Editorial – April 2022

cropped-gene-roatan-1.jpgAre You Ready to Engage?
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Welcome to the April 2022 Editorial of The Dive Industry Professional.  As an Industry Planner I am frequently asked to help companies organize their thoughts into a well laid-out, step-by-step, strategic plan, that can be used to guide their company from conception to completion, whether they are dealing with programs, products, or an organizational direction.  I love a good challenge, but I only accept an invitation if I can deal with the task in a holistic manner.  For me, no detail or component is too small to address, if it is considered as a part of the big picture.   Like a puzzle, all the pieces have a place in the sum total, and usually every piece is somehow interrelated to the other pieces.  When dealing with an organizational challenge, I first like to look at the current situation and then ask where the company would like to go from there before we start suggesting potential solutions to the situation. Once we have our priorities straight, the next step is to design a plan of action that includes the tasks we will work on to achieve our planned outcomes.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Once you have your Action Plan, you have to start working on it.  You have to engage.  Today.  Now.

Two days ago I worked on a Hall of Fame project with a group of dive industry philanthropists.   We started by stating our purpose for the project.  Why were we doing this and what were we trying to accomplish?  Once we knew why, we were able to clearly see the type of organizational structure that was needed.  The rest were details, and section by section, it all fell into place.  The vision became clear.  The roadmap is being written now and is a work in process.  We would not have gotten this far had we not engaged.

That brings us to the situation at hand.  You are reading an editorial from the Dive Industry Association’s monthly marketing communique, The Dive Industry Professional.  Except, it is not in a newsletter format anymore but has evolved into a magazine format.  That took a combination of decisions made, advanced planning, and engagement.  At the Dive Industry Association, our Vision is to “Build a Better Industry, One Member at a Time.”  Our Mission is to bring buyers and sellers together, to facilitate business success and industry growth.  Our Focus is to concentrate on the sales of diving equipment, training, travel, and lifestyle products.  Our Purpose is to build a cohesive and functional Global Diving Business Network.

With a 21-year history of successfully building and operating a member-centric organization, Dive Industry Association is on track to become the diving industry’s Premier Marketing and Trade Association.  We focus only on marketing and trade programs, products and services.  We work for our Members so they can become more professional, productive, and profitable.  Our past accomplishments and future projects are spelled out, in writing, in our Members Guide, available to DIA members and non-members alike.

Staying engaged in the Global Diving Business Network has allowed us to actively bring our industry trade programs, products, and services to life, for the benefit of all Dive Industry Professionals Worldwide.  Our Weekly Dive News has been reaching Dive Industry Professionals, across the global for over four years.  Our third Trade Directory and Industry Publication brings the Worldwide Diving Community an Industry Trade Directory, Buyers Guide, and Shows and Events Calendar.  As of this month, our Monthly Trade Magazine, The Dive Industry Professional, is available to the entire international Diving Community, on a monthly basis, as the organ for diving news worldwide.

Being engaged means you are an active participant in the direction of your business.   When a company is large and many people are involved in various aspects of a program, at least one person needs to be actively engaged from conception to completion.  This way, nothing falls through the cracks during handoff from one section to another, or from one person to another.  In a perfect world, a company should always be in a state of forward progression.  To ensure that you are continually moving in a forward direction, adopt these easy-to-follow concepts.  1) Conduct an Audit.  It should be a complete Business Audit, but if you are not up to the task, start with a department audit.  A Marketing Audit is a good one to start with.  2) Sit down with your senior staff and define where you want your company to be in one year, two years, or three years from now.  Commit to it in writing and call it “Desired Outcomes.”   3) Brainstorm ideas on things you have to do to achieve each planned outcome.  Prioritize each possible solution as to their likely merit.  4) Create a campaign to try your best possible solution for each desired outcome.  5) Create a “Playbook” that tracts each campaign and monitors your progress.  This way you know where you are, know where you want to be, know what you are doing about it, and you can see if it’s working.  The big thing is to keep your eyes on your progress and you will surely see the need to adjust your inputs as you see successes or setbacks.

The only thing I advise against is the desire to look for quick-fixes.  Don’t look for a silver bullet.  They do not exist.  There are no short-term fixes to long-term problems.  In today’s post pandemic economy we are in the process of reinventing many business procedures, business models, and paradigms.  There is no such thing as doing things the way we used to and leaving the process in automatic mode.  We now have to do things in a new way and monitor the progress as we go.

