The Largest Scuba Diver Training Organisation (PADI) Changes Hands Again!
Providence Equity, who have owned PADI, the world’s largest scuba-certifying agency, since 2015, have sold for $700,000 according to The Wall Street Journal on 21st March 2017. PADI selling for an estimated $700 million USD which amounts to more-than-triple the initial investment over those few years.
It is understood that PADI sold to consortium, which purchased the agency via a holding company called Mandarinfish Holding. The Wall Street Journal reported that the interested buyers were drawn by PADI’s efforts to promote marine conservation, a point one could argue that PADI does not do enough of, but that’s another story all together.
What Does The Dive Community Think About This?
There has been quite a swarm of comments circulating about PADI, not only in these past weeks since the announcement but for some time now. Love them or hate them, PADI are and have been for many years now, the clear market leaders in Scuba diver training. They are fronted many major industry changes and boasting the slogan " The Way The World Learns To Dive" isn't actually too far for factual true as you can see in the scuba diver training statistic below.
Many divers in the community are using this period to voice yet more concerns over the member fees PADI charges it professional legions, be it to say, PADI would be nothing without them yet these seem to be the loudest voice of concern since the new owners will no doubt be seeking an even better ROI and, yes you guessed it, its the professional members that largely see the price increases.
Scuba Diver Training Agency Statistics
Worldwide Certifications in 2014, Dive Buddy.com
I can see why others need to talk down PADI.
1. PADI: 55.6% (54.9% USA, 60.6% Outside USA)
2. SSI: 10.6% (11.4% USA, 6% Outside USA)
3. NAUI: 10.4% (11.1% USA, 6.2 Outside USA)
4. SDI: 4.5%
5. TDI: 3.0%
6. DAN: 2.4%
7. IANTD: 1.5%
8. Red Cross: 1.2%
9. CMAS/WUF: 0.9%
10. YMCA: 0.7%
11. NASE: 0.7%
12. NSS/CDS: 0.5%
13. NASDS: 0.5%
14. IDEA: 0.5%
15. Other: 6.9%
Diver Safety Concerns
Some divers have expressed concerned about the safety procedures of PADI going forward. I believe as a PADI instructor that these divers have no need for a change in concern. I was trained and certified initially through the PADI system. I learnt all about their standards and passed the exams. If I make a mistake, break a rule or abuse my position as an scuba diving educator, is that my fault? OR Is it PADI's fault? Or is it an issue with the standards? All training agencies rely on their members being diligent and honest with their students. If you as a dive operator or instructor decide to cut corners, then this is on you. Ive said it before and ill say it again, it not the agency that makes a great dive course, its the instructor they knowledge experience and of course character!
How PADI Could REALLY Become The Biggest and The Best Diver Agency?!
I'm under no illusions why people like to bash PADI as dive professionals. But as for training, this agency has its business nailed down and will always be here and recognized. Knocking it safety standards isn't the point?! You cant, they arnt set by PADI, The WRSTC
standardized diver training level standards years ago and all agency follow these guidelines, the only difference in Agency on a business level is how the training material and session are structured and presented and each and every individual instructor following them.
I do however feel like the holiday diver training to independent open water level in 3days could be approached differently and perhap alleviate some peoples concerns. I feel that most of the hatred towards dive agency's comes in attacking the skill level of their divers. Nearly all training agencies train in 3 days now to full independent level. This is fine for some people not not all by a far, but least we forget there is also another (none compulsory) level before open water diver.. the scuba diver level in the PADI system. I believe this level should be made compulsory in that it allows a new diver to only dive to 12m deep and under direct supervision of a dive pro.
Do this for 10 dives for example and then apply for and complete an open water course in 3 days would make all the world of difference to divers confidence and the overall quality of divers across the world starting out in scuba diving.
I understand and can appreciate PADI's business model and therefore what role they play in the industry but enforcing this would show that diver safety and skill quality take precedence of the fast made dollar and quick progressions and I think a small change like this could see PADI truly become not only the biggest and best diver training agency in the world, but maybe the most respected. Good luck Mandarinfish, I hope you take PADI onto greater and bigger and better things I truly do!!
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