The Diving Equipment and Marketing Association is in the midst of launching a mentoring program for members of the dive industry that have only been in business for a few years, according to DEMA’s executive director.

In what’s become an annual tradition now, DeeperBlue.com sat down for a brief chat with a very busy Tom Ingram during this year’s DEMA Show in Orlando.

During that conversation, Ingram told us:

“Last year we brought in a group of people that had been in the diving industry . . . for five or fewer years. We did a focus group, we found out some information from them and those same people wanted to stick around and do more. So we kept them on, and we created this emerging leaders task force and over the course of about six months every two weeks we were meeting in the evenings . . . trying to develop a strategy to hit the number one thing that they wanted, and that was a mentoring program.”

Ingram said DEMA was hoping to partner with some other organizations such as the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences to plumb their mentoring resources.

“Anybody in the diving industry that’s a DEMA member can participate in this, either as a mentor or mentee. If they’re looking to get into a different area, it’s an opportunity for them to learn from somebody else that wants to share that information.”

Ingram also this past week presided over the award of the brand-new Diving Community Champions to ScubaRadio, Save Our Leatherbacks Operation and Deep Sea Valkyries.

“What our goal was to try to publicize how recreational diving is changing communities and give that information to the general public, this is what diving really does, we’re not just confined to our little niche, we actually do things that are affecting our communities and certainly ScubaRadio does and Save the Leatherbacks does that and the Valkyrie does that as well. They’re all having an impact, some are bigger impacts than others, but based on the sizes of these organizations they’re all in, they’e . . . using their resources to try to reach out and do some great things for their communities and so we wanted to recognize that and we’ll continue to do that every year, it’s kinda fun.”

As for the DEMA Show itself, attendance and exhibit space sales are up, even from last year in Las Vegas, according to Ingram.

One topic on the mind of a lot of attendees at this year’s DEMA Show is next year’s scheduled return to New Orleans. Ingram said:

“We started preparations for that about three years ago, and we’ve been working at it ever since. Everything is on track. . . . Exhibitors are choosing space now, and space selection is going really well, and we see a lot of excitement about everyone wanting to go back to New Orleans . . . of course the city has changed because of all the storms and other stuff in the past but they’re ready and waiting for us.

“Several of the Marriott hotels will be part of our block and they’re all getting things ready to go, and the convention center, we’ve had several site visits now, so we’re still scoping out all the stuff [but] everything is underway and we’re fully anticipating that it will be a very well-attended show, just because people haven’t been there for a long time. So it’ll be exciting to be back in New Orleans. Last time I was in New Orleans I was working for ScubaPro.”

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