For more information, contact Gene Muchanski, Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc., at gene@diveindustry.net

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Editorial – March 2022

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Where Are You Today?
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Welcome to the March 2022 Editorial of The Dive Industry Professional.  This month has to be that moment in time where we dedicate ourselves to the business of what we do. With so much chaos in the world, it’s time we find our place in the world and move forward doing what we do best. We are all in the business of diving here, even though we may not all be specializing in the same thing. As part of the International Diving Business Community, we are participating as dive equipment manufacturers, dive equipment sales reps, retail store owners and operators, dive boat operators, scuba diving instructors, dive resort operators, dive travel specialists, etc, etc, etc. With an unlimited opportunity to specialize in what makes us happy, and employed, it’s up to us to choose what we do with our 24 hours each day.

I am currently working with a company that is looking to improve their marketing efforts. When asked if I had any ideas on how to improve their marketing, I took a step back and asked if they could tell me a little about themselves first. Where were they currently in their marketing efforts? Did they have a current Business Plan? Marketing Plan? 2022 Marketing Budget? Did they already have a written agenda for this year and were they making sufficient progress in that plan? I didn’t want to just jump in with my “Gene Saves The World” book and reinvent the wheel for them. Especially if they already had a good plan and were working on it now.

I also wanted to know more about where they were financially. You see, sales and marketing go hand-in-hand. I wonder about the programs, products and services a company sells and how well they do. After all, what you sell is the reason you are in business. You can tell a lot about a company by looking at their sales; in units, in dollars, and cost of units sold. It’s a Product Managers responsibility to keep track of the company’s most profitable products and continually come up with new ones.

The next thing I asked was about their customers. How many customers did they have? Has the number of customers increased or decreased over the past few years? Not all customers are good customers. Some cost more to service than they bring into the company. How much deadwood does this company have and who are their better customers? A good Customer Manager specializes in customer relationships and works with current, former and future customers. It’s their job to acquire, retain, and recapture a sufficient pool of profitable customers for the company.

With good product management and good customer management, in a well-oiled operation, putting a strategy together to improve a company just got a lot easier. Knowing where you currently are is the first step. Now all you have to do is tell me where you want to go from here and we can put a plan together to get you there.

A Marketing Audit is a good thing for every company to do. It’s a Deep Dive in product management, customer management and marketing communication. I have always looked at business in a very simplistic way. To stay in business, you have to sell a sufficient number of profitable products, to a sufficient number of profitable customers, by communicating what you sell to the people who need, want, and can afford to buy what you sell. But don’t make the mistake of looking at a marketing audit as an isolated project. Marketing is only one piece of the puzzle, and it is interconnected to everything the company does. Think of marketing as the flow of goods and services, from conception to consumption. If your marketing department is healthy but your company is rotten, you won’t have the support you need to continue. That’s why a good marketing audit includes information about the operational, financial, and human resource aspects of a company. A healthy tree produces healthy fruit.

Start your new dive season off on the right foot. Conduct a Marketing Audit to see where you are. Plan a strategy meeting with your Management Team to discuss where you want to go this year. Agree on a plan of action. Commit your Action Plan to writing and get to work. I am more confident that you will have a better year now.

For more information on conducting a Marketing Audit, contact Gene Muchanski, Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc., at gene@diveindustry.net

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Linda Lugone Remembered

Linda Braymanby Bob Brayman

It is with a heavy heart I announce that after a long battle with cancer Linda Lugone (formally known as Linda Brayman) passed away on February 25th, 2022 at 1:00 in the afternoon.

Services for Linda will be conducted on Friday March 4th at Seawinds Funeral Home at 735 S. Fleming Street, Sebastian, FL 32958.  Seawinds’ phone is 772-589-1933 for details.

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Chapter 1 – What Is Your Purpose In Business?

