Global Surf Industries - brand history
Global Surf Industries start business in June 2002. The 19th of June to be exact. The goal from day one was to be a global company, that’s why the Global is in the name. The company started with its Australian Operations for and in Sept that year kicked off the US operation.
Back in 2002 surfboards were still a cottage industry in many ways. We wanted to bring surfboards into the modern era. Mark Kelly, one of the original founders, had a history of product, marketing and sales management and International companies like adidas, Ray Ban and Surf Hardware International ( FCS ). He used this experience to build the platform that would launch the business around the global.
The initial product offering in 2002 / 3 was pretty tight. 7 Surfboards ( 7S ), Modern Longboard & Blue Surfboards were the first three brands that the company started with. Those three brands made in impact into the marketplace, enough to confirm that the business model was solid and Surf Shops around Australia and the USA would support the brands.
From there in 2003 GSI was offered the distribution of NSP surfboards. South Point Longboards and Sunset Softboards were added to the mix.
In 2005 three things happened. Firstly, GSI did a licencing deal with an Australian Surfboard Designer, Gary Loveridge ( Wizstix Surfboards ) for a board he had designed which GSI named the 7S Super Fish. Gary was paid well over a million dollars in royalties for his design. This board went on to be one of the most popular boards in the history of surf retail with over 80,000 sold over the years. Secondly, the brand portfolio grew to add Watercooled Surfboards ( by Kym Thompson ) and Super Soft Surfboards. Finally, GSI started to appoint distributors around the world. Europe, Israel, The Philippines, Japan, UK and other countries.
In 2006 GSI was approached by some well-known surfboard designers to licence their brands and sell them around the world. Walden Surfboards ( Steve Walden ) and Webber Surfboards ( Greg Webber ) joined the list of brands that GSI would manufacture and distribute. This was a huge step for both the surfboard brands and for GSI. For the first time surfboard designs would be available around the global without the designer having to make them.
In 2007 GSI signed an agreement with Al Merrick ( Channel Islands Surfboards ) to distribute a brand the two businesses created called – Anacapa – named after one of the islands in the Channel Island group off Santa Barbara. This brand was short lived as Burton purchased Channel Islands Surfboards in that year. Burton closed the agreement down and Anacapa was gone in less than a year.
In 2007 year GSI also trademarked the company mantra “Life is better when you surf”.
In 2008 GSI again added to the brand portfolio with the iconic Australian brand McTavish Surfboards after the then owners, Ben Wallace and Ben Harper reached out for help to take their brand around the world.
This year GSI also started to distribute the Hang Up Systems hangers. In this year GSI also registered its iconic Surfboard in the Global Logo.
In 2009 things continued to progress. Aloha Surfboards joined the brand portfolio and Stand Up Paddling started to become popular.
GSI also did a licencing deal with a unique Surfboard designer called Thomas Meyerhoffer. Thomas had worked for Apple before starting his own design consultancy. His scalloped contoured rails and elongated tail design had many chins wagging.The board won some design awards but in the end failed to be accepted by the surfing public.
GSI also started the Trident Paddle brand through the demand created for the paddle boards.
In 2010 GSI teamed up with 2009 Surfer Magazine Shaper of the year to product an Epoxy Finless Surfboard called the Tuna under the brand The Seaglass Project.
The Meyerhoffer brand introduced more models in progressive but edgy designs.
GSI started to distribute a brand of tough Epoxy boards call Surf Series these were budget orientated boards designed mostly for the rental market.
One of the highest profile events of 2010 was the launch of the collaboration between 7S and Sea Shepherd. GSI produced a 7S Super Fish 2 in the Sea Shepherd branding. Royalties went to Sea Shepherd to keep one of their ships, The Bob Barker, in the southern ocean for a whole season.
In 2011 GSI did a couple of interesting things. Firstly, Gnaraloo Softboards was born. It took over from Super Soft and some GSI brand softboards that they had started to sell.
They also introduced a soft version of the Wegener Finless Tuna called the Albacore. The Albacore won and Australian Design award this year.
The biggest news of 2011 was that GSI had signed a licencing agreement with Hayden Cox and that GSI would distribute the Haydenshapes brand globally with their Futureflex Carbon EPS Epoxy technology.
2012 saw the Haydenshapes Hypto Krypto take off with the popularity making huge waves around the world. The shape seemed to be the universal answer to everyone wave catching needs.
GSI started their whole owned operation in New Zealand April 2012.
During 2012/3 GSI had a brief affair with SoCal Surfboard designer Bill Stewart. Bill approached GSI to help extend his brands reach around the world. GSI also started the rental focused and molded epoxy brand 3 Palms this year.
Also in 2012 GSI signed an agreement with Turbo Bodyboards. This deal turned out to be a disaster and was short lived. The bodyboard market was way more saturated then our research showed and take up of the brand was ordinary at best.
2013 Modern Surfboards is born as the amalgamation of Blue Surfboards and Modern Longboard.
GSI also created the Adventure Paddleboarding range of SUPs.
In Sept 2013 GSI signed a Licencing and distribution agreement with 2 time world champion Tom Carroll to create a line of SUPs.
In 2014 Haydenshapes Hypto Krypto wins Surfboard of the year in Australia and the USA. Sales boomed globally in the tens of thousands. It was an amazing time.
In this year due to public demand GSI started the Surfica range of Surf accessories. Also in this year GSI ended its distribution of NSP and South Point Longboards.
In 2016 Josh Constable, Creative Army Surfboards became port of the portfolio. Josh was the Longboard world champion in 2006. His youthful nature and passion for design helped his brand fit into the GSI portfolio nicely.
During 2017 McTavish decided to focus its business around the custom board program made in its Byron Bay facility and ended their agreement.
GSI also signed a licencing deal with Superbrand from SoCal in the USA. This lasted about 18 months until the clothing brand folded and ceased operation.
During 2018 Mark Kelly, reached out to the fledgling Women’s in water apparel brand Salt Gypsy’s founder Danielle Clayton with the idea of creating a women’s design focused surfboard range. The two business owners hit it off and went to work on the project. A 4 board range was developed and launched. The idea resonated with women around the world who found that the boards suited their needs and performed extremely well. One of the shapes the Mid Tide went on to jointly win the Surfboard of the year award in 2020 in Australia.
ON top of this GSI had another forey into the performance market with a licencing deal in place with Chilli Surfboard. This was short lived with the GSI ending this agreement in early 2020 as the company realigned its focus on the Beginner to Intermediate Market catagories.
Early in 2019 Haydenshapes and Walden Surfboards ended their licencing agreements with GSI to go in a different direction.
In 2020 GSI approached The Critical Slide Society to create a collaboration similar to the Salt Gypsy line. These negotiations ended up with Global Surf Industries purchasing the Trade Mark for Surfboards from TCSS and launching the surfboard brand around the world.
GSI today focuses its product design and marketing efforts on the beginner to intermediate surfer and Paddler. Their goal is to create product that people that help people enjoy surfing more through being on the right product to help them progress in their confidence and ability.
Over the past 21 years GSI has sold just over a million boards in over 74 countries. It’s an amazing ride that continues to personify the company mantra Life is better when you surf.