Wednesday, July 25, 2012

DEMA Show Educational Track Highlights New Strategies to Help Businesses Acquire New Divers

Beyond the exhibit floor, DEMA Show provides excellent educational programming to help Industry professionals take control of their businesses and succeed during these challenging times. With a seminar program packed with sessions for every business type and size, Show attendees can expect to find ideas they can apply to their own operations to help their business and career.  This year, DEMA’s sponsored seminar Track 3: Strategies to Acquire New Divers, is especially robust, offering a dozen seminars aimed at increasing visibility, acquiring new customers, and enhancing business marketing strategies. These seminars will be offered throughout DEMA Show, taking place in Las Vegas, NV, November 14-17, 2012.

The seminars within this track are packed with powerful ideas and information that can help Attendees grow their business from in-demand speakers such as Jason Heller, CEO, Agiliti; Stacy Garrett, Senior Account Executive, Southwick Specialty Advertising; Steve Huskey, Client Relations Consultant, ReachLocal and more. Seminar topics include: 
  • Mobile Marketing: What You Need to Know
  • Using Google's Pay-Per-Click and Remarketing to Make More Money
  • The Power of Pinterest
  • Free Social Media Tools for the Small to Medium Business Owner
  • Cross-Promotions to Help More People Become Divers
  • Optimizing Google Places to Get More Visibility
  • Promoting Partnerships
  • PR: Making a Name for Yourself
  • Grow Your Business with the 30-Day Marketing ACTION Plan
  • Growing in Challenging Times
  • Drop Your Hook Where Your Future Customers Are
  • YouTubing for a Treasure Chest of Dollars  
In addition to the sessions within this invaluable seminar Track, attendees will also find Track 1: Understanding Your Customer, Track 2: Better Business Performance and Track 4: Strategies to Retain Your Current Customers, to be excellent sources of ideas and strategies they can incorporate into their own businesses.

View complete session details and register for the DEMA Sponsored Seminar package on the DEMA Show website. 2012 DEMA Members can save up to $125 on their seminar package price by registering now, before the early-bird pricing deadline of October 29, 2012. Become a 2012 DEMA Member today and SAVE! All attendees are encouraged to make the most of their Show experience by attending these seminars to help them take control of their business

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Changes in Health Care as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Goes into Effect

