Developing a family diving business: meeting with Martin Parker

Some time ago, I told you about my dive with a rebreather, the one designed by Martin Parker, this impressive machine to make underwater explorations in silence … for my greatest pleasure 🤗

But, what I did’nt tell you at that time was that I had the pleasure of meeting, twice already, his designer.

Focus on the faultless diving career of Martin Parker, Managing Director of AP Diving

A childhood rocked by diving …

Martin Parker has always been rocked in the world of diving. His parents started this activity at a very young age and decided to bring their three sons in this adventure. Martin and his brothers grew up in the fascinating world of diving and knew a lot of diving spots better than anyone else. From the Lake District’s inland quarries to the salty sites of Devon and North Wales. When they are not busy building rafts or exploring dive spots, the three brothers are engrossed in the stories of the marine explorations of their parent.

The 1st Dive

Encouraged early to swim in a competitive way, it’s at the age of 6 that the little Martin will make his first dive in a swimming pool, in the middle of the 60’s! (I told you he was a pioneer 😁)
Later, his mother will give him an old diving suit for Christmas. A wet suit that will allow him a nice day of February to realize his first dive in a natural environment in the quarry of Enderby in the Midlands in a water at 6 ° C

At the age of 14, Martin is finally allowed to learn to dive in a formal way after practicing snorkeling at a high level and learning how to handle boats.

It’s with his mother that he will make his first sea dive in North Wales.

… and the business around him …

In 1969, alongside their diving activities for fun, Martin Parker’s parents made components for diving BCD, mouthpieces, inflators and pressure relief valves. Their first product will be the “AP Valve”, a mouthpiece attached to the inflator allowing the diver to breathe (a kind of second emergency stage). In 1976, they manufactured one of the first HF welded BCD in polyurethane – the BUDDY-. Martin and his brothers were completely involved in the use of molding machines, in the assembly and testing of products, before their shipment.

Soon, Martin becomes passionate about these designs and will later take over the family business he runs today with his wife Nicky.

And here it started

During the 1980s Martin became aware of the importance of using a rebreather during his TRIMIX training. He realized that the use of a twin tank limited his underwater explorations and that the gas (TRIMIX) was very expensive. At that time, he designed diving kits to meet his needs.  Different types of BCD (Double Gold Buddy, Pacific, Sea King, Commando), valves, etc …. the rebreather was finally just an extension of his work.

During his training as TRIMIX diver, Martin is approached by Peter Readey who wanted him to look at his semi-closed rebreather and also by Draeger who was looking for help to develop and manufacture the Atlantis rebreather.

Martin Parker se prépare à plonger
Martin Parker ready to dive

After 2 months, Martin ended the collaboration with Peter while the one with Draeger lasted despite the fact that they knew that Martin and his team were also developing their own rebreather.

Collaboration or not ?

Indeed, three months after the work started with Draeger, two divers approached Martin to tell him that they had an electronic rebreather and that he could help them, which he did. Two months later, these divers offered to Martin to try their modified BCD. It was a -22m dive in the sea off Fowey (Cornwall). The mouthpiece of the modified BCD came from a double hose regulator, so you had to be careful not to let it fall out of your mouth but surprisingly the small screen showed oxygen during the dive and kept accurate information during the dive .

This was the trigger for Martin Parker who realized that it was possible to design an optimal device that would use only oxygen and that would maintain a constant PPO2 regardless of the depth.

Martin describes this moment as a moment of grace, a kind of revelation and as soon as he returns to the surface he says “we are going to do that

This is the beginning of the AP Diving rebreather adventure

… and who is passionate about him

If you ask Martin Parker what he would dream to do in his life,  he will probably answer you: “I’m already doing it”

Martin is one of those people who have made their dreams come true and are all focused on what they love to do.

Passionate about product development, Martin Parker recognizes that he has a great test facility for rebreather and regulators and loves to spend as much time as possible there.