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STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS
CHAPTER 1 – What is Your Purpose in Business
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional
February 9, 2022

The first thing you have to ask yourself before taking the plunge into Entrepreneurship is “What is your reason for wanting to go into business for yourself?  When you have a good-enough reason, you’ll find and define your purpose.  Your purpose in business should be to accomplish something meaningful.  Your end goal.  It could be short term like, make a touchdown. It could be long term, like win the game.  It could even be longer as in win the season.  In scuba diving terms, a good reason to go into business is to teach your family, friends and community how to scuba dive, so they can enjoy a healthy recreation.  It could also be to build a business that employs local divers and services the dive equipment, training, travel and lifestyle needs of the local diving community.  It is a highly respected goal to build a successful business that offers you a rich and rewarding lifestyle that you and your family can enjoy.  And what successful business parent doesn’t dream about passing on their successful business to their children when the time comes?  So if your reason for going into business is strong, and your immediate family agrees with it, then it’s time to continue the process.

Understanding your reason for wanting to go into the watersports business can alter your professional career path tremendously.  If you really love diving, but not the business of diving, you should not be thinking about opening a dive store.  There are plenty of happy accountants and engineers who make a very nice living and can afford to do some of the finest diving in world.  It’s not all about the job or the money, rather it’s about the correct balance of your vocation and avocation.

So, before you take the time and energy to research how to open, operate and succeed in your own business, it’s best if you decide now, if that is what you really want to do.  Think about what you would enjoy doing eight hours every day, five days a week, for fifty weeks a year? Now think about how you would like to spend your weekends, holidays and vacation time enjoying the recreation of your choice?  Either way, you have to enjoy the process and be true to your life’s purpose.

In the beginning of every Business Plan is the Executive Summary.  The very first section in the Executive Summary is The Company Mission.  The Company Mission is expressed in a statement that explains what you are going into business for, what you plan to achieve, and how you are going to achieve it.  It’s what you are telling the world your purpose is, because pursuing your purpose has now become your mission.

A Mission Statement should always be written down so the world will know what your purpose is.  That will help them relate to and understand why you are doing the things you do to complete your mission.  If you are going to have investors, sponsors, employees, or members, you must be truthful with them and transparent in your communications.  When people give you money because they believe in your purpose, make sure that every penny you spend is for the successful completion of objectives, that create outcomes, that help you accomplish your mission.  Being truthful to your purpose is all about personal integrity.

Your purpose in life is your reason for being.  Fulfilling your purpose in business may be more than you just answering your vocational calling.  It may also be your purpose in life.  Think about that while you are investing your time, money, and manpower into this new venture.

For more information on your purpose in life and business, as it relates to a Dive Industry Professional, read my WordPress blog article Your Purpose in Life & In Business, on September 12, 2021 at  https://diveindustrynews.net/2021/09/12/your-purpose-in-life-in-business/

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Editorial – February 2022

cropped-gene-roatan-1.jpgFebruary Is Matchmaking Month
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Welcome to the February 2022 Editorial of The Dive Industry Professional.  The new recreational scuba diving season is underway, albeit slow, but is has begun for many Dive Industry Professionals.  Our Association closed out last month at a record + 30% increase in revenue.  I have heard a few other such reports.  Industry Professionals are selling diving equipment, training and travel this year and there is no magic to it.  In fact, I think it’s quite simple.  Sell something the market wants.  Find a customer that needs, wants and can afford your product.   Know how to reach potential customers.  It doesn’t get more basic than that.

The diving industry is loaded with opportunity this year.  To take advantage of these opportunities you only have to focus on three things.  Products – Customers – Marketing.  Let’s get into a little more detail by going down each rabbit hole just a little bit.

Products:  The diving industry primarily sells diving equipment, training programs, and travel services.  Rather than try to sell these categories separately, plan to integrate all three into your sales strategy.  Put a program together that helps all of your customers outfit themselves for the type of diving they like to do.  Make sure they have adequate training in their chosen interests.  Give them ample opportunity to use their training and their equipment that they purchase from you.  And lastly, make them lifetime customers and keep them actively involved in our recreation.

Customers:  There are good customers and there are better customers.  Look for the better customers by getting referrals from your current better customers.  Your new customers, demographically,  should be just like them.   A good customer for you might be a person who wants to scuba dive actively.  They take their training, buy their equipment, go on trips and become an active diver.   And it goes without saying, that they do this all with you.  We’ll call this type of person, your best prospect.  It doesn’t mean you can’t sell to other types of customers, but your primary focus should be on this type of customer.

Marketing:  Marketing is communicating what you sell. It’s all about matching  products to  customers.  We call this “Retail Matchmaking.”   It’s a good idea to have different messages for your current customers, former customers and future customers.