New Requirements and Changes – See Your Accounting Professional to Prepare NOW
After more than two years the U.S. Supreme Court issued the final ruling on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on June 28, 2012.
The Court ruled the law’s “Individual Mandate” was valid. This was the one aspect of the PPACA which could have impacted the constitutionality of the entire law; thus, the entire law stands. The Individual Mandate requires all Americans to either purchase health insurance or be fined by the federal government.
The Court’s decision to leave most other aspects of the law intact means the PPACA will go forward as planned.
In the ruling, the Court stated that the main claim used to argue against implementation of the law—that Congress could not impose a “financial penalty” on Americans to force them to purchase health insurance—was actually unconstitutional. However, the Court also said that it would simply read the law to say that Congress would impose a “tax” on individuals if they did not buy health insurance. In other words, fining someone is wrong, but taxing is acceptable. Indeed, since Congress already has virtually unlimited power to tax, imposing this “Individual Mandate Tax” was deemed constitutional even though that was not Congress’ stated intent when it created the law.
With this decision, many private companies will have increased administrative and paperwork requirements. In addition, health care costs may increase for your company. It is these issues which private companies will have to consider as this measure takes full effect over the next 18 months.
To help DEMA members understand the law’s effects and their new responsibilities, some of the more critical elements of the law which will have a direct or indirect impact are outlined below. It is critical that DEMA member companies review these changes with accounting professionals to determine the impact on individual companies.
 New W-2 Reporting Requirement – effective January 1, 2012
  1. Requires companies to disclose all money spent for health insurance premiums by both the employer and employee on the employee’s 2012 W-2 form issued in 2013. Companies with fewer than 250 W-2s in 2011 are exempt from this requirement in 2012.
 New Employer Mandates – effective January 1, 2014
  1. Companies with an average of 50 full-time employees during the last year must offer insurance to their full-time employees. “Full-time employee” is defined as one who is employed on average at least 30 hours/week during any month.
  2. Part-time employees are to be counted when determining if your company has 50 full-timers, but you are not required to offer them insurance. The formula used to count part-time employees is as follows:
    1. Take the total hours worked by part-timers in a month and divide by 120, then
    2. Add that number to the number of full-timers to see if you reach 50.
  3. Companies which meet the 50 full-time employee threshold and do not offer insurance will be fined up to $2,000 per full-timer (less the first 30 full-timers) if:
    1. One full-time employee enrolls in an Exchange plan, and
    2. That employee is eligible to receive a tax credit or subsidy.
  4. Companies which meet the 50 full-time employee threshold and do offer insurance can still be fined. The fine is up to $3,000 for each full-time employee who:
    1. Enrolls in an exchange plan, and
    2.  Is eligible to receive a tax credit or subsidy.
  5. If a company has 50 full-time employees, then its full-time seasonal workers must also be offered insurance.
  6. If a company has less than 50 full-time employees but its full-time seasonal workers push it over the threshold, then:
    1. The company must offer insurance to its full-time employees if it reaches the threshold for more than 120 days.
    2. The company is not required to offer insurance to its full-time employees if it reaches the threshold for 120 days or less.
  7. “Seasonal worker” is defined as one who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis.
  8. Companies with 200 or less full-time employees may have up to a 90-day probationary period before offering new full-time employees insurance.
  9. Companies with more than 200 full-time employees do not have a probationary period which delays enrollment in an insurance plan. They must automatically enroll new full-timers in their insurance plan and give the new employee an opportunity to opt-out. 
 New American Health Benefit Exchanges – effective January 1, 2014
  1. Each State must establish an Exchange that makes qualified health plans available for purchase by qualified employers.
  2. An Exchange may operate in more than one State if each State agrees.
  3. An Exchange must:
    1.  Certify that plans meet government requirements,
    2. Provide a comparative analysis of the offered plans,
    3. Provide cost information for each plan, and
    4. Assign a rating to each plan.
  4. The new law requires health insurance providers to consider all enrollees in health plans offered in the small group market – those in the Exchange and not in the Exchange – to be members of one, single risk pool.
  5. Starting January 1, 2013, each company must notify all of its employees about the Exchange:
    1. How they may contact the Exchange for further information,
    2. What services it provides,
    3. That employees may be eligible for a tax credit or subsidy if they purchase their insurance through the Exchange, and
    4. That they will lose their employer’s contribution for insurance but anything they spend on insurance will be tax exempt.
New and Increased Taxes on Private Company Members – effective January 1, 2013
Before these tax changes take place, private company leaders should consider how much of an impact this could have on a company’s revenue.
  1. A new3.8% Medicare tax on interest, investment and dividend income for those individuals making $200,000 or more per year and for those couples making $250,000 or more per year. This tax is in addition to any capital gains tax and income tax already levied against those funds.
  2. An increase in the Medicare payroll tax by 0.9% for those individuals making $200,000 or more per year and couples making $250,000 or more per year. If a company has 50 families making $500,000 per year, then this comparatively small payroll tax increase could cost it over $100,000.
New Fees and Taxes Affecting Current Health Insurance Premiums
Private companies should be prepared for a potential health insurance rate increase which may arise from the expected pass-through of the new taxes/fees, including:
  1. Fees levied on pharmaceutical manufacturers for all items sold.
  2. A 2.3% tax on medical device manufacturers for all products sold – beginning January 1, 2013.
  3. An insurance company fee for all policies sold (the Health Insurance Tax – HIT) – beginning January 1, 2014.
  4. A 40% tax on health insurance policies costing more than $10,200 for an individual plan or $27,500 for a family plan – beginning January 1, 2018.  This tax is levied only on the amount above the threshold limit.
For Businesses with 50 or Fewer Employees
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes a tax credit for businesses employing fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees. The tax credit, which is in effect now, can cover up to 35 percent of the premiums a small business pays to cover its workers. In 2014, the rate will increase to 50 percent.
  1. Qualifying firms must have fewer than the equivalent of 25 full-time workers (e.g., a firm with fewer than 50 half-time workers would be eligible), pay average annual wages below $50,000, and cover at least 50 percent of the cost of health care coverage for their workers.
  2. The tax credit phases out gradually for firms with average wages between $25,000 and $50,000 and for firms with the equivalent of between 10 and 25 full-time workers.
  3. To avoid an incentive to choose a high-cost plan, an employer’s eligible contribution is limited to the average cost of health insurance in that state.
These were just some of the more critical elements of the law which will have a direct or indirect impact on DEMA Member companies. It is critical for each business to review these changes in detail with the appropriate accounting professionals to determine its actual impact.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Saturday at DEMA Show Brings Opportunities to Share Information and Ideas

