Meet the Staff

Robert N. Carawan

Robert founded Peachtree Dive Center in 1991 with a unique business philosophy. His vision was to create an environment where individuals interested in learning to SCUBA Dive could do so in a professional, comfortable and FUN atmosphere.

Robert realized during the beginning of his instructional career that in order for students to learn effectively they need several things:

  1. Knowledgeable Instructors – who truly enjoy what they teach
  2. Environment that promotes learning - (whether in the state-of-the-art classroom or indoor heated pool)
  3. Effective Training Materials – that stimulate interest for the underwater world.

Robert has insisted that all three of these factors be present at Peachtree Dive Center.

He also understands that "Customer Service" is what makes a business thrive and be successful. His "try it before you buy it" idea was viewed as ridiculous by many in the business, and as he began to promote comfort and safety among certified divers by opening the pool free of charge for skill review, many continued to question him. Both ideas have proven time after time that today, with disposable income harder to find and with internet competition, a traditional retailer must be anything but "traditional". Robert became a PADI Course Director and Emergency First Response Instructor Trainer in 1992. He is qualified to teach over 20 different PADI Specialty Courses. Robert retired in 1999, after a 27-year career as a Police Officer with the City of Atlanta. Robert has continued his business philosophies with the expansion of an additional store in the Florida Keys. In 2001, Robert became a United States Coast Guard Master Captain and can often be found behind the helm station of any number of boats in Key Largo, Florida.

Kim Carawan

Kim is a Course Director, Emergency First Response Instructor Trainer and teaches over 13 different PADI Specialties. In 1997, Kim became a partner of Peachtree Dive Center. Kim attempts to fill the size 11 shoes of Robert, while he’s in the Keys, by following their shared business philosophies and overseeing instruction, inventory and the business ends of Peachtree Dive Center and the expansion into the Florida Keys. Kim can be found most days at the dive center, except when she escapes to the Keys in search of her treasure (Robert).

You can reach Kim directly at


Dixie the Dive Dog joined the staff of Peachtree Dive Center in December 2006 as a small three month old puppy. In just a short time, she has become an integral part of the dive center in her capacity as a mascot. With her tolerant & gentle manner, you can find her greeting guests at the front door, entertaining kids with her multiple toys, or just laying around waiting for the next show of attention from customers. She is even patient as staff dress her up and get her ready to go diving. When she is not at "work", you are likely to find her doing what most chocolate labs do...hunt for her favorite toy duck, swim in anything muddy, and catch her Frisbee.

Tom Ridgway

Tom is a seasoned instructor of Peachtree Dive Center and has been teaching since 1991. He is a PADI Master Instructor and PADI Emergency First Response Instructor and also teaches over 15 different PADI Specialties including a distinctive Manatee Awareness Specialty. He can be found at the dive center most evenings teaching or just "hovering" around with other divers. Looking for him on the weekends? Better go diving, especially November thru February he can be found in Crystal River with the Manatee. He is our resident Underwater Photography Guru so bring in your pictures for a little constructive critiquing.

Chris Hirsch

Chris is a familiar face around Peachtree. She has greeted many divers as they enter the store, or been a wealth of knowledge in the selection of equipment. Chris began her diving adventure in 1990 in Lancaster, PA and finally traded in that cold water diving for the warm tropical diving of the south. As an Instructor, you might find Chris behind her underwater camera or just "hovering" around.

Gary Hirsch

Gary is an Instructor with Peachtree Dive Center. Since his retirement, you can often find Gary (with wife and dive buddy, Chris) traveling to exotic destinations, like the Cay Sal Banks, Nekton Liveaboard, Cozumel, the Florida Keys or even Crystal River. Gary is trained and certified to service every major product line that we carry at Peachtree, so if you have an equipment concern... Gary is the one. You can call Gary almost anything, but just don't call him late for diving.