This was written by my wife Kathy.
In this day and age, how can a small business not only stay afloat, but remain competitive as well? One might suggest that the small business person must offer a special niche that could only be filled by utilization of their particular business. We have seen many small and unique businesses falter here, even under the umbrella of a compelling public market. We have witnessed smaller food stores gobbled “whole” by larger chains and deeper pockets. What holds a small business together and makes it viable? Certainly the determination and grit of the people behind the entity can be labeled as one of the factors. It is difficult to quantify a business as small when it has such un-daunting enthusiasm driving it forward. Another aspect of small business is that the product and/or services offered by the business are as individual as the owners themselves.
These statements definitely apply to the local Portland, Maine business of Sub Sea Research, LLC, which has been not only in the local scene for the last fifteen years, but has been in the international scene as well. What does Sub Sea offer in the way of that special niche? Sub Sea equals excitement! Where else can excitement of this magnitude be found in Maine? Perhaps some may say in the amusement parks or Hollywood Slots but do they offer intrigue as well? Sub Sea offers all of that and more. The lure of the sea is something that most Mainers can understand. After all, we have one of the most extensive and beautiful coastlines in the world. Even celebrities, such as John Travolta, Kelly Preston and Martha Stewart (to name a few) flock here to experience that undeniable natural beauty and the “way life should be” which stands as Maine’s motto.
One Mainer, Greg Brooks, can attest to all of this and to the call of the sea. Born in the sign of water, this Maine man built swimming pools for nineteen years here. He established not only a solid reputation but the incredible water features built by him around this fair state stand as a testament and legacy to his talent. Now how did he get from building swimming pools to researching and recovering old shipwrecks? The story becomes as interesting as the man himself. In 1984, during a dive vacation with his wife and friends, Brooks came across a seventy pound silver bar. At that time, Haiti was ruled by a dictator, and as men with machetes walked the shoreline, Brooks hid the bar on a reef with the intention of coming back. Research done in Maine upon return, revealed that the bar was actually comprised of silver. He did go back in 1988, and that theory was confirmed.
By the year 1993, Greg Brooks was ready to devote his full attention to this new career and formed operation Silver Bars with its newly acquired vessel of nearly 100’, named the Silver Seas, equipped to deploy. A coup kept them out of Haiti for a bit, but they gained experience in knowledge and as a team in the Bahamas, off the Carolinas and in the Florida Keys. Many expeditions were to follow in the coming years, in Haiti as well, where shipwrecks and artifacts were discovered and friendships were forged. To follow the story and view some amazing footage of these times, go to subsearesearch.com. It is truly transforming and the web site gives you a glimpse into the world of someone who actually does this for a living.
Most of us who are in the “shipwreck business” have heard of a man named Mel Fisher, who recovered “The Atocha”, a valuable wreck found in the Florida Keys. Some of us have even been fortunate enough to view the fabulous treasures housed in his museum there. And what of that man? The man was a chicken farmer who developed interesting aspirations. What qualities does it take to endure in a sometimes harsh yet rewarding business such as the one these have chosen to follow? Certainly endurance. He weathered not only stormy seas but the loss of his son and daughter-in-law. He managed to press on and remain faithful to his mantra of “Today’s the day!” Greg Brooks is such a man. Endurance, grit and determination are definitely qualities which can be applied to his character. He too is motivated by a belief in himself and in the remarkable team of researchers and crew that have been put together. He is buoyed by the indomitable support from his wife and family, his admirable business partners, and the unwavering support of those who also hold an interest in his continued success.
There is a new project in the works, an operation known only as “PN”. Keep your ears and eyes open for up-coming news on this new venture and on “the local boy who does good” and makes a small business in Maine look big.