Registration for DEMA Show 2012 in Las Vegas, NV is now officially open and attendees will find they have a number of special events, educational sessions and Show features from which to choose. Saturday has historically been a favorable day for Show Attendees as it offers a number of great seminars and allows for usage of the exclusive Saturday-Only Immersion Pass. This year, a number of the educational sessions and industry seminars held on Saturday, November 17th, 2012, will allow attendees the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the future of the industry.
Starting off the Show’s Saturday morning will be an Espresso Education Session discussing the Lionfish invasion which has been detrimental to the diving industry and local marine life in the Caribbean. “Lionfish Invasion Update 2012,” will cover the status of the lionfish invasion, updates on recent research, success of control efforts and how divers can make a positive impact.  Significant time will be allocated for questions and answers including discussions on feeding of lionfish to other marine predators and organizing removal events to control local lionfish populations. This session, presented by Lad Akins, Director of Special Projects, Reef Environmental Education Foundation, is a MUST for those interested in understanding more about this invasion and learning how to a part of the solution. Additional information on this seminar can be found on the Show website.

Also held on Saturday the 17th, will be another session of the strategic planning series, “2020: Vision for the Diving Industry.” 
In 2011 DEMA asked what was needed to grow the Diving Industry and now is the opportunity to brainstorm HOW to achieve that growth. DEMA Executive Director, Tom Ingram, will lead the discussion as DEMA seeks continuing input on the direction of the diving industry.  According to Ingram, “These sessions have contributed to DEMA’s strategic planning, and have even provided guidance on benefits provided by DEMA to its members.  In addition, feedback from these sessions has influenced the direction of DEMA’s Water, Sports and Travel Festival staging in April of 2013.  The 2020 Vision Session at DEMA Show is an opportunity to network and contribute to DEMA’s planning and execution of member programs.” All professional members of the diving industry are welcome and should come prepared to brainstorm, prioritize their ideas and help provide a new direction for the industry and for DEMA.  Registration is required and additional information on this 2020 Vision Session can be found on the
registration page.

There are many options to attend sessions like these two, including the Saturday-Only Immersion Pass for those unable to attend DEMA Show earlier in the week. This pass includes: ExhibitsExhibitor Sponsored Seminars, IRC Seminars and Espresso Education Sessions on SATURDAY ONLY. 2012 DEMA Members purchase this pass during the discounted registration period for only $20! Complete details on the Saturday-Only Immersion Pass can be found on the DEMA Show 2012 website.


**Association Provides Guidance on New Pool Requirements in Two Levels of On-Line Training**
DEMA has scheduled webinar sessions to help DEMA Members understand and implement the new swimming pool requirements recently enacted as part of the ADA.  In May, the United States Department of Justice issued an extension on the compliance date for the ADA Standards for Accessible Design for existing pools and spas provided by state and local governments and by public accommodations. The new deadline is now January 31, 2013.
ADA 101: Untangling the ADA...Simple Advice for DEMA Members
Date: Monday, July 30, 2012 at 8:00am - 9:00am EST
          Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 8:00am – 9:00am PST

Confused about what to do when a customer with a disability comes into your store?  Wondering about how much you have to do to meet the minimum ADA requirements for access to your site?

This webinar will review some common sense customer service issues, from a disability angle.  We'll discuss the swimming pool lift issues that have been in the news for months.  We'll also review how the ADA is enforced, and the brick-and-mortar aspects of the ADA including what “readily achievable barrier removal” means.  This will include a look at parking, doors and entries, lockers and showers, restrooms, getting in and out of a pool, alarms, and other aspects of the built environment.

