KISS Rebreather Team
Mike Young – Owner, Product Manager
Growing up in the mountains of Colorado, Mike Young’s childhood was nothing short of unique.
Back in September, 1974 Erwin and Lynne Young moved from Post, Texas to Alamosa, Colorado with their four children, Mark, Mike, Sherri, and Jay. Erwin learned the warm (87° F) geothermal water available on his 80-acre farm was ideal for raising tilapia. Soon after that Erwin added alligators to the farm as a means of disposing the remains of the filleted fish harvested. Once news got out about the gators, the Young family was soon thrust into the spotlight of many media programs and articles. Growing up with the saurian beasts, Mike and his brother Jay, were the only ones old enough to work with them for the eager public who wanted to see them, marking the beginning of the Colorado Gators Reptile Park in 1990.
Growing up as he had, Mike discovered no adventure was too big, taking up other pursuits such as becoming an avid extreme skier, hunter, mountaineer and extreme motorcyclist. Mike learned to scuba dive in the early 90’s and made his first open water dives in a sinkhole on the edge of the Africa's Kalahari Desert. This new experience combined with his passion for extreme sports and wrangling alligators, made it natural for him to gravitate toward technical diving. He was soon performing deep cave dives and his interest in sump diving grew.
On the career side Mike was educated and trained as a tool and die builder for automated machinery in the mid 90's. Among his more notable jobs was with the Hiram Walker distillery, where he designed and built an applicator that would apply a red ribbon and plastic button to 280 bottles of Kahlúa per minute.
Mike’s desire for diving and reaching areas unseen has led him to custom build many of his own products. Through his background in engineering and manufacturing, he had become affiliated with both Hollis and KISS Rebreathers for a number of years. In that time he was influential in the design of a number of diving systems, including the development of the KISS GEM gas extender rebreather.
In October 2012 Mike became the third owner of KISS Rebreathers, moving the entire production facility from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Fort Smith, Arkansas in the USA. With his extensive background in machining, product development, and testing, it was a natural move for him to make, and the right one for KISS which he has since developed the KISS Orca Spirit, KISS Spirit LTE, GEM Sidekick SCR and GS CCR.
In addition to overseeing production and designs for new equipment, Mike’s interest to explore is still very much alive. As a result Mike is a member of the Advance Diver Magazine Exploration Team, as well as the US Deep Caving Team. His exploits include the J2 expedition back in 2010, exploring a system in southern Mexico that is 1200 meters deep and required two days of extreme caving just to reach the water. In 2011, Mike and the deep caving team mapped an underground river system in Puerto Rico that totaled over 23 kilometers in length, making it the world’s longest underground river. Some of the area surveyed had never been seen by human eyes before. More recently, while exploring and mapping submerged caverns in the Yucatan peninsula, Mike also discovered a fully intact Mayan vase dating back 1300 years.
Between Mike’s passion for exploration, and actively working on new concepts and designs to further enhance our ability to explore our world underwater, we expect more great things to come!
Kim Mikusch – KISS Rebreather Consultant, Sales, International Sales (rebreathers and parts orders.)
KISS Rebreathers is one of the oldest continuously operating rebreather manufacturers in the North American and international market, and Kim Mikusch has been with the company nearly every step of the way.
Kim has been scuba diving since 1990 and has been diving the KISS rebreathers and involved in the company since 1999. She has a business background and is a former dive shop owner. As she expanded her personal diving horizons, her interest grew to include technical and rebreather diving. She has also worked in the finance and securities industry. Kim owned and operated both Jetsam Technologies Ltd. (KISS Rebreathers) and KISS Manufacturing Ltd. from January 2006 to October 2012.
When Kim took over the business in 2006, she carried on the KISS line of mechanically controlled rebreathers. She continued with the design and development of the Classic Explorer & Sport KISS, and introduced the GEM semi-closed rebreather in 2011. Kim worked closely with Mike Young, who was in charge of Product Development for KISS Rebreathers, for several years. In October 2012, Kim sold KISS Rebreather’s to Mike and the company moved to the United States.
