Lee Ann Hires
International Sales Manager, Dive Rite
In 1986, I was spending my weekends boating off of West Palm Beach and the Florida Keys. A friend suggested that I learn to dive; I never thought it would be the start of an adventure quite like the one I encountered.
Living in North Florida, I signed up for a local scuba course that was taught in the nearby springs. I walked into class on the first day and met my instructor, Lamar Hires. I knew right then there was something very special about him…and less than a year later my scuba instructor would become my husband.
At the time, Lamar was teaching a great deal of open water classes as well as cave classes. He took our class to Key West to do our check-out dives. Seeing the beauty of the ocean underwater in a place where I had spent so much time boating on top of the waves was simply thrilling.
Since I lived near the freshwater springs, I was soon curious to try cave diving. By this time, Lamar and I were dating. Of course, dating a cave explorer certainly helped fuel my interest. Lamar was quite busy working at Dive Rite, exploring, and teaching, so on the weekends he asked his dive buddies to take me diving. Unknown to him, they were taking me cave diving! Lamar was shocked to find out I was diving the Peacock Springs system quite blissfully within a few weeks of receiving my open water certification. I began my cave training with Lamar and in January of 1987. We ventured on our first trip to Mexico to complete my certification. Mexico at the time was rugged and remote. We hiked our gear into the systems and certainly did not have the luxury of wooden steps and footpaths that are present today. I must have done well, because the day I finished my class Lamar asked me to marry him.
In six short months, my life had completely changed to focus around diving. At the age of twenty-five, I was already an independent business owner and now found myself gravitating toward greater involvement in the dive community. I was elected to the board of directors of the NSS Cave Diving Section and spent the next four years as the CDS Secretary Treasurer. On the weekends our home was filled with cave students coming and going. Florida cave exploration was in its hey-day and explorations were being planned and mapped on our very own dining room table. Meanwhile, Lamar worked tirelessly at Dive Rite, so you could say we were quite busy as newlyweds. After our son Jared was born, I would take him to the springs where daddy was teaching. I would swim and play with the baby while Lamar taught dive classes.
In 1997, Lamar and I bought Dive Rite and I sold my company to work at Dive Rite full time. In 2013, our son Jared graduated from the University of Florida and joined us at Dive Rite, making this truly our family business. My primary responsibility is International Sales, which has grown to representation in over 65 countries. I find it exciting and rewarding to work with clients all over the world.
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