EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to a migration in our blog hosting, we are behind in publishing some articles related to the Northwest Dive and Travel Expo. We apologize to the our readers that some of this information is a bit late in coming.
How many times have you had to rush from a post dive gathering or had to cut early out of work the day before a dive to get tanks filled before the shop closes? We have heard a common rant that goes something like, “don’t these dive shop owners have any business sense, being closed just at the time when most divers need their services?!” You don’t see golf courses, or ski resorts closed on Sundays, but some dive shops do. But enough ranting. Here is a creative, dare I say, “win-win” solution that works with the current system.
This new product, Scuba Tank Night Drop, is a night drop-off box for air tanks and could relieve your stress and eliminate rushing to get to the shop on time. It is from the The Divers Platform, The company, named for it’s first product, is actually a division of Competitive Development and Manufacturing that develops products for physical therapy, aerospace and NASCAR racing.
Divers Platform owner/developer, Harry Wood (who answers the phone as Uncle Harry), said he came up with the idea not long before the North West Dive and Travel Expo and decided to debut it the show. We choose it as Best in Show because it is a simple, “why didn’t I think of that” creative solution for problem that has been around since the first dive shops. Besides creativity, we give this product the “Best in Show” award because it holds a strong potential to cause a significant change the way divers and dive businesses interact.
The box is extremely well built and easy for customers to use. It is sold directly by The Diver’s Platform for $625. This direct sales business model is one we are seeing more from small scuba equipment manufactures. They chose this business model because it allows them to maintain quality control and keep prices reasonable. Each modular Drop Box unit has three compartments that will each hold up to a 130 cubic foot high pressure steel tank. One shop owner pointed out that it fits every tank they have seen except a 120 cu ft low pressure tank (a bit short). The process is simple, you just slide in your tank and close the one-way self locking door. The units are designed such that multiple modules can be connected together.
We interviewed two shop owners who have purchased the Drop Box and both were very happy with it. Our first thought was to check with them if any pranksters had come by and just closed the doors on an empty box. Both shops said that this has not been an issue.
Aaron Moser of Evergreen Diver Service, LLC in Everett, WA said it took a few weeks before customers caught on to the new concept but now they find tanks in the box daily. They have a tape and marker on hand for divers to leave a note with their tanks.
Bud Gray of Bubbles Below in Woodinville, WA has two modules and said his customers started using the drop boxes right away. They mounted them one day and the next day they found 4 tanks had been left. This was likely because they posted information about the Drop Box in their newsletter ahead of time. Bud said “the boxes are solid, attractive and secure,” and that the boxes instantly became a “great convenience” for customers and shop staff. The shop provides a note pad and pencil in each box for customers to use for identification and special instructions. Bud said that a few customers have ask about the security of the system. He points out that the boxes are as secure as the store and much less of a target of opportunity. He said some rental customers have even used the boxes for dropping of other gear besides tanks. He was quick to comment, though, that he discourages this, because they want to inspect rental gear when it is returned by customers.
We suspect the Scuba Tank Night Drop box would pay for itself with happy customers and staff in a short time and give it 5 stars on top of the Best in show award. Dive shops, or divers that want to encourage their local dive shops to get the Scuba Tank Night Drop, can contact Diver’s Platform at (866) 691-7816 or http://www.thediversplatform.com (The direct link is here http://www.thediversplatform.com/proddetail.php?prod=Scubanightdrop. We provide this because we found that the website was very confusing and it was hard to find this product on the site.)