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Ivan Puglisi, a professional diver with a successful diving business in Italy, wanted to start a similar business in the United States. After vacationing on Hilton Head Island, he decided that the Lowcountry was the perfect location for his business.

Puglisi said, “My investment in Hilton Head resulted from a vacation to the area in 2011. Having started and built a similar, successful business in Italy, I knew that I could expand and start the same business in the coastal area of South Carolina. My goal is to provide fast and professional diving services to boat owners resulting in complete customer satisfaction.”

In addition to salvage services, Coastal Diving offers boat owners a variety of service like towing, fuel and battery delivery, jump starts and engine assistance. Underwater services include professional bottom cleaning of boats, propeller repairs, removal of tangled ropes, nets and fishing lines, retrieval of items lost overboard, mooring and canal marker installations, dock inspections and repair and video underwater inspections. They can even offer assistance for underwater research and documentary films.

Puglisi sought business advice from the Hilton Head Area Small Business Development Center with help on how to make his dream a reality in the United States. Consultant Pat Cameron worked with Puglisi and his business partner Joann Gullo for two months in 2013. Together, they created a business plan and projections for a business visa application for Coastal Diving.

“We were under a time crunch and Pat made herself available to us on weekends to edit our business plan,” Gullo said. “There were several Saturday and Sunday mornings when I would receive an e-mail from Pat with suggestions and comments on either our business plan or spreadsheets.”

Cameron felt it was a pleasure working with the Coastal Diving entrepreneurs. “Their vast business knowledge and passion for the business propelled the completion of their business plan in a short period of time,” Cameron said.

Their business visa was submitted in August and their interview was at the US Embassy in Italy in September.

“During the interview, the embassy employee thanked me for investing in the United States,” Puglisi said, “He stated that our business plan was the best he had ever read.”

Ivan received his business visa that same months and Coastal Diving opened for business on Hilton Head Island in early November 2013. Three jobs have been created and customer growth has been greater than projected because of marketing efforts and word-of-mouth.

Gullo has been very pleased with all the different types of help she received from Cameron and the Hilton Head SBDC.


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