While Kim was the owner of KISS Rebreathers, she ensured that good business practices were followed, quality equipment and parts were provided, and ensured proper training procedures were in place. She was also instrumental in designing a Quality Assurance program for KISS Rebreather's under the ISO standard as well as making KISS Rebreathers a member of the Rebreather Education & Safety Association (RESA). Kim is one of the officers of RESA and KISS Rebreathers currently holds the position of President. She is located in the Vancouver area of British Columbia, Canada.
Douglas Ebersole – Florida, USA Sales Agent & Instructor
Doug is a professional that knows how to wear two hats, and wear them well. While he is KISS CCR Trimix Instructor and KISS Rebreather’s Florida Sales Agent, he is also first and foremost a Interventional Cardiologist at the Watson Clinic, plus director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Lakeland, Florida.
Like most that grew up during the 70’s Doug’s fascination with the ocean was further peaked by watching every episode of “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” to even catching old reruns of Mike Nelson in “Sea Hunt” causing him to long for the day he could learn to scuba dive. In 1974, at the age of fourteen, Doug signed up for his first scuba diving lesson, thus began a large chapter of his life.
His college years were spent at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. His diving was then limited to summer vacations in Florida and Mexico. After college, it was off to medical school in Miami, Florida, where he was much closer to great diving, but the time requirements of studying medicine limited his time in the water. After medical school, he and his new bride, Carol, moved to San Antonio, Texas, for his training in internal medicine and then cardiology while she was training in radiology. Between the rigorous hours of residency and fellowship and the pressures of being a new husband and subsequently a new father, scuba diving was again put on hold, but only temporary.
He eventually found time to return to diving, and his interests progressed through nitrox and trimix and then on to semi-closed with a Draeger Dolphin, which subsequently progressed to closed circuit rebreathers in 2005 with a Sport KISS. Today Doug dives both the Classic and the Spirit.
While he loves to travel to parts of the world documenting the underwater environment with his camera, Doug also finds a special satisfaction in teaching all levels of diving, the one he especially enjoys teaching is KISS CCR. As long as there is oxygen and sorb available, Doug is on his KISS.
"Coming from a physiology background, I love the simplicity of the KISS system,” Doug says. “It is very intuitive and very easy for divers to comprehend all aspects of the system. Additionally, the small size and light weight like the Spirit makes international travel much easier."
As Doug will sometimes joke his real job, “the one that pay the bills", is his cardiology practice in Lakeland, Florida where he is the Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. Between is medical background and expertise diving, Doug has successfully added both awareness, diagnosis and treatment of PF0’s (Patent Foramen Ovale), a condition in which a tiny hole in the heart’s Atrium has been linked with some SCUBA divers being more susceptible to DCS. Doug has even preformed the procedure to correct that problem on several divers so that they can continue diving.
David Oldham - Mid-Atlantic, USA Sales Agent & KISS Instructor/Trainer
Dave Oldham is a wreck diver, Engineer, technical and Kiss rebreather instructor and Photographer. He enjoys diving on the local shipwrecks along the Northeast US coast, and traveling to dive locations around the world. This includes diving many well-known historic wrecks, and searching for new ones. As an amateur photographer since childhood, he loves combining that hobby with SCUBA diving. He enjoys sharing the beauty of our underwater world, and his love of diving.
"As a wreck diver, CCR greatly simplifies the logistics of deep dives,” he says. “As a photographer / videographer it also improves your ability to get closer to many subjects, and allows you the bottom time needed to get the shots you are looking for. The streamlined, uncluttered design of the KISS reduces entanglement hazards common to wreck diving, while also simplifying the handling of dive and photo gear. The simplicity of the KISS design makes it easy to learn, operate, assemble and maintain. I believe this also makes the KISS less prone to failure. The compact design, light weight, yet rugged construction makes it great for travel."
Tony Howell - New Zealand Sales Agent & KISS Instructor/Trainer
Tony Howell learnt to dive while still in the New Zealand Army temporarily posted to Malaysia. That first dive training was in 1972. In 1975, back in New Zealand, he was awarded his first dive Instructor rating. He is a passionate long serving PADI Course Director (1989) and TDI Instructor Trainer (2003). Tech diving caught his interest in early 2003 and he has dived extensively using Scuba in its various recreational and technical configurations.