Retail Dive Store Managers like to do annual audits on their operation.  They basically make sure they are offering the correct programs, products and services to their customers.  They make sure they are keeping track of their customers and contacting them sufficiently.  They also look at their marketing efficiency, effectiveness and costs.  That covers your demand chain audit.  At the same time, it’s a good idea to do a little audit into your supply chain as well.  Are you using the proper vendors to supply your diving equipment, training and travel products?  A little Matchmaking here goes a long way.

We talked about matching products to customers and marketing vehicles to customers.  We call this Demand Chain Matchmaking, and it’s a very important thing for dive stores to do.  We also talked about Supply Chain Matchmaking, where dive stores look at their suppliers of goods and services.  Now let’s talk about another type of matchmaking.

It all starts with bringing Buyers & Sellers together.  Dive Industry Matchmaking is about matching vendors (Sellers) with their retail accounts (Buyers).  This is an issue that is taking on a more important priority this year.   The past two years have seen a lot of consolidation with dive equipment manufacturers.  In the same time period, the dive travel industry has lost a number of dive resorts and dive operators.  To make matters worse, the industry has lost over 300 dive stores in the United States alone.  Our total market in the U.S. is about 1,300 dive stores.  It has gotten increasingly difficult for potential buyers to find available suppliers.  Their questions are:  What’s available?   Where are they located?   Who do we call?  You think someone would make it easy for them?

The Dive Industry Association has increased in importance and membership by developing programs and projects the industry needs to market itself to the international diving community and the general public.  #1  We have maintained our database of buyers and sellers of diving equipment, training, travel and lifestyle products.  And we contact them on a regular basis.  #2 We publish a Trade Directory and Buyers Guide to bring Buyers and Sellers together.  Our Mission is to make it easier for buyers to locate a source for their purchases, either in the trade or consumer market.  Our Association identifies sources of goods and services, establishes relationships with the dive industry professionals in charge and are quick to promote and refer diving equipment, training, travel and lifestyle products to trade customers and final consumers. That’s the primary job of a Trade Association and the Dive Industry Association takes that responsibility very seriously.

Would your business benefit from Membership in a Trade Association that produces an informative Blog, a FREE Weekly Press Release Service, a Monthly Newsletter, and an International Trade Directory & Buyers Guide?  How about if that organization maintained an International Trade and Consumer database that helped you find new customers?  If they referred your products to buyers who are looking for what you sell?  What if that organization has a 20 year history of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars exhibiting at trade and consumers shows to promote you?

Then this might be the year that you join the Dive Industry Association and become a part of our Global Diving Business Network.  Request a Membership Application today by contacting:

Dive Industry Association, Inc.
2294 Botanica Circle
West Melbourne, FL 32904
email: gene@diveindustry.net
web: www.diveindustry.net

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Starting Your Own Business

DSC_0457Starting Your Own Business
By Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
January 17, 2022

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to own your own business?  Maybe in a recreational scuba diving adventure business?  Well, it’s OK to wonder.  That doesn’t cost you anything.  It’s even perfectly acceptable to dream about it.  Imagine, you are the star of this fantasy.  Teaching people how to scuba dive and getting them all geared up for their very first openwater adventure.  Speaking of adventure, imagine flying from Island to Island, diving exotic destinations, one right after the other.  You could explore the coral reefs of the turquoise waters, lay on white sand beaches underneath the palm trees, while you sip pina coladas with your favorite diving adventure companion.  OK.  Pause.  Back to reality.  Can this really happen?  Well, yes it can, but there is a little work and preparation you need to do before you get to that point.  I was kidding by using the word little.  The good news is that there are a number of Dive Industry Professionals who can help you get to that point.  Maybe those of us who have done something like this before and are familiar with some of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that a journey such as this has in store for you.  My name is Gene, and I will be your Guide and Mentor for what may turn out to be the adventure of your life.

First of all, before we begin our journey together, let me tell you there are already people scuba diving on the coral reefs of exotic destinations, hunting for food, laying under the palm trees on beautiful white sand beaches, and even living in houses right on the shore.  They are called LOCALS, and have been doing this for quite some time.  Hopefully you will get the opportunity to meet some of them as you travel along your chosen career path (in or out of the recreational water sports industry).  The purpose of this series of articles is to explore the possibility of having a career or a professional diving business in the Global Diving Business Network.  It’s to point out the pluses and minuses of choosing to invest your time, money, and manpower in this industry.  The choice is always yours to make, but as many successful entrepreneurs have said in the past, “It’s better to know, before you go.”

