On 13 December 2006 a special gathering occurred at Denisâs favourite drinking hole, the Bucklandâs Beach Yacht Club, Auckland.
For Denis to invite his mates and business associates to such a flash place was rather out of character! In fact in his 20 years as a director of Pro Dive New Zealand he has never put on such a lavish affair – not that I can recall anyway! They came in their 1000s – or was it their 100s? – well maybe in their 10s … whatever number it was there was a heap of âmatesâ to farewell him on his retirement from the business he started with his brother Colin and Ian Miller in November 1987. Rumour had it that because he had spent a fortune over the years sampling the Clubâs fine beers (mainly the top quality brand, Lion Red) the Club gave him the room for free which allowed him to put $99 on the bar tab! The crowd rushed the bar for a least 20 seconds – they knew this was a life changing event for Denis and they wanted to be part of history!
Now that I have poked enough borax at Denis and hopefully got his attention I will tell you what a fine bastard he is! In the June/July 2004 #82 issue, page 46 of the magazine we ran a farewell to his partner Ian (hairy legs) Miller (Mills) and in that article we recorded the extraordinary growth that Pro Dive NZ had achieved over the years culminating in their 17,000 sq ft manufacturing facility in East Tamaki where they manufacture the famous Pro Dive wetsuit range and numerous diver accessories and supplying the Tusa range of scuba diving equipment throughout the country. Denisâs business acumen played a huge part in this growth. He has a thorough knowledge of the dive industry and knew what products needed to be developed and what would sell. He and Ian were a match made in business heaven – Denis who knew how to spend a dollar wisely and Mills who could sell snorkels to humpback whales – un-stoppable!
At Millsâs farewell in 2004, Denis spoke of their friendship and of never having had an argument in their business partnership. That is a very rare event in business and at Denisâs drinks Mills returned the compliment. I thought no greater compliment could be made at a fellow directorâs retirement.
Denis will be remembered for his astute business sense, fair play, and he was always willing to discuss the future direction of the diving industry and of course to have the odd Lion Red or two!
Mills left a hole in the industry when he retired and the hole just got bigger with Denis and his partner and working associate Jan as they slip the mooring line and sail into the sunset on âClear Watersâ with the sound system beating out Frank Sinatraâs, âI did it my wayâ.
Denis on behalf of the Diving Industry we wish you and Jan a long and healthy time enjoying the fruits of your many hours of ensuring the New Zealand diver received the best possible product and service. Enjoy your boating and travelling! – Dave Moran
Pictured l-r: Denis Petty and Ian Miller.