Oceans of Opportunity

cut throat and cash

'A New Life in the Sea' by Michael LombardiThe long list of things that truly fascinate me about being a working diver never seems to stop growing, and this is even after some 15+ years at the game. Most importantly to me is being able to find an appreciable ‘art’ in heavy and potentially dangerous tasks. Yesterdays project was a good reminder of that, where I was using an underwater cutting torch all day to burn steel sheetpile.

Towards the lower end of my list, though no less fascinating is how close small diving contractors are to a type of piracy if you will. It is an incredibly cut throat business, where the low bidder often takes all – and not without causing bitter hatred within peer groups. yet, in times of need, all somehow come together to share resources. This seems especially true here in Rhode Island where being surrounded by water, we are densely populated with working divers despite our small geographic size.

And cash – is king, as they say. So true. Frequently, conversation goes like this:

contractor: I can do it for $4000.
client: no, can’t afford it.
contractor: ok, I’ll do it for $2500 cash.
client: ok.

This is not a dive sector specific business tactic, as it is widespread in many small business operations, and it serves to illustrate an interesting point – that is, there is a considerable amount of under the table business taking place in all industry sectors that undermines our government’s reach for recovering income tax obligations. It would be interesting to find some means to collate and calculate this and pair up with ‘normal’ business and again with those considered employed/unemployed. I believe the numbers would be staggering.

In any case, another successful series of days out on and underwater – white collar wages in a blue collar world while submerged in the blackness of our inshore waters, and business ethos.

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