Let’s take this journey together.  This series of articles will be a little different than some of the self help books you may have read or are familiar with.  The Author (me) is going to take this journey with you.  As we look into the advantages and disadvantages of opening our own business in the diving industry, I will be doing the research with you, in real time.  Does that mean I am going to open my own business when we’ve finished?  I don’t know yet.  We don’t have enough facts to make that decision.

DSC_0001Building a business is like building a pool.  I will give you a little insight into my methodology.  Nine years ago, we had a pool built for our home.  Not knowing how to build a pool ourselves, we hired a professional pool builder, Paradise Pools, www.paradisepoolsconstruction.com   The Construction Boss, Terry Betten, sat down with us and asked us a ton of questions about what we wanted in a pool.  As we discussed the many options involved, Terry made copious notes and started to sketch out a drawing of what our pool would look like.  By the end of a few meetings, Terry presented us with a sketch of our new pool.  He made his comments and suggestions, and we added our comments and made our adjustments.   We discussed features, benefits, measurements, capacities, building materials, labor schedules, building permits, prices, and timelines.  Terry returned with a final draft and said:  “This is what your pool will look like.  It will cost $60,000 and be finished in about 52 days plus city inspection and approval time.”  We liked what we saw. It was a GO.

The pool construction process was a learning experience for us.  This was our first pool.  Not so with Terry and Paradise Pools.  This was not their first rodeo.  They had built many before, over two thousand.  Terry had a plan in front of him.  He saw in his mind’s eye what the pool would look like in 52 days.  He had done this before and knew what the outcome would look like.  I photographed and video taped the construction process every day and published daily updates on my Facebook page.  My Facebook friends and I saw this project come together right in front of our eyes.  It was an amazing process.  I learned a lot.  About building pools and about business planning.

Starting a business is pretty much the same process, although there are no guarantees as to the exact outcome from your pre-business research.  Having an understanding of what it takes to start a business, coupled with hands-on experience from people who have succeeded or failed at business ownership before is a big plus.  The more you know, the greater the chance that you will succeed.

In this series of articles, we can explore the questions you may have about starting your own business.  We’ll look at your own personal reasons for wanting to go into business, the products that are sold in the diving industry, the customers that make up our recreation, the size and make-up of the current market, the current supply chain, the various channels of distribution, and the marketing vehicles that deliver our marketing and advertising messages to divers and would-be divers, worldwide.  Since we will be going through this process with you, we can share real-time data on contacts that you should know to help you make the decisions you’ll need to make along the way.

We won’t be giving any financial or legal advice but instead, will attempt to refer you to the proper sources that could answer your questions.  Questions that we also may have along the way.  So, if you have always wonder about starting your own business in the recreational scuba diving industry, come take this journey with us.

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Editorial – January 2022

cropped-gene-roatan-1.jpgBe A Champion For Your Customers
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Welcome to the January 2022 Editorial of The Dive Industry Professional.  After two sucky years in the recreational diving industry, I am no longer optimistic about the world economy or the world political outlook.  I have become a realist.  Things are what they are.  The year 2022 will be what it turns out to be.  And even though I have never really felt this way before, I am not alone in my thinking.  I’ve listened to friends and family, collogues and peers, local and national media, and gosip I’ve heard on the internet.  It seems that most people, in general, are not making New Year’s resolutions this year.  Instead, they are playing the cards they are delt and living each day to the best of their ability.  Because of the uncertainty in the economy and world situation, that seems like a very normal thing to do this year.  I’m willing to give it a try.

Today is only the third day of the year, and the first day back to work.  Many of my industry peers are off for another two days.  Those are the ones getting a paycheck from their employers.  We self employed people are working today, like we did over the weekend.  Like we do every weekend.  That made me think this morning as I sat down in front of my computer.  Dive Industry Professionals who have their own companies are choosing to put in the extra time because we have Members, Dealers and Customers who are counting on us.  I guess you can say that we are their self appointed Champions.  We watch their backs.  We go to bat for them.  We work to produce outcomes that benefit them.  We go into the office early and stay late so they could be more successful in their jobs, helping their customers.  We are their Champions so they could be Champions to their customers.  Now it makes sense to me. We are the Champions of the Champions.

