The Hammerhead/Gearkeeper Story
Home/About/ The Hammerhead/Gearkeeper Story
The primary success of Hammerhead Industries has been built on quality products that work.
From the start, the first products were put in use to solve fundamental problems which existed in SCUBA diving — gear protection and gear attachment. These products were not developed as something that could possibly be sold, but as products that worked and solved problems.
The concept of Retractable Gear Attachment Systems was developed based on the key chain holder idea — but designed for gear, severe environments with high break strength & durability. Grab Your Gear, Use It, Let It Go – It Retracts Back Every Time is our slogan because it makes whatever you’re doing easier, while preventing loss and/or damage to your valuable gear.
The original concept of Gear Keepers for SCUBA tools (flashlights & consoles) has developed into a wide range of retracting products for Fly Fishing, Outdoors & Hunting, Fire/Rescue, Industrial/Safety, Law Enforcement & Military. Each application has its own set of criteria; saltwater, high temperature, or special mounting or attachment needs.
In the SCUBA diving market you will see Gear Keeper products private labeled for companies such as Aqua-Lung, Cetacea Diving Products, Genesis/Akona, XS Scuba, Princeton Tec, Innovative Scuba Concepts, Dive Rite, Poseidon and Apollo as well as the Gear Keeper brand. We also do OEM applications for many companies in the Fire/Rescue market such as MSA and Bullard and in the Outdoors market for companies such as Browning– if you have a custom need please contact us.
Every product that Hammerhead Industries produces has been tested by people in the industry. If it does the job, we will produce it. If not, we won’t. As with all companies, the customer is our lifeblood. We need to do everything possible so that every customer is satisfied and impressed by our products and service. Our business has been built on this philosophy. Hammerhead will grow and improve by continuing to solve gear attachment problems, upgrading our product line and providing excellent customer service. The consumer, dealer or distributor in the industry is our judge. It is most important that we listen to them. It’s the only way to improve ourselves, whether it’s the product itself, how it is packaged, how it is distributed, how it is advertised, or how it is serviced.
We stand behind our products for complete customer satisfaction
If you have a problem, feedback or suggestions we appreciate hearing from you.
Please e-mail us at
or call us at:
Hammerhead Industries, Inc. was started by two friends; Ken Collin & John Salentine who spent a great deal of their free time, SCUBA diving off the coast of Santa Barbara, California back in the early 90’s.
When not performing SCUBA instruction, they spent their time scratching lobsters out of the rocks at the Channel Islands.
SCUBA Gauge Protectors Got Us Started
Ken’s need to protect his new dive computer (which were new to the market) from scratches and abrasions while crawling over the rocks resulted in his creation of a plastic lens to protect the dive gauge face (Gauge Protector).It took Ken many long nights of machining high quality lenses on a CNC machine at his Dad’s company and then forming them in a toaster oven on a beer can before he got it right. Those first finished products where distributed to the SCUBA market through Cetacea Diving Products.
As volume increased, our manufacturing processes grew. We now have our own CNC machines and no longer use a toaster oven, but we do still drink beer on occasion. Although after-market Gauge Protectors are now a “buggy whip” (since most dive computers now incorporate a lens protector), we like to think we were instrumental in the improved gauges that are sold today. See our current Gauge Face Protectors
Finding a Better Way to Hunt Lobsters
Ken & John’s next adventure was coming up with a better way to secure their flashlights while lobster diving. When attached to your wrist with looped lanyards, they would interfere with the hunt because they’d catch on rocks or hamper dexterity.
The idea of using an off-the-shelf Key Retractor was brought up in conversation (probably over a few beers) and then was put to the test in the open water. The good news; it worked pretty well underwater. The bad news; it only lasted one dive. But, the idea was born! You could grab your flashlight and use it, then let it go and it would retract back to your body, well out of harms way. It wouldn’t catch on coral or rocks either. And so another quest began.
Ken and John spent the next couple of years developing a retractor that would not only survive saltwater, but clean itself by flushing out sand and debris. It also had to possess a very high break strength and be durable enough to withstand the punishment of SCUBA diving. The result was the RT1 series retractor – code named SCUBA KEEPER.
Produced in a garage while Ken and John both held down full time jobs, the product was private labeled for Cetacea Diving Products and after two years of production, the need to go full-time became obvious and Hammerhead Industries was born. It was the spring of 1995 when Ken and John quite their jobs (gulp) and moved their operation from Santa Barbara six hours north to Foster City, and into space they subleased from Cetacea. Ken, his cat Arty, and John and his black lab Nitro literally lived and worked in that space 24-7. They showered at a nearby health club where they both worked out. But they were entrepreneurs, and they were on their way.
Gear Keepers Are Born
Over the next couple of years, Hammerhead was strictly an OEM manufacturer creating two new retractor platforms; the RT2 Mini series and the RT3 Locking series (which replaced the original RT1). Seeing the need for industrial-strength gear and instrument retractors in other areas, Hammerhead created the Gear Keeper trade name and introduced products for the Fire/Rescue, Fly Fishing, Outdoor/Hunting, Trucking, Industrial, Law Enforcement and Military markets.
Our Own Headquarters and Our First Patents and Trademarks
By the summer of 1999, the need for expanded manufacturing space and capability, along with growing Bay Area costs, sent the guys looking for a better location. They found it when they moved to their current headquarters in Ventura, CA. It’s been a long road, but the results are have been very rewarding. Hammerhead Industries, Inc. is now the premier maker of Gear/Instrument retracting and tethering devices. They own the Gear Keeper, Mic Keeper and Add-A-Clip trademarks and multiple patents are either issued or pending.
It’s been a long process, but our vision has always been clear. Create a company of closely knit individuals who take pride in their work and their relationships within the company and whose primary goal is to provide customers with a quality product at a fair price. It’s been very satisfying to respond to our customers and make them happy.
Today Ken and John are still the primary driving force at Hammerhead but they work with a great group of individuals who share the same philosophy and dedication to our customers. Ken focuses his time on the engineering of new products and keeping manufacturing rolling. We take great pride that Gear Keeper Retractors are still manufactured in the USA. John focuses his time on selling, marketing and keeping the books in balance. Their friendly rivalry continues; can manufacturing push sales or can sales swamp manufacturing. However, they work in unison to deliver products to their customers on time.
We thank you for your support and interest in Gear Keeper Products and if there is anything we can do for you, please give us a call.
Hammerhead Industries, Inc.
5720 Nicolle Street
Ventura, CA 93003 USA
Tel: (805) 658-9922
Fax: (805) 658-8833