The Last Word

Justin Scherf Underwater Services Director, J.F. Brennan Company, Inc.

UNDERWATER Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Justin Scherf of J.F. Brennan Company, Inc.

justin sherf

What are your responsibilities at your current job? What about your background?

As the Underwater Services Director for J.F. Brennan Company, I am directly involved with a day-to-day operations of an ever-growing commercial diving program. I am directly involved with management of project execution, policy implementation and client development. Most importantly, I am involved in diver safety. I make sure that industry policies as well as our own are followed by every person in the group, and everyone goes home at the end of the day! I joined the Navy after high school and was fortunate enough to serve my country for almost 24 years…retiring a few years ago as a Chief Petty Officer. I started my commercial diving career in the mid-1990s and was able to work as a freelance diver for many of my beginning years. I finally came to work for Pro-Dive Inc. and mentored with Randy Jacobs for many years. Pro-Dive was eventually purchased by J.F. Brennan Company and that lead me to where I am at today.

How have you dealt with the challenges brought on by the pandemic? How has the pandemic changed the commercial diving industry?

As a company, we had to take a big step back and evaluate our entire company’s safety on a daily basis. We had to review industry changes and directives and mold them into our own COVID-19 best practice policies. We quickly pushed the policies out to the field and trained our crews how to deal with this new challenge. They instantly adapted and performed to the highest level! We also were able to utilize technology more than ever with meetings being held on technologies like Zoom and Teams. The inland market was able to adapt quickly and continue on in some sectors at a record pace. I am hoping the rest of industry will eventually bounce back from this challenge with strength and resilience.

How have you been involved with ADCI?

This will be my first position within ADCI. Over the past fifteen years, I have attended the General Member and Midwest Chapter meetings to stay up to date on safety issues and industry changes. Throughout the years, I have worked with board members to assist with the updating of new policies in the safe practices manual that relate to the inland market.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career in the industry?

I have had the pleasure of working on some amazing projects with some amazing people. On these projects, time and time again we were asked to come up with new and better ways to get the job done and with the help of the amazing divers around me, we rose to the challenge and always got the job done. I can also say some of the friendships that I started when I came in the industry 25+ years ago are still going strong to this day!

What types of issues are most prevalent in the industry now? How would you like to see ADCI approach these?

Making sure clients know exactly what they are getting when they hire an ADCI contractor is so important to the development of the market. Making sure the clients know all of the factors involved when hiring a commercial diving company can be very frustrating for the contractors. There are so many contractors out there that will cut corners and not follow the rules, and the client may not know they are cutting corners until an accident occurs. With the help of the ADCI, additional educational content should be created that would be focused for industry clients that will help show them dedication to training and the additional safety factors that we implement daily. This content can be pushed out to many platforms that will not only help the individual contractor, but it could potentially help the ADCI to grow.

Where will the industry be in 5 years?

I think the industry will continue to push ahead with safety as the number one goal on every jobsite. I think there will be a resurgence in the offshore world with new developments in the offshore wind industry. This new industry as the potential to create work for not only offshore but inland and coastal companies as well. The Consensus Standards will continue to be updated frequently and pushed out to all governing bodies for its adoption into their own programs. Personally, I would like to see the advancement of technology-assisted vision for divers becoming something more than a fantasy, I feel technologies such as this will continue to push commercial diving to the next level!