We are going to need a lot of Champions this year.  I’m not smart enough, rich enough, strong enough or brave enough to try to do everything myself and still hope to get everything done 100% right.  I don’t have unlimited time, money and manpower to be a one-man band or a one-trick pony.  I need workers, partners, collaborators and task-specific experts to help me get my work done.  I need, we all need, collaborative talented input to achieve maximum professional outcomes.  Our customers require no less than that from their Industry Supply Chain and Demand Chain Champions.

There is one little difference in how I am looking at the need for collaboration this year.  In past years, I have been more or less of a cheerleader trying to rally the diving industry to work together for the good of the industry.  My montra was that we could all accomplish so much more if we all worked together.  This year is different.  Working together is still very important to our success, but we need to work together because more is at steak.  Yes, there has been more opportunity created because of pent-up demand and two years of decline in market activity, but seizing that opportunity is like searching for gold in a minefield.  It’s going to take more planning and better execution.  This year we will need to work together with strategic partners who have specific task skills we need to complete our mission.  We need to work with someone who has as much to gain or lose as we do.  That’s what makes a 2022 partnership what it needs to be.

There will be plenty of opportunity to work with your strategic partners in the supply of demand chains.  Equipment Manufacturers, Retailers and Sales Reps will have to coordinate their merchandise orders more efficiently and promptly.  Training Agencies will need to relook at their annual dues policy in relationship to their certification sales history.  They may have to increase their customer service efforts to support their current customer base. Travel companies  need to establish and use a better channel of distribution, rather than make futile attempts at achieving vertical integration.  There is just not enough time, money, or manpower to be successful using this business model.  Governments, Tourism Bureaus and Resort Destinations need to coordinate efforts to open their Countries / Islands to the tourism market and make visiting their destinations relatively seamless.  Resort Destinations and Dive Operators needs to work with Dive Travel Wholesalers and Industry Association to attract high volume, travel buyers to their destinations.  Dive Travel Wholesalers and Industry Associations need to be more active in working with Dive Travel Specialists at the retail level to sell dive travel.  Retail Dive Travel specialists need to communicate with their customers more frequently, efficiently, and professionally about the joys of dive travel and why group travel with you can be a very positive social experience.

There is much more work to do with Service Providers, Non-Profit Organizations, Dive Boat Operators, Dive Clubs and Dive Industry Professionals at the Instructor level.  This pandemic has affected us all and we are all in need of adjusting the way we do business with the consuming diver public.

If you were planning to hit the ground running this year, you are already three days late.  Now is a good time to start planning your 2022 calendar.

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Kenneth J. Hoser – Adaptive Diving Association

Kenneth J. Hoser, Adaptive Diving Association
By Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
December 20, 2021

Kenneth J. Hoser, Executive Director & Founder of Adaptive Diving Association passed away at his home on December 8, 2021, after a long battle with cancer.  His Service is scheduled for Saturday, January 22, 2022 at 2:00 pm at New Hanover United Methodist Church, 211 Swamp Pike, Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania.    

Over the years, Kenneth worked in the adaptive diving market helping a large number of amputees, people with spinal cord injuries and others who explored the benefits of adaptive sports as a means of rehabilitation.  He worked with returning Veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and helped them participate in his Adaptive SCUBA Diving programs.

Through the Adaptive Diving Association, Kenneth not only used adaptive SCUBA diving programs as a means of therapy, he also designed specialized adaptive SCUBA equipment to make it safer for those with physical challenges to participate in the zero-gravity environment.  While training adaptive divers and designing equipment to meet their needs is truly a remarkable accomplishment, Kenneth took it one step further and conducted dive trips to Dive Resort Destinations where properly trained and equipped participants got to experience, firsthand, the joys of diving the warm waters of the Caribbean.

The world has truly lost an Adaptive Diving Pioneer.

