Reaching Out Award DEMAThe Diving Equipment and Marketing Association has announced that Doug McNeese and Al Hornsby are the recipients of DEMA’s Reaching Out Award. To become a member of the DEMA Hall Of Fame is an extraordinary achievement and is available only to those who truly deserve to be recognized for their outstanding efforts and contribution to the sport of scuba diving. Representing two of the big scuba certifcation agencies, Doug (SSI) and Al (PADI) will be honored at DEMA SHOW 2017 for their exemplary, life-long service to business health, environmental sustainability and safety in the scuba Industry.

DEMA Hall of Fame Awards Party 2017

The Dive Industry will party down Roaring 20’s style at the 29th annual presentation of the prestigious Reaching Out Awards on November 3, 2017, where the industry will celebrate at this year’s 1920’s-inspired evening in honor of these two outstanding members of the diving community. The newest inductees to DEMA’s Hall of Fame will be honored at this year’s DEMA Awards Party. First presented in 1989, DEMA’s Reaching Out Award honors leaders in the diving community whose significant contributions to the sport have elevated the industry on all levels. This year’s recipients will be joining an extraordinary list of distinguished past Honorees.


Blue Ocean Summit alumnus Doug McNeese began his career in the diving industry in 1968 at the age of 16 when he began working at The Dive Shop founded by his parents. By 1982, McNeese had purchased the store from his parents. Two passions, training and retail, led him to expand to four Southeastern US locations, all with indoor pools.

In 1993, after 25 years in dive retail, McNeese’s training passion led him to purchase the National Association of Scuba Diving Schools, NASDS.  By authoring new materials with a retail approach to entry-level training, he quickly changed the outcome of the company, leading to a merger with SSI in 1999.

With a quest to continue SSI’s growth, McNeese and international partners purchased the company in 2008.  In 2014 HEAD Sports, a like-minded company with the passion to help members succeed, purchased SSI.

Among his many innovations, McNeese authored “the original retail dive training program,” Scuba University. His passion remains to bring more people into diving and make it a lifetime sport.

McNeese is the President of SSI USA and is now responsible for International Business Development. He continues to be driving force for recreational diving, while promoting SSI to strengthen the company’s growth worldwide.


We recently caught up with Al at his book launch at ADEX 2017. Al began free diving in 1962 at the age of 12 when his family moved to Guam, becoming a certified scuba diver the following year. His early years as a professional saw him as a published author, photographer, instructor, and manufacturer marketing manager.  Al joined PADI in 1978, as Training Facility Director.

In 35 years at PADI, Hornsby has served as Training Facility Director, Vice President of Education and Marketing, Executive Vice President, Vice President, Legal and Environmental Affairs, Senior Vice President, on PADI’s Executive Committee and as a Board Member of PADI and Diving Science and Technology Corp (DSAT). Hornsby presently serves as Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs, PADI Worldwide.

In 1989, Hornsby co-originated Project AWARE, serving as managing executive for its first nine years, and was involved in other environmental efforts and organizations. In the mid-1980’s, Hornsby initiated the industry standards committee forming the RSTC, and in the 1990’s, was a member of the committee restructuring DEMA into an industry-wide organization.  Hornsby served on DEMA’s BOD for many years, and was President for six years.

Al has authored and co-authored four books, including his most recent, Face to Face: Up Close with Mother Nature, published in 2016.

About the Reaching Out Awards

The Reaching Out Award was first presented in 1989.  Since inception the intent of the Award has been to recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to the sport of diving by “reaching out” in some special way to improve the sport for everyone. There are many ways to reach out and do something extraordinary for the sport.  Many who have been recognized were pioneers who helped develop techniques related to their special areas of expertise.  Their contributions have been made in such areas as photography, training, equipment design, publishing, travel, retailing, water safety, exploration and science. View DEMA’s Hall of Fame – A History of Reaching Out Award Recipients

Further details about the 2017 DEMA Awards Party are available on the DEMA Show website where industry members can purchase individual tickets from the DEMA Show registration system.  Unique sponsorship opportunities and VIP reserved seating for tables of 8 are also available by contacting Colleen Vasquez at or (858) 616-6408 x1006.