The Growth of PADI
In the early years, PADI grew slowly. By the late 1960s, PADI had 400 members and it was still a struggling entity. John Cronin had been promoted to Sales Manager at U.S. Divers and had moved the family to Huntington Beach, California.
Cronin went to a huge National Sporting Goods Association show in New York City. While he was there, he met with Paul Tzimoulis, who later became the editor of Skin Diver Magazine. Paul suggested that PADI put the diver’s picture on the certification card. That was a strategic move that helped PADI’s eventual global recognition.
Cronin and Erickson hired Nick Icorn from U.S. Divers’ engineering team, who worked with Erickson to develop a modular training program for the PADI Open Water Diver course. It started to catch on.
In the late 1970’s and early 80’s PADI began creating its own integrated, multi-media student and instructor educational materials for each course. This development spawned an incredible growth period for PADI and made it unique from other agencies.
By the late 1980s PADI was the leading scuba diving training organization in the world. With so many new people introduced to the activity, PADI felt a responsibility to teach divers about their interactions with the underwater environment. PADI had worked very hard over the years to keep the scuba diving industry as free from legislation as possible. Cronin knew the organization had a responsibility to protect the marine environment or risk the government doing so. John Cronin said: “We want to feel that our children, their children and generations to come will be able to enjoy the underwater world that has given us so much. There are so many significant problems facing mankind, but as divers, this is truly our cause. If scuba divers do not take an active role in preserving the aquatic realm, who will?”