“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change” – Charles Darwin
A more timely perspective than Darwin’s cannot be imagined. The diving industry peaked about a decade ago and has been flat or in declining growth since. That’s a fact. The numbers of new divers entering the sport has simultaneously declined while the percentage of diver "drop-outs" has increased. This double whammy comes at a time when the overall domestic economy for outdoor sports has also seen vanishing consumers and slumping retail sales. Diving needs change. Diving needs some fresh perspectives. And it needs to arrest the downward trends immediately with proactive measures that depart from the old school mentalities. "We always did it this way" has been diving’s mantra for far too long.
I’m the new guy on the block. Some might think this is a negative to my candidacy, but I view it as a positive. This is my first year being nominated for the DEMA Board of Directors and I’ll bring more energy and ideas because of it. I have been working in the industry for over 15 years, but until now I’ve limited my involvement to developing and growing the companies I have been associated with. This allows me to have a unique view of DEMA and its goals.
Our industry is facing many new challenges. The paradigms of the past will not work in today’s national and global competitive markets. Numerous stake-holders within diving believe that we need fresh ideas and new energy. It’s no secret that the traditional diving consumer has been the Baby Boomer. They’ve been an intensely loyal and profitable core business since the 1950s, but those numbers are declining and will continue to do so as that group ages and becomes less active. As an industry, we need to do more to promote our sport to the Gen X and Y demographic. This will only happen if we understand what is important to that new demographic and take steps to grab, and hold, their interest. Industry stake-holders are surrounding themselves with younger people in management and leadership positions as the first two generations of diving leaders retire. It’s time the DEMA Board started doing the same.
I am that person. I’m 35 years old and bridge exactly the demographic that is crucial to diving’s new growth and success. I speak their language, share their lifestyle, and came of age at the same time.
When I assumed the role of President of SDI/TDI & ERDI in the winter of 2004, it was important to me to develop a team approach with the other training organizations. With this goal in mind, SDI worked hard to become a member of the RSTC and I personally have volunteered my time working on the DEMA Promotions and Membership Committees. I find it very gratifying to work with individuals of like mind and look forward to volunteering more of my time.
Although DEMA did a credible job this year by producing the “Be a Diver" campaign, it is only the beginning. DEMA needs to take the next steps to finding major partners for the industry to help better promote our sport and by encouraging every retailer to use and embrace the campaign. This will only happen if we continue to work together and compete in a professional manner. DEMA is important to all of us. We only have one trade organization that represents our combined interests… and they are diverse. Not only does DEMA have the responsibility of running our industry trade show, but it is also responsible for bringing the stake-holders together in order to find ways to promote, market and grow diving. As such, communication has to be a key component of planning and sharing ideas.
Most other organizations have a trade publication and DEMA needs to get behind a similar industry vehicle that is timely and on point. I understand and appreciate the limited resources available to DEMA but it needs to be done. I’m the President of one of the top training agencies and it’s easy to see that our primary business model is derived from publishing. I can help DEMA with my expertise and with specific ways to develop a path of communications that is both affordable and substantive.
I believe that DEMA is headed in the right direction but, if this last 2007 show is a valid indicator, we need to realize that attendance is shrinking and there is a finite window to restore the relevancy of even attending. It’s a cliché to parse the same old "let’s work together" rhetoric when the industry has been notorious historically for not doing that. It’s going to take some new blood and a willingness to embrace a lot of new ideas to get things back on track.
I’m very interested in working on the DEMA board to look to outside sources for cross-promotion of our industry. Diving is my passion and to be able to work in the industry was a life-long dream. I count myself among one of the very few who can realize making their avocation their career. I’ll share that enthusiasm and make it my personal goal to bring diving to the widest possible audience through my concentrated efforts.
With experience in just about every stakeholder group in the industry, my qualifications are diverse. If elected to the DEMA Board, I will to take the personal values of integrity, honesty and hard work that I utilize every day within my own companies and apply them in everything that I do in my position at DEMA. I’m a passionate person and strive to grow each and every day… both professionally and personally. I look forward to working to grow our sport for all of us.
Give me your vote and give me a chance to bring a younger perspective to the DEMA Board. I promise not to disappoint you.
International Training (SDI/TDI/ERDI)
- BA in Marine Affairs from University of Rhode Island (URI)
- Publisher of Diving Adventure magazine
- Operations Manager of UWATEC USA
- Diving Officer for the URI recreational scuba program
- Assistant National Underwater Accident Data Center
- Manager of various Retail Dive Centers
18 Elm St.
Topsham, ME 04086