As a dive retailer since 2002, Tony understands the need for divers to have top quality gear available to them. He recognized that the CCR was the dive equipment of the future, after all a CCR was first dived in 1878. Now days CCRs are becoming mainstream and training is more thorough. He qualified on an eCCR in 2007 and then upgraded to a KISS Classic mCCR in 2009. He is a TDI KISS Instructor Trainer.
" I just love the simplicity of the KISS CCRs. They are so easy to teach and maintain. I have travelled extensively with my Classic and it has never let me down. I feel much safer on my Classic than I do on tech scuba. A good machine needs to be backed up by excellent Instructors and a solid supportive manufacturer’s infrastructure. KISS has been outstanding to work with and allows me to 100% support my clients in turn ”
Lauren Tabata - West Coast, USA Sales Agent & KISS Marketing
Learning how to swim before she could walk, Lauren Tabata is most at home while underwater. Her childhood was spent in both California and Hawaii, she enjoyed most weekends observing marine life during countless hours of snorkeling and exploring tide pools.
She still finds it hard to believe that she waited until age 24 to begin her scuba diving career. However, once she started diving, it reignited her love for photography and began to consume her life (in a good way). She has since spent all of her free time learning, practicing, and refining her skills above and underwater. And most recently has found passion in cave diving photography.
"Shooting underwater photography is undoubtedly what lured me into the world of rebreathers" she admits, "KISS rebreathers were very attractive with their simple, compact and their history of reliability. The prospect of diving with reduced decompression obligations, no bubbles and warm moist air was a plus!"
As a photographer who already hauls around a lot of gear adding a rebreather to the mix at first sounded like additional baggage fees and security hassle, but after several trips with the KISS Orca Spirit and the benefits it offers the far outweigh the negatives. After diving the unit now over the last year she recognizes the value in the compact, reliable, and easy to set up design of KISS rebreathers.
Amanda Krugen - Southwest, USA Sales Agent & KISS Instructor
Amanda Krugen, born and raised in Minnesota, has spent most of her life around water. She grew up participating in various water activities in several of the 10,000 Lakes Minnesota has to offer. She took a basic dive course in her early 20’s and SCUBA quickly turned into a passion. After spending a few years traveling and furthering her instruction around the world, she moved to Arizona to run a successful business. Although teaching diving is not her primary business, she continues to dive regularly and travel the world.
She has recently found another passion through KISS Rebreathers and has furthered her education again to include becoming an instructor for KISS Rebreathers. Whether it’s shallow tropical reef dives or deep wrecks in the cold water, be sure to keep an eye out to where Amanda might be headed for her next adventure!
“I enjoy the simplicity and the comfort of KISS, not to mention my Spirit LTE is easy to travel with and never fails to impress local crowds. As I get into photography more I also appreciate extended bottom times as well as the ability to get closer to marine life.”
Grant Pearce - Australia Sales Agent & KISS Instructor
Grant Pearce is a dive industry professional with a diverse background. He runs Pine Tank Lodge, a cave divers accommodation mecca near Mt Gambier and also AquiferTec, an online dive store specializing in exploration and technical underwater equipment, including rebreathers.
A veteran Aussie cave diver of some 34 years, Grant has been involved in numerous projects in the Mt Gambier region, the Nullarbor, Tasmania and New Zealand. He has also been involved in numerous filming projects and media exposure events, including tech support on James Cameron’s SANCTUM and Coast Australia documentary – as lead character interviewed by Australian Marine Biologist, Professor Emma Johnson.
Grant mixes his professional interest as a scientist and engineer with his passion for cave diving and his study of karst geomorphology (Hypogene Karst development). For many years he converted and dived his KISS Classic as a side mount rebreather. When Grant heard about Mikes Young’s new prototype Sidekick he saw immediately the potential for the sidekick as the ideal exploration rebreather. Grant dives his Sidekick exclusively on all his cave dives. He also wrote the TDI course on the KISS Sidekick MCCR and was the first endorsed Instructor by KISS HQ and TDI to teach the Sidekick. Grant is also a Rebreather Trimix Diver and Rebreather Instructor.