ADA 201: Access and Inclusion and DEMA Members...A Bit More than Just the Minimum
Date: Friday, August 3, 2012 at 8:00am – 9:00am CST
This webinar is designed for DEMA members who have experience serving customers with disabilities.
We'll revisit the federal regulation that became effective March 15, 2011 and discuss the way in which court and administrative decisions affect DEMA members.  We'll also review the brick-and-mortar aspects of the ADA and discuss what readily achievable barrier removal means.  This will include a look at parking, doors and entries, lockers and showers, restrooms, getting in and out of a pool, alarms, and other aspects of the built environment.  We'll discuss the swimming pool lift issues that have been in the news for months.
Finally, we'll talk about smart practices here and how DEMA members can expand business by capturing some of this market.
It is best to attend BOTH 101 and 201 to get all of the information needed to implement these new aspects of the ADA. Sessions are open to DEMA Members only and are free of charge. 
Additional information will be provided via DEMAIL in the next few days.
Learn more about the ADA ruling and how it may affect you here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Be A Diver Pool Helps Disabled Military Veterans From Across the Nation Try Scuba Diving at the 8th Annual Adaptive Watersports Festival

The Be A Diver Pool Tour will stop in Breezy Point, New York from July 14-15, to join New York City Firefighters and Wounded Warrior Project™ (WWP) volunteers to introduce scuba diving to disabled military veterans at the 8th Annual Adaptive Watersports Festival.

Retail Membership Manager, “Big Wave” Dave Reidenbach, and DEMA Member Retailers Hoboken Divers, Kings County Diver, Scuba Network, Scuba New York and Ski and Scuba Connection, will be on site to introduce scuba diving to these soldiers in the Be A Diver portable pool. “Learning to scuba dive helps immensely mostly because it shows you’re still capable of accomplishing things you never thought, even prior to injury,” commented Wounded Military Veteran Chris Melendez.

Over 100 members of the U.S. Armed Services, many having sacrificed limbs as a result of injuries sustained while fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will experience adapted scuba in the Be A Diver pool as part of the WWP’s Physical Health & Wellness program. The program looks to optimize the physical and psychological well-being of warriors through recreation and sports programs, physical health promotion strategies, physical rehabilitation and legislative policy change.

“DEMA and the Be A Diver Pool are thrilled to again be a part of this program and help these courageous men and women explore health and wellness options which can enhance their lives, said Tom Ingram, DEMA Executive Director. “We are continually amazed and impressed with their strength and character, and we thank them for their service. If this program helps even in a small way, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve them, and we look forward to sharing our own love for the freedom, peace and adventure the water and recreational scuba diving can offer.”

Making stops throughout the year at various consumer-oriented travel, outdoor activity and adventure shows, the Be A Diver Pool makes it possible for anyone in good health, 10 years old and up to discover the fun and exciting sport of scuba diving for FREE in the comfort of a large, tropically warm pool. Event attendees are also able to test out some of the latest scuba equipment and have their photo taken underwater as an everlasting keepsake. Those who take the plunge in the Be A Diver Pool can use provided wetsuits, towels, dressing rooms and even hair dryers!

DEMA Submits Public Comments on Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) Boundaries, Marine Zones, & Associated Regulations

Association Supports Sanctuary and its Maintenance as a Principal US Conservation Site

The Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) recently submitted comments to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and it’s advisory council on issues related to the Sanctuary’s boundaries, marine zones and associated regulations. The comments were submitted by Tom Ingram, Executive Director of DEMA, on behalf of the Association and will be used to guide and assess the marine zone and regulations, and shape Florida Keys marine conservation for the future.

Sanctuary officials solicited comments from the public as part of the FKNMS’s periodic review process, with the goal of using the input to determine the best direction within the sanctuary to protect and conserve the living marine resources and submerged cultural resources of the Florida Keys.

“DEMA and the Diving Industry strongly support the FKNMS in its current configuration,” commented Ingram. “The Diving Industry depends on sustainable interaction with the marine environment as well as with certain submerged cultural resources for its very existence, and is aware of the need for long term sustainability within the National Marine Sanctuary System.”

DEMA’s comments emphasized:
  • Maintaining sustainable use of the resource while protecting the environment and its historical and cultural importance.
  • The interest of snorkeling and scuba diving participants in protecting and respectfully using the marine environment while keeping it clean and healthy.
  • That individuals participating in recreational scuba diving and snorkeling contribute to marine-related tourism in Florida.
  • The interest of snorkelers and scuba divers in protecting and observing historical and cultural artifacts.
  •  DEMA’s continuing interest in providing input to the Advisory Groups on behalf of Recreational diving.

Ingram concluded, “DEMA and the Dive Industry look forward to working with the State of Florida and Federal Authorities to ensure that FKNMS remains one of the nation’s principal conservation sites. As the trade association for the Recreational Diving Industry, DEMA has a strong interest in additional and continuing opportunities to contribute suggestions and ideas with regard to sanctuary designation and boundaries, and to other activities.”