From left: Greg Ogle (GM of Southeastern Divers, Inc.), Jack Pounders (Owner of Southeastern Divers, Inc.), Jean Michel Cousteau and Dan Herema (both of U.S. Divers, now called Aqualung) at the 1986 Diving Equipment Manufacturers Association show.
Founded in 1980, Southeastern Divers, Inc. has been providing divers in Alabama with equipment and training for 38 years. Southeastern Divers, Inc. is also one of the first 100 stores to carry WETSOX, and to highlight the first 100 stores we wanted to put a spotlight on Southeaster Divers, Inc (SDI). Learn more through our conversation with Greg Ogle, General Manager for SDI below:
Tell us the story behind your shop.
Our shop is called Southeastern Divers, Inc., and it has been in business for 37 years. We’re actually celebrating our 38th year this year. Our first shop was opened in 1980 in Florence, Alabama, but we eventually closed that and now our shop in Huntsville is our only shop.
I’m the general manager. Jack Pounders is the owner, and we grew up together and have known each other for a long time. When we were growing up we started diving, among other activities. I never thought I’d make a career out of this, but Jack asked if I was interested in joining him in opening a shop, and here we are.
What makes your shop unique?
I’d say it has to be the professional image we portray. We’re not a part time business. It’s full-time. We’re open 48 hours a week. We carry inventory. A lot of dive shops don’t carry inventory. If you have to order something for a customer you can probably forget about it because of Amazon and other online retailers.
What has changed in the sport since you got into diving?
The training has changed a lot – it’s a lot friendlier, which I think makes it easier for people to get into diving. The courses aren’t nearly as long as they used to be either. Equipment has changed too. I think it’s a lot cooler with a lot more opportunity to customize.
The people that are getting into diving are older than they used to be. 20 years ago we’d see a lot more teens and people in their 20s. Now it’s a lot of people in their mid-30s. I think younger people just have some many different things pulling them in different directions so it’s harder to focus on one thing.
What piece of gear would you never dive without?
My dive computer. It measures and keeps track of all the things you need to know when you’re diving: depth, oxygen absorption, time, etc. For safety, I would ever dive without one.
If you were getting into diving today, what’s one piece of advice you’d give yourself?
Don’t skimp on equipment! Go ahead and invest in the equipment that’s going to fit right, and last. When I get into the pool with students who are using cheap equipment, yard sale stuff, they really struggle with their equipment and you can tell they aren’t enjoying it as much as they could. It’s an investment, but it’ll pay off down the line.