January 13th, 2010
Made in the USA has become more important than ever in the dive community. As the economy slows and the unemployment rate rises, we’re seeing boutique scuba gear brands appear. The problem is that these guys are often buying directly overseas and have no QC procedures in place. If you don’t have a reputable manufacturer overseas, eventually there will be a product quality issue and it can be serious. If the product fails, the boutique guy simply closes his garage door or moves to another apartment. There’s no recourse for the consumer. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen in the past 25 years in the business.
We try to build as many products in the USA as possible. That’s not to say that every product that is manufactured overseas is a problem. Take gauges, for example. These come out of Italy and are excellent. However, when we get products overseas we scrutinize the production process and make sure our vendor adheres to our quality control standards. In some cases, we even ship proprietary parts overseas rather than accept knock-offs. This means the external look of some of our gear might look like another overseas brand, but internally it’s not. We’ve got our OEM parts inside. We’ve tried off-the-shelf products years ago and learned quickly that the extra investment is worth it. You won’t find a Dive Rite product distributed in the original box it was shipped to us in either. We personally inspect and QC our products, whether it be from the USA or overseas.
The reason I bring this up in my blog is that Dive Rite is receiving more and more customer emails from dissatisfied customers of these boutique brands. They’ve found a good deal on the Internet and when the product fails, they aren’t getting the support they need. Thankfully, they turn to us and we’re able to help them.
This isn’t to say that all boutique brands are bad. Do your research and ask questions. A busted hose or delaminated wing isn’t worth the savings when your safety is at stake.