Adaptive Diving Association:  Adaptive Diving Association is a 501(c)(3) Non-profit Organization that specializes in tending to the individual needs of the diver who needs adaptive training, including those who are wheel-chair-bound.  This includes specialized training, custom fabricated adaptive equipment and underwater video taping for self-evaluation.  Visit Adaptive Diving Association at www.adaptivedivingassociation.org

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Editorial – December 2021

Defining Our Own Industry Identity
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Welcome to our December Editorial. Here we are – end of month, end of quarter and end of year. I hope this editorial finds you in good health, good spirits, back to diving and still in business. I get to speak with a lot of Dive Industry Professionals in my job as the Executive Director of a very progressive and customer-focused Trade Association. It has helped our association become a trusted confidant to many of the successful dive businesses in the industry because we listen and we learn. We’ve defined who we are and what we do for our Members and the Global Diving Community. Our Mission and the work we perform to accomplish our mission is one in the same. After twenty years of bringing buyers and sellers together, we’ve influenced many dive businesses and are humbled to say that we have learned a few things along the way. How do we do that? First of all, we define who we are and what we do. Secondly, we ask our members and the industry what it is they need a marketing and trade association to do for them. Thirdly, we train and prepare for successful outcomes that directly benefit our members and the industry. Our primary research has allowed us recognize, define, and pass on to our members, the dive industry’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We use our findings to create ways (new or existing) to help our members become more professional, productive, and profitable. We are known for laying out or suggesting agendas that works for different segments of the industry, such as dive equipment, training, travel, service providers, lifestyle products, and non-profits. In a Dale Carnegie sort of way, we do this without criticizing, condemning or complaining.

Bringing buyers and sellers together means that we cannot afford to have an agenda that does not include the entire Global Diving Business Network. Your agenda is our agenda. We understand diving and we understand business. We make it our point to know the market (both buyers and sellers) and know the pluses and minuses of the various marketplaces. If we favor one marketplace over another at some point, it is because the particular venue is doing something right or something wrong for that market at that point in time. And trust me when I tell you that all marketplaces and venues in the diving world have gone through and may still be going through changes. Sometimes it’s on a monthly basis, sometimes on a yearly base, and sometimes over a long period of time.

One of our jobs as a Marketing and Trade Association is to follow sales, marketing and advertising opportunities in the print media, on-line community, social media, and face-to-face events. With over 40 years of history following the diving market, I gladly share my research, findings and recommendations with our Members. We are also available for direct marketing consultation. But the reason I want to share 40 years of history with you first is that our economic forecast for the future is going to be totally different then what we would have been recommending in the past ten years. ALARM ALERT !

For the past 20 years, up until 2019, the diving industry had either been flat or declining. The industry was playing by the same paradigms and business models. For the most part, things were going nowhere and most of the industry was doing the same thing with the same people and going downhill. To be honest with you though, that’s when I started to see paradigm shifts, new blood, new thinking, and new technology creep into our beloved recreation. For the most part, these new ways of doing business were popping up but mostly kept under wraps by those implementing these changes, to the delight of their owners and customers.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic halt to business as usual, the supply side shortages, the travel restrictions, the lost of business and revenue, some equipment manufacturing consolidation, and believe it not, a new trend in Dive Store consolidation. Now people were actively looking for new ways to conduct business and it was obvious who was doing something different and who was not.

We could tell that the industry sectors of diving equipment, training, travel and lifestyle products were cooperating less with each other in the industry and looking for new alliances. Some stakeholder groups were breaking away from DEMA and looking at the Surf Expos, Adventure & Travel Shows, the Outdoor Shows, Boating Shows and what was left of the Regional Dive Shows. I think what we found out was that the non-diving shows each gave us a little of what we were looking for but did not fit our overall needs. A little advanced strategic planning would have helped these stakeholders realize that the diving industry has its own unique identity and its own unique needs. There may be some cross-over benefits and similarities to the other markets, but the diving industry is not the outdoor industry or the boating industry, or the travel industry – it is the diving industry.

I believe we should all work on defining and refining our own unique industry image. It has to center around diving and focus on all of the programs, products and services bought and sold by our Global Diving Business Network. Our market is made up of sellers of diving equipment, dive training, dive travel and lifestyle products. It is also made up of the buyers of these goods, both consumer and trade.

For a market to grow and sustain, it must be big enough to exist but small enough to navigate. I think we all learned that recently at a smaller venue that brought the right mix of serious buyers together with a smaller number of vendors. We also have to bring buyers and sellers together but we need to separate consumers and trade professionals. They have different needs and our sales approach needs to be different. We need to focus on conducting a trade expo for trade buying and a trade show for consumer purchasing. We should have a seperate professional development conference for training purposes, and focus only on training.

