Mares buys SSI

Scuba Schools International (SSI), one of the big three scuba certification agencies (PADI,  announced they have been acquired by diving equipment manufacturer Mares  and Mares parent sporting goods and sportswear company Head. The acquisition is effective 1 January 2014.

There is no word on how the three companies may integrate product lines or how this will eventually effect SSI’s 2500 plus dive centers around the word. But the press release signed by SSI’s owners  Doug McNeese and Robert Stoss, SSI and Gerald Skrobanek of MARES does speak about MARES products —  Swimming, Snorkeling, Freediving, Spearfishing and Scuba being “a perfect match with SSI.”

Like the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy‘s admonition “DON’T PANIC”, the press release takes special care to assure current dealers for both brands that there is no reason to worry. We have already heard from a few dive shops that are a bit anxious. The release  says ” there is no obligation for a MARES dealer to do business with SSI or an SSI dealer to do business with MARES.” Then it throws in the usual press release cliches including “many new business opportunities” and “…make this transition as seamless for you, our customers.”

The release wraps up with a few details including:

  • The entire SSI management team will remain in place and continue their daily responsibilities.
  • Both the SSI USA and SSI EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) offices will be maintained.
  • Some operational and back office functions will be merged into the HEAD/MARES organization:
  • SSI USA will remain the Service Center for the USA and Canada.

We agree with the statement that “bringing these 2 companies together represents a huge paradigm shift for the diving industry.” We expect this will slightly level the financial playing field between SSI and PADI. We look forward to learning more soon and seeing the effect of an equipment manufacturer owning a dive certification agency.