The Lobster Inn story must start with its inventor, Mr. Fred Garlick. Fred was an avid outdoorsman most of his life. He dearly loved lobster season and would diligently plan for his annual, 4-6 week trip to Islamorada, in the Florida Keys to enjoy the heart of the spiny lobster season. His love for lobster hunting led him to seek out ways to more efficiently find and capture Florida lobster. The most successful of his many ideas morphed into what became known as the “Lobster Inn” - a lobster catch bag that allows ‘Guests to Check Inn but Not Check Out’. In 1978, the U.S. Patent Office awarded Fred a patent for his unique lobster catch bag.
The patent became the basis for the formation of ‘Garlick Manufacturing’, a small company Fred formed and operated out of his home garage space to build and sell the Lobster Inn catch bags. He started out small, selling well less than a hundred in his first year (mainly to his friends and neighbors). However as soon as the public became aware of the unique catch bag they began asking for it by name at the local dive shops, which in turn led Fred to build and sell his lobster catch bags to dive shop distributors to avoid having to deal directly with so many dive shops. Within a few years, Fred was making and delivering over 3500 catch bags per year. During some of his best years, his sales reached nearly 5000 units. The manufacturing of Lobster Inn’s became the joy of Fred’s life for many years.
Twist of Fate
Unfortunately, in the fall of 2012, Fred contracted cancer and became unable to make his beloved Lobster Inn catch bag. When a couple of his friends, Bryant Walker and Paul Nassar, found out that Fred was unable to keep up with orders to his distributors, they stepped in and learned how to manufacture the Lobster Inn under the watchful eye of Fred himself. They learned to produce the catch bags at a rate sufficient to keep up with the orders and while learning the manufacturing process, became enamored with making this unique product. Regrettably, in September 2013 Fred lost his fight with cancer and went home to be with the Lord.
Knowing Fred was greatly concerned about what would become of his beloved Lobster Catch Bag business, Bryant Walker bought the business from Fred with the promise he would do everything possible to keep the business thriving. Bryant bought the business in August of 2013 and made it part of another business (Keystone Synergistic Enterprises, Inc.) he co-owns with his partner, Raymond Walker. In 2014, they began doing business as Keystone Dive Products and made the lobster catch bag a division of the parent company.
The transition from the garage facility of Garlick Manufacturing to the engineering and manufacturing facilities of Keystone has not been without its issues. However, the Keystone owners persevered and today, not only manufacture the Lobster Inn, but also have developed three new products known as the Shellfish Inn, the Lionfish Inn and the Lobster Inn Pro (formerly known as the La Grande Lobster Inn). The Shellfish Inn is a smaller catch bag designed for hunting scallops, clams and stone crab primarily for those hunting on the West Coast of Florida. The Lionfish Inn is a unique device allowing divers to harvest Lionfish without fear of being stung by their venomous quills, a very painful experience for those not using the Lionfish Inn. The Lobster Inn Pro is a larger version of the standard Lobster Inn for those hunting the ‘big ones’ (7-lbs. and up) which are much more prevalent from Ft. Pierce north along the East Coast of Florida.
More recently, Keystone Dive Products started producing their own, uniquely designed bags made of denier nylon and mesh to minimize puncture of the bag from the needle like spines of the lobster, yet letting water easily flow through the bag. Keystone manufactures their family of hunting gear here in America. We employ local people and thus create local jobs. Additionally, Keystone Dive Products not only sells directly to Dive Shops, but also offers their products for sale to the public.