And I’ll leave you with one last comment about a trend we are starting to see in the industry. Some of the major equipment manufacturers have broken away from a traditional annual trade event and are conducting their own sales events for their select Dealers. While this may seem to be cost effective and an answer to another problem, it is a tactics that has been tried in other industry and is having a negative consequence. In isolation, if your Dealers sell only your products, this sales technique may work well. However, if your major Dealers also carry 2-6 other major lines, how can they take 6 weeks off from their store to buy products? They can’t and they won’t. We’ve been talking to other water sports industry manufacturers and retailers and this idea is starting to lose its appeal and effectiveness. That is why the dive equipment manufacturers must once again meet collectively with each other to discuss long term solutions to this ongoing problem. As for the Retailers, they must start working together to develop more workable solutions. A strong Manufacturing group and a strong, independent, Retail group is the best thing for an industry that wants to regrow itself.

It’s all about defining your industry image, strategically plan your future, and telling the world about what you do for a living.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. See you next year on a Dive Boat in Saint Somewhere.

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Editorial – November 2021

cropped-gene-roatan-1.jpgBe There For Your Customers
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Welcome to our November Editorial.  This month we are reaching our customers with messages about our company and our products.  I hope you are doing the same.  Not because this is the best time of year for that, but because our industry agreed on this current timeline a few years ago and we all followed along with it.  Well, not everyone.  I think the top four equipment manufacturers still believe in and practice a September introduction.  And to tell you the truth, November is the worst time of the year to conduct an annual trade event.  I know we’ve been doing it for a long time and it has become a habit.  A bad habit.  We should be thinking about our families and friends and getting ready to sit down with them at the Thanksgiving Day table.  The last thing on our mind should be our businesses.  But I get it.

And another thing wrong with introducing our new lines in November is that it is too close to the December Holidays; Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, and New Years.  By this time of year, the dive stores should be stocked to the hilt with new gear for the Holiday Season.  Did you know that in some retail stores, over 25% of all annual sales happen in December?  So that is why I am a fan of starting the new season in September, right after Labor Day.  And now I’m leaning toward September and January based on what our manufacturing and travel members have been telling us for years.

Speaking of customers…you know, the people we started our businesses to serve?  They are ready and waiting for us to show them our new 2022 programs, products and services.  But where are they?  Some of them are going to be at the trade show in two weeks.  The rest are going to be home waiting for us.  Do you know who is going to be where?  The show or home?  Are you planning to visit them where they will be or are you simply doing what you did in the past and hoping for the best? I can only speak for our organization and a number of our members who have been very busy getting ready for this month.  We’ve surveyed as many dive stores as we could and have a pretty good idea who is going to be where.  We’ve corresponded with as many show attendees as possible and promoted our exhibiting members, what booth they will be at, and what they are doing for show specials.  We continually refine our databases of Dive Industry Professionals and certified Divers and we’ve used the data to help our members reach new customers and make sales.  We created a “Retail Buyer Only” publication and introduced our organization, our members, and our members’ fall specials.  And the total extra charge for all those additional member perks was zero.  Now let me tell you what that has done for us.

For the past month, we picked up new members, recaptured former members, and received early annual renewals from many of our current members.  We helped our members reach tens of thousands of Dive Industry Professionals, Domestic and International Retail Dive Stores, and everyday dive consumers.  We are helping put together a number of FAM Trips for the Dive Industry Travel Buyers and we let over 900 Dive Resorts, Liveaboards, Tourism Bureaus and Dive Travel Wholesalers know that we would like to do it for them next year.  The most important things we started lately, I can’t talk about yet, but it is going to add significantly to our Member Service offerings and hopefully increase our membership roles  exponentially.  It’s time to move on and I am confident the majority of the diving industry will move with us.

As my High School Vice Principal used to say, “Muchanski, It’s late in the Ballgame.”  And I agree with ole’ Bill Carr.  As an industry we can’t wait for non-responsive companies to do things for us.  I don’t feel that we are a priority in their agenda anyway and they certainly don’t have our best interest at heart.  I’m not the waiting kind of person and I don’t think you are either.  To be successful and grow we have to take matters into our own hands and get the job done.  Accomplish the Mission.  As the economy begins to improve, we can all do what we can to grow our own businesses, which will grow the industry as we each succeed.

So let’s agree that our customers are our top priority.   We do it all for them.  We need to pledge the use of our collective industry resources to determine their needs, fill their needs and grow our businesses and the recreational scuba diving market.

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