Thursday, April 9, 2009

A trip to the Divers Alert Network

We were in North Carolina this past weekend, a trip that my wife Jill and I have done for the past three years as our "vacation" as we celebrate our anniversary after we take fellow divers on a trip to the Cooper River. This trip, my wife suggested that on the way home we stop by the offices of the Divers Alert Network and visit our friend, Eric Douglas and see one of the "mecca's" of the diving world. She set it up and WOW was it a great experience.

Eric met us at the front door for our tour and we were greeted at the door by a sign that said "Today we welcome Rich and Jill Synowiec" which I thought was pretty cool. Eric showed us a fish tank in the lobby that he said was "the coolest part of the tour" and then said that he didn't know how long the tour would be since it was an office building afterall. Since Eric is the training director of DAN it isn't surprising that he started with the training department... we met Scott, who we found out had an office full of stuffed animals (the cuddly type)AND surprisingly with all the toys in his office we found he was actually allergic to kids (he gets hives :)) Eric's office looked exactly what I would have expected a creative geniuses office to look like... shelves of books and boxes of his own books on the floor... the Mike Scott novels are a great read... especially for divers. Check them out at We also got to meet Fay. Every DAN instructor gets emails from Fay saying "your roster is processed" and it was good to put a face with a name. We also got to visit the call center.. the place where all the emergency calls come in and we got to visit with some of the cool staff of the medical department... they had some of their papers on a bulletin board in the hall. They are super smart :)

The tour took us around the first floor, to the second where we met...well no one.. the second floor was deserted... all in a meeting and not available. We did get to see the latest issue of Alert Diver up on the wall... they post a rough draft for everyone to check out before it goes to final print. They had some issues of the older copies.. not sure how they picked them but they were still cool. We saw a lot of other people.. too many to remember.. and I am looking forward to knowing them better on another trip.

The top floor of DAN.. where the executives, senior staff and the accountants are.. the important top of the ivory tower. We got to spend some time sitting in the office of Jeff Meyers, the COO of DAN talking about his time in Eric's position. I met Jeff in the Bahamas aboard a Blackbeard's cruise nearly 18 years ago when he was with PADI. Now his corner office is a pretty cool and comfortable place. I was glad we got to see him.

Then on to the other corner office. Jill and I met the person who does all the work, Dan Orr's personal assistant, and then the corner office... the top of the tower... and Dan Orr, the CEO of Divers Alert Network was in. He showed us some cool photos he took at the Guadalupe islands... he had a huge amount of awards including the Reaching out.. and I think I saw the NOGI.. He showed us some of the old Alert Divers... including an original first edition (I want one of those) from the early 80's... and we distracted him while Eric raided the candy jar. All kidding aside, Dan is a great story teller and it was fun to hear the enthusiasm of his stories of the Sharks at Guadalupe. Jill and I so want to go there.

Back downstairs and then back on the road back to Michigan. Glad we got to spend a couple of hours with Eric and the DAN team. I would like to come back again soon. For Eric, he began joking about it being an office building since it was his work and he also talked about how he wasn't sure how it could be a long tour.. but he beat out Dan Orr's normal 45 minute tour by nearly double. Good job, warm welcome and a great time... one I will not soon forget. Big thanks to everyone at DAN for making us feel comfortable... and Eric,Scott, Fay and the rest of the training department for all their help and support. Jill and I look forward to next time.

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