Visit at DUI – San Diego
From april 15th to 25th I got the opportunity together with some other dealers from Austria, Germany and the Netherlands to visit Dick Long and his company at the United States. The trip was organized by Thomas Dederichs, who runs BTS in Mönchengladbach, which is the wholesaler for DUI and Halcyon for Europe. On April 15th we met throughout the morning at the airport in Frankfurt and got to know each other. After a “extensive” check in, due to the security checks for flights in the US, we flew via Atlanta to Arkansas. There our group was welcomed by Dick Long, Faith Ortins and Quincy Morris from DUI.
Most of us knew these three already from the Boot show at Düsseldorf, former this year. So we went after a short hello to the hotel. After a good lunch in a steakhouse we went directly to bed. At the next morning we began with the preparation for a testevent from DUI at Beaver Lake. For us dealers it was an opportunity to get an idea how these events work and how to make something like that back home. Step by step we put up two tents and prepared for the next day. According to Faith we should be prepared for about 150 divers at the first day, who would like to test more than one suit.
To be prepared for that onrush the team from DUI and the local dealers were supported by some volunteers out of the dealers customers. The testevent itself went flawlessly and very disciplined and we had no troubles at all. Of course there were some curios like 6XL suits, which were field tested as well, regulators of participants, which nobody of us has ever seen before, or the dream of a mobile filling station.
After the end of the test on Sunday afternoon, we packed the whole testequipment in the truck and went back to the hotel to make a lazy evening. Dick made a short trip to Kentucky to buy some beer, because you can´t buy alcohol in Arkansas on Sundays...
Monday morning we flew via Dallas to San Diego. The dutch guys decided short term to take a later flight, because our flight was overbooked. So they were upgraded to business class and compensated wich 400 USD each ;-)). After we met all together again at San Diego we went all together to dinner, where we met also Susan Long, now the “boss” at DUI. The next day we visited the company and production at DUI and had a full programm. We got a very interesting and detailed look behind the scenes of the most popular and best drysuit company at this planet. Thanks to the explaints from Dick, Faith and Quincy we could deepen our knowledge about production and advantages of the different types of drysuits. Especially impressing was, that all suits are handmade from the cutting to sewing and gluing to the final leaktest.
Alone the seams are up to 5 times sealed by glue to garantee a watertight seam after years. That´s why DUI offers a 7 year warranty on material and seams. Even we were in middle of the production and hat tons of questions , which we asked the workers, we never had the feeling to disturb them or not beeing welcome. We could even find out one of the biggest secrets about dry suits out of first hand. It was about the production of the patented “crushed neoprene”, not to confuse with the “compressed neoprene” from other companys. Like the name “compressed neoprene” indicates, this is only compressed material, which holds its characteristics as “foam – rubber”, even its thickness gets less. Crushed neoprene on the other hand is produced by a unique process. The ready sewed suits get in a water filled tube and are set and held under high pressure for about one day.
By that, the nitrogen which is in the neoprene diffuses out of the material and leaves a new material, which has some advantages over neoprene. Crushed neoprene doesn´t change its thickness wich changing depths, is very abraison resistant and is resistant against aging. Especially the aging is anticipated by the crushing. By eliminating the gasbubbles in the material it is impossible, that little cracks in the material build up to a leak.
More interesting information was given about insulation and dry suit diving. We got the possibility to test different materials in dry and wet condition for their insulation. For maximum isolation at diving conditions (slight overpressure in the suit) is compression resistant Thinsulate the material of choise. We even got a training for repair, service and how to measure a customer for a special production suit. For it was the best opportunity ever, I orderd a special production suit for myself, according to my specifications. The version of choice was the TLS 350, which is the standard for technical diving. The so called Cave Edition or Explorer Suit has on top bellow pockets, a pee valve, Cordura overlays and a few more goodies. We has also the opportunity for diving and testing in San Diego waters. Everyone of us could test everything from the DUI product range, which was well practiced. The evening program was held by parties at Dick and Faith. There we could exchange diving stories and get a look at a perfect divers storeroom at the garage of Faith, where she had put a lot of trophys from her wreck diving career. Dick on the othe hand was telling a whole bunch of stories from his diving life. After 9 days at all we went back to “good old Europe” again.
Thanks again at Thomas and Dick for the invitation and organisation and at Faith, Susan and Quincy for the support throughout the whole trip.