I retired from General Motors in August of 1992 after 30 years of service. I was a pipefitter by trade and in my last 10 years, I was a maintenance supervisor. I learned to cave dive in October of 1987 and Steve Gerrard was my instructor. I fell in love with the caves, so after finding a buddy in Indiana, we came to Florida once a month, for about 5 years cave diving. In 1989 we purchased the lot where my store is now and the mobile home was set in September of 1992.
My goal was to take people on tours of the beautiful caves here in Florida. So I became a PADI instructor and trained my 25 open water students so I could meet the qualifications of the NACD to become a cave instructor. In the spring of 1993 I became a cave instructor for the NACD by Tom Mount. The NSS-CDS and IANTD soon followed and my teaching career blossomed. Then in January of 1994, Aryn Carr, the owner of Spring Systems shut down his business. That left me with a problem of having to drive to Branford twice a day for air. So I decided to compress air for me and my students. I had a Bauer Capitano that was used in the great lakes for diving so I hooked it up and started filling tanks. It wasn’t long before people were asking if they could get their air here, so in a way Cave Excursions was born. In about April of that year I got my sales tax certificate and started my little business. Every thing seemed to be smooth, but if I wasn’t here you had to fill your own tanks and I had an honor box by the compressor to put your money in. This system seemed to work for about 5 years. My teaching grew and my business was growing and something had to give, so in 1999 I hired my first employee to service my customers.
During the early years several things were happening which changed some of my ideas and opinions. First the goal of my business was to treat you, my customer, the way I had expected to be treated when we came to Florida to cave dive. Second was to be fair to my customers. One of the first things that happened was I was needing to fill my tanks every day and my air compressor was behind my house, so I purchased a 30 foot hose from Dive Rite so I didn’t have to carry my tanks to the water. It was perfect for me, but then I noticed the customers were parking close to my van and using my long hose to fill their tanks. Even some would wait in line to use the long hose and the idea of the long hoses was born from that. Now I’m sure people come here now for the convenience of filling their tanks with the long hoses.
Also as the popularity of Nitrox was growing I was mixing by partial pressure, 15 to 25 sets of doubles a night for my customers. This meant that I was up till 2 and 3 am in the mornings and then got up to teach my classes. In those days you would get your nitrox for the first dive and top off with air for the second dive, then I would drain you doubles that night, and mix nitrox, and the process started over again. So during those long hours I was thinking that “If I could mix, bank, and dispense nitrox as easily as air I would have something” Also a major thing was how to sell it fairly to my customers. Any one who has mixed nitrox knows it is a vary labor intensive operation, and in a lot of meetings I was involved with at General Motors on production issues, the saying was we have to get labor out of the product to make money. So with those thoughts in my mind I was planning how I could build my future business.