Aware of being surrounded by a dedicated team that handles most of the day-to-day aspects of the business, Martin takes the opportunity to focus on important issues as they arise and on the company’s representation in the various exhibitions of the world of diving.

Sometimes, he would like to spend less time in front of his PC to answer emails but finally, this inconvenience remains minor compared to all that offers him his job such as meetings with people.

Indeed, for Martin Parker, one of the real benefits of working professionally in the dive world is to meet fantastic and passionate people, many of whom become true friends.

If Martin Parker’s business is well-established and globally renowned, he does not intend to stop there. The man is a character full of resources and talents who hope to see many more projects in the making.

A business that also leaves room for his family

Martin Parker works in his company with his wife Nicky.

Martin Parker et sa femme Nicky
Nicky and Martin

Aware that there are times in the year that business dominates completely, Martin tries to compensate by planning relaxing times with his family.

In recent years, he has, for example, started to spend a few weeks each year in the Mediterranean to sail and he plans to increase this time in the future to share special moments with his beloved for boating, sailing, climbing, flying … all the passions he shares with his family.

Martin Parker et sa famille devant leur avion
Family

Passionate about diving, Martin Parker is probably as much as flying. If he speaks to me with pleasure about his 1976 Cessna, it is with such happiness that he gets involved in a charitable organization “Feet of the Ground” (FOG) whose goal is to make children fly.  (whose life expectancy is limited and / or have a disability)

Helping them achieve their dreams is a joy for Martin Parker.

A passion for diving that allows beautiful discoveries …

Martin Parker, diving since he is 6, is eclectic in the choice of dive sites. From the Cornish coasts he loves, he has however long been searching for the warm seas all around the Globe (Maldives, the Caribbean, Indonesia, New Zealand, Red Sea, …) through the shores of the Mediterranean, Martin likes to dive (with his rebreather) in various places.

But it’s the combined “Chaouen – Messerschmidt” dive at Le Planier which he ranks as one of his most beautiful dives … just like the meeting of the Mantas in the Maldives or the “HMHS Britannic” wreck.

Of course, it’s not always necessary to travel far to make beautiful dives and Martin keeps in memory a fabulous dive on the Runnelstone pinnacle with a visibility of 30 meters and a blue water where it is usually green.

Martin also enjoys diving on relatively intact wrecks.

He tells me that going 45km from Falmouth, heading south and then east, it’s still possible to find wrecks with their bells. Because they are deep, they are hard to reach and require good logistics, a good team, the right time and the right boat.

Martin Parker occupé à plonger
Martin Parker Diving

… and disappointments

When he was very young, Martin Parker dived a lot in the Cornwall region trying to identify wrecks. He saw cannons and anchors everywhere.

Today, he is sorry to see that these anchors and cannons have been removed … just to rot in someone’s garden.

Quite clearly, Martin Parker prefers to leave what is in the sea when it comes to wrecks … and I can only agree with him when we talk about diving in Normandy for example

The secret of a successful dive

For Martin Parker, if the choice of dive sites is certainly important, it is not the only ingredient of a successful dive. Indeed, Martin tells me that in his eyes, diving is always improved by the people you dive with; having a good time, laughing often and doing things together are also parts of successful dives.

And with this philosophy of diving shared with others, Martin Parker has a simple dream but so particular: perform a night dive with Laurent Ballesta in Fakarava … the call is there (and if I can be part of the expedition, I’m leaving too 😁)

Create your business in the world of diving?

Far from the image of dive-only, Martin Parker’s career can be a great source of inspiration for scuba diving enthusiasts who would like to use their talents and / or skills to start their own business in this wonderful world.

What would be you dream to start a business ?
Feel free to share your dreams and ideas in a comment directly below

And above all, do not forget to be happy 🤗

Helene

Find related informations about Martin and his business AP Diving on his web site or on his Facebook Page

 Do not hesitate to contact me if you also have neat projects, It would be my pleasure to meet with you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.