Dianne Cruze is the President of Aqua Air Industries (AAI) whose purpose is to provide competitively priced, innovative and reliable commercial diving equipment. The company is registered with the U.S. Small Business Administration as a woman-owned business.
AAI was incorporated over 40 years ago by Rodney A. Cruze (1942-2005). His dream was to provide innovative equipment to the diving industry.
Key accomplishments include (partial list):
- AAI designed and built the first 1250 air filtration system, standardized by the U.S. Army
- In July of 2006, AAI provided the first new-built 1000 ft complete saturation diving system fabricated in the USA in over a decade
The company has a two-acre site in Harvey, Louisiana (4 miles from the port of New Orleans) that houses their Saturation Systems Division, fabrication facility, warehouse, electronics division, and diver’s locker showroom.
Scandurro & Layrisson, led by partner Tim Scandurro, has provided business and legal support for over 25 years. Read on to learn more about Dianne, her company and what it’s been like working with Tim and the Scandurro & Layrisson team.
Tell Us About Your Company
Aqua Air industries (AAI) began in 1972 and was started by my husband, Rodney Cruze. Rodney was an exciting person and he built this business and I joined him and helped him develop it.
We sell and manufacture commercial diving equipment, and we also represent various lines of other products that we sell domestically and internationally. Some of the products that we build include compressor packages, decompression chambers and saturation diving equipment.
AAI continues to operate as a family run business and is trusted by the military, government and scientific community for in-shore and offshore diving gear. We’re proud and enjoy working with commercial divers and our customers to innovate and improve diving equipment.
Tell Us About Your Entrepreneurial Journey
I’ve been a business woman since about 1972 starting in custom house brokerage and import exporting. I learned, very quickly, that moving equipment across the country and internationally was (and still is) challenging for a host of reasons. To address these challenges I had to become a highly competent logistics specialist.
When I met Rod, he was just starting AAI. It was a small company and he just started by contacting people selling products as a distributor and dealer representing companies that built diving helmets, dive suits, etc. Rod was a natural born salesperson, he was dynamic and relentlessly optimistic. My role was behind the scenes operations, team management, finance and logistics.
When Rodney passed in 2005, I abruptly became the face of the business and had some very big shoes to fill. I not only lost my husband but my business partner of 33 years. It was a difficult time for the business, our employees and my family.
Over the past 15 years we’ve stayed true to our purpose of providing competitively priced, innovative and reliable diving equipment. Our relationship with Scandurro & Layrisson (S&L) has provided us with a solid legal footing to protect our business and employees.
Scandurro & Layrisson Relationship
The relationship started in the 90s when we retained S&L for a range of legal services related to contracts with financial institutions, vendors and customers. Tim and the S&L team have also represented the company on matters related to litigation, contract disputes, property damage and insurance claims, personal injury, maritime and employment law. When my family or I or our employees have had personal legal needs, we have been able to turn to them for help.
We had already been working with S&L prior to Rodney’s passing. Once I became the leader and face of the business there was much more on my mind and plate. Our relationship with the S&L team evolved, to one that provided general business guidance, advice and moral support in addition to legal needs. I knew that Tim was just a call away if I had any question about my business – legal or otherwise. I was not only confident that all legal matters, for the business and my employees, would be managed well but that I had a friendly sounding board for matters related to where I was heading with the business. If something was outside his area of expertise, he never hesitated to introduce me to other specialists he worked with and could vouch for. It’s always been a great comfort.
“We ship commercial diving equipment nationally and internationally so ensuring we have strong legal expertise and representation is paramount. With Scandurro & Layrisson I always feel protected.”
What Advice Would You Give Other Entrepreneurs Looking for a Lawyer?
Scandurro & Layrisson was highly recommended to me by a very, very good business friend of mine and he was right on. So I would say when you’re looking for a good law firm, contact people that you know, that are already in business and speak with them and tell them what you are planning, and that’s the best way to get good advice on who to choose, because that led to my choosing Tim and his law firm. And it’s been fabulous.