Atlantic Coastal Diver - August, 1981
-by Nick Griffin
A Dive Business Profile - Alan M. Baskin
His excitement and enthusiasm for diving is contagious. Just talking to Alan Baskin for a few minutes is enough to bring on feelings of euphoria about diving. It comes from being around someone who is genuinely happy with himself and what he's doing. After spending the better portion of a 5 day stay in Haiti, both formally interviewing and just plain talking with Alan Baskin, the complexity of his life unfolded.
Alan has a favorite statement: "RIGHT NOW I'M HAVING THE BEST TIME OF MY LIFE!" The best part is that he's serious when he says it. He's probably done more things and been successful in more occupations than most people you'll ever get to meet. He's actively chosen the direction he's taken with his life, he's delighted with its outcome, and he wants you to know it.
How did Alan's present course get set? As he describes it, "In 1949, while a student at the University of Miami, I did my first dive off Miami Beach at 17th and Collins. I'd managed to put together a rig using an Air Force surplus oxygen mask and a Kidde fire extinguisher bottle. It was the first time I'd been able to do anything other than free diving, with one of the first masks in the States, because up until that time there were goggles. It was like WOW!! Love at first dive!"
After college, Alan's first job took him to Paris with CBS News. From there CBS moved him to California as a writer of shows including "Let's Pretend" and "Sam Spade." Leaving that behind, Alan formed his own film production company in Hollywood, which he operated until he decided to go into the baby formula business a couple of years later. Through the changes he never lost his love for diving.
As the baby boom boomed, so did the baby formula business. Alan created the first manufacturing concern of its kind, and it ultimately skyrocketed him into the position of running a nationwide network of 11 plants headquartered from his Chicago offices. This is where most stories would end "happily ever after." But Alan describes his life at that point as needing more.
"Every year I planned a big dive trip. The Bahamas, Caribbean, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Central America... I could afford to go anyplace I wanted. The best time of the year became the time I went diving. Finally, I realized that I spent 11 1/2 months of looking forward to something instead of doing it! I figured that I had it backwards. I should figure out a way to go diving 11 1/2 months a year!" So in 1969 Alan got out of the baby formula business and opened a dive and charter business in Granada, a Windward island in the Southeastern part of the Caribbean.
Alan spent a very pleasant 3 1/2 years on Granada. Unfortunately, this wasn't meant to be the "happy ending" either. "The political situation went down the drain and everybody left Granada..." including Alan who had managed to sell his dive and charter business to someone less visionary about Granada's immediate future.
Not wanting to see politics get in the way again, Alan began a 9 month survey of the Caribbean using Miami as his home base. After seeing "virtually every place there was to dive in the Caribbean" Alan set up shop in a large hotel in the Dominican Republic. That hotel's purchase by Club Med brought on Alan's last move to Haiti.
Presently, Baskin in the Sun operates dive shops and services from 3 separate hotels on Haiti, including Ibo Beach where our visit took place. In May of this year, the business expanded operations into the Turks and Caicos Islands and opened in the Island Princess Hotel on Providenciales. I was told that there is even some consideration being given to a Baskin in the Sun operation in the Indian Ocean. Judging from the size of Alan's organization, it seems he's bringing to diving some of his flare for big business.
What it all gets down to is attitude. Alan knew that diving made him happy so he made the career decision to be happy all the time. His excitement over the way he makes his living still shows, and it rubs off. He feels good so his guests feel good; and instead of one-time visitors they become return customers. Combine these "good vibes" with the fact that Alan shows his guests truly spectacular and virginal diving and the continued growth of Baskin in the Sun seems assured.
Alan's message for those of us who are really addicted to diving is simple: "If there's something that really turns you on, something you think you'd like to do all the time, figure out a way to do it as your livelihood." Obviously it's worked for Alan Baskin.