Tank’d Pro Dive Center is awarded the The SSI Career Center Rating
I found myself checking my emails and my SSI account almost hourly as I anxiously awaited the response from SSI Head Quarters in Germany. I knew we had met all of the requirements set out before us but still…what if? What if after all of our hard work, we had missed some small requirement? My mind assured me we hadn’t, but the waiting was agonizing.
Let’s go back to the beginning. When the dream of becoming a SSI Career Center began.
In 2020, we began our search for a dive center on the island of Utila, Honduras to purchase and build into a SSI Instructor Training Center. After looking at purchasing a few existing dive centers, we felt in order to achieve our vision, it was imperative to build from the ground up. Well, almost. Julie Shigetomi, a real estate broker at Remax Sunshine on Utila took us all around Utila looking for the perfect location. After much debate, we decided to purchase a hotel that happened to have enough property to build a dive center on. We were over the moon with excitement to begin our new endeavor. Until….two weeks later, covid took the world by storm!
“Deep breath…don’t panic…we can handle this setback.”
We decided to take advantage of the island being closed to begin constructing the two story building that would house our dive center, generator, compressors, laundry facility and restaurant. Progress went quite quickly with Ramon and Cabachuella Construction and our hearts soared. Our dream was becoming a reality. Well, almost! Why can’t anything ever just go easily! We ran into a snag. According to the Utila bylaws if we purchased a hotel, we could purchase a dive permit to teach scuba diving on the island. But when we went to apply for the permit, we were denied. What! How! Our soaring hearts sank. We researched and discovered that we could obtain a tour permit and take out divers, just not teach. Not really what we’d hoped for, but we’d take it. Temporarily that is, until we could find another way to do what we love to do. Teach scuba diving and train SSI Instructors.
Months passed and finally in March of 2021 we found someone willing to sell their Dive Permit to operate a dive center on Utila. Whoo Hoo! Overpaid for it of course, but a small sacrifice to finally reach our goal. In April 2021, Tank’d Pro Dive Center was born.
Our first priority, build a team of like minded dive professionals who share our goals, standards and desire to care for every person who walks through the door. I had previously taken SSI Extended Range Instructor courses with another Instructor Trainer on Utila, Greg Gilkey. I knew from experience that we were very like minded. We had also dove together quite a bit and let me tell you, you can find out so much about a person during a dive and a surface interval. Actually, thats where I conduct all of my interviews. On a dive together. I had no doubt that Greg and I could build an instructor training center that would be exceptional. So together, we decided to make that our motto for 2022. “TRAIN TO BE EXCEPTIONAL”.
Back to 2021…We were very familiar with the SSI Dive Center standards and knew that our first goal was to become a SSI Diamond Instructor Training Center. We focused on the goal at hand and before the end of the year, in less than 8 months, we had achieved that goal and became the first dive center in Honduras or in Central America to ever receive the Diamond Center recognition rating. We were so proud and on a high for days! But Greg and I aren’t the type to look at a goal we’ve achieved and be content. We’d reached our goal and realized it was time to set a new goal for ourselves and for the dive center. What was next? SSI Career Center!
The SSI Career Center Rating can’t be bought. It can’t be given. It has to be earned. It is an earned privilege that is granted based on the SSI Training Center’s performance. Just like the Diamond Center rating but way more difficult to achieve. To achieve this, you needed to:
- Have two (2) permanent Instructor Trainers on staff to ensure continuity of the training schedule.
- Exclusively offer SSI programs and certifications for all student and professional levels. Waivers may be requested from the responsible SSI Service Center for programs that do not have an SSI equivalent.
- Promote SSI Career Programs by offering a complete range of SSI Professional programs in sequence for the applicable Training Center category at least two (2) times per year using the SSI Event Calendar.
- Actively support job placement services for graduates of the SSI Career Program.
- Issue at least 150 certifications at any level.
- Conduct at least two (2) SSI Instructor Training Courses and/or SSI Professional Crossover programs per year.
- Certify at least twelve (12) Instructors per year.
- Certify at least six (6) Assistant Instructor Trainers per year.
- Have no QMS cases that result in a mandatory compliance action.
Hmmm. Not an easy task for a dive center that had only been open for 8 months. It’s not easy getting instructor candidates when your website is hidden somewhere in google on page 2-4 depending on your search terms. What could we do? How could we advertise? Obviously, the usual… Facebook and instagram but what else? We decided to have a booth at Dema which was wonderful for getting groups to come to Utila, but not dive professional candidates. We were struggling to come up with ideas when, it just started happening. Word of mouth. Without realizing it, we had been advertising simply by doing what we love in a professional, thorough and caring manner. The emails and messages began coming in and at that moment we had a spark of hope ignite in us. We saw that our goal could be achieved. Over the next few months, candidates came in like the waves. We’d teach a few instructor training courses and then it was quiet. Teach a few instructor training courses and then it was quiet. By mid year we had reached and exceeded our goal of teaching 12 instructor training courses but we were still short 3 assistant instructor trainers. Our hearts sank, wondering if our efforts were simply not going to be enough. Then we taught two more Assistant Instructor Trainers and our hearts skipped a beat thinking about how we only needed to teach one more to reach our goal. Could it happen? Could we do it? And then finally, we received the message from an old friend who wanted to to become a SSI Assistant Instructor Trainer. We’d done it. After being in business for 1 year and 7 months, we had reached the ultimate goal of becoming a SSI Career Center!
It’s hard to express how proud we are to have been able to achieve what very few other dive centers on the planet have achieved. At this moment, we are 1 of only 10 dive centers in the world to have achieved this milestone rating in 2022.
Looking back over the past year, one of the best parts of the whole process was not just receiving the rating. That was phenomenal! But really the best part was training the instructors. We were able to do what we set out to do and share our love for scuba diving with not only divers but with instructor candidates who could go forth and spread that love even further. We met and created lasting friendships with incredible instructors from all over the world. Honduras, France, Czech Republic, Spain, Mexico, Switzerland, and more. And there’s no way we could have done any of this without the help from the other instructors at Tank’d. Dewey and Mariam not only helped teach so many of the beginner and specialty courses, but they gave of their time to help our candidates practice their in-water teaching skills with us. We are very mindful that it takes a team to build an Exceptional Career Center and we believe we have the absolute best team right here at Tank’d!
Now that we have achieved this goal, what’s next? Where will we go from here?
For starters, we have already developed a new campaign for 2023 that we believe will be amazing. We can’t wait to share it with you. So stay tuned. Happy diving and always know, we are here if you need us!