diverse diving portfolio of more than 5000 dives in a variety of environmental conditions and continents including Antarctica. Recognizing his longstanding service and extensive dive industry contributions, the Beneath the Sea show has named Richardson the 2016 Diver of the Year.

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“I’m honored and humbled to receive this recognition as there are so many other more worthy recipients out in the world,” says Richardson. “I’m passionate about diving and I’ve dedicated most of my life to it – to improving dive training to help make divers confident, competent and comfortable underwater. I never get tired of seeing the PADI family change lives with diving, and it happens every day. While this is reward enough, I deeply appreciate this recognition of my contributions to the industry and sport. It’s a great honor.”

DRichardsonMay2015_026-200x300The Diver of the Year Award honors individuals whose presence in the industry have made significant and lasting contributions to the past, present and future of diving. As PADI Worldwide President and Chief Executive Officer, Richardson has led the organization’s strategic direction and leadership team for many years, overseeing its expansion to the largest and most successful dive training organization in the world. Richardson holds undergraduate degrees in Oceanographic Technology and Environmental Science, (with an emphasis in the marine sciences), a graduate degree in Business Administration and a doctorate in Adult Education. His extensive credentials has helped significantly advance PADI’s instructional systems as he oversees the development of every course developed. Today, with Richardson at the helm, PADI’s educational system and training materials are available in 28 languages and used by more than 136,000 diving educators in 175 countries.

A proficient author, Richardson is Editor in Chief of The Undersea Journal. Passionate about diver education and safety, Richardson has published more than 500 articles and papers for the Journal and other organization’s publications including the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS), South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society (SPUMS), Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC), World RSTC, Divers Alert Network (DAN) and the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA). As President of Current Publishing, he helped develop a marine sciences curriculum for national use in high schools. Richardson has also spoken at hundreds of conferences internationally on diving and other marine topics.

Antartica 2008 October DRClose to Richardson’s heart is the critical need for aquatic protection and preservation. In 1989, he helped found and create the Project AWARE Foundation, a 501c (3) non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the aquatic world and supporting ecosystems. Richardson’s hope is to unite the millions of voices of the global diver family and stand together against the destructive practices threatening our ocean and waterways.

“There’s no group better positioned to defend our ocean than divers,” says Richardson. “We free marine animals from nets and lines. We petition and influence government and corporations to protect and preserve the seas. We clean up debris, assist with research and choose only sustainable seafood. We help and we defend, because we can . . . and because we care.”

The Diver of the Year ceremony will be held at the 2016 Beneath the Sea Show, America’s largest consumer scuba and dive travel show, 1-3 April 2016 at the Meadowland Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. The show provides attendees with opportunities to connect face-to-face with a variety of industry stakeholders, including dive centers, dive professionals, equipment manufacturers, ocean experts, and new and veteran divers. Visit beneaththesea.org for details.