Interview – Jarrod Gibson, Launching JG Boards

When we heard a few weeks ago that world renowned shaper Jarrod Gibson was launching his very own board company – JG Boards – we knew we had to learn more about Jarrod’s project, boards, team riders & new business and contacted Jarrod for an interview. Jarrod has been shaping some of the best boards in the business for years and years, working closely with the world best shapers, companies, factories & most of all pro riders to get them the best rides they could get. Jarrod has experience in shapes and boards that only a handful of shapers can have. Enjoy the JG interview and learn more about Jarrod’s new board company:

Hey Jarrod, how are you? So you’re launching your own board company hey?
I’m good thanks mate. Been a really busy year & now officially launched my own label.

It’s been one of your dreams since your started shaping kind of? Specially after seeing both Mez and Todd Q. starting their own brands years ago maybe?
Yeah for sure. We’ve all worked together for many years on various projects. While we’ve collaborated with the brands I was never that focussed on launching my own brand, I was focussed on the shaping and production so I didn’t have the time to build something that was 100% mine. We’re all good friends so it’s never been too much of a rivalry so to speak, we’re all excited to see our brands succeed and grow.

You started shaping many years ago with Mez at the Toobs Oz factory back in the days yeah?
Yeah I actually started with Mez when I was still in high school. He’d just opened the Mez Boards factory in our local region and back then there weren’t a lot of good boards that were under 40″ so I went to see him about getting a custom board made. I was a kid in a candy store! When we had the opportunity to do our work experience program I’d asked Mez if I could do it with him, from that point I knew I was never going to do anything else. He actually gave me straight A’s so I was pretty proud. I’ve still got the report card.
When I left school I started the very next day, February 2nd 1999 with Toobs Australia / Mez Boards where I worked closely with Todd until he launched his QCD Boards label in 2004

Jase Finlay

Jase Finlay

Are your stock boards made at the Broady / Mez factory?
Yes my boards will be produced from Broady Asia. I spent some time there with Mez in September working on the new line and I’m absolutely stoked on the new models. I think there will be a lot of happy customers when the new line launches.

Where do you work from and shape custom boards now? Coz you where working for Agit for a while?
Im still based in Australia however my custom program won’t start again until 2016. It’s not a focus of mine right now, I want to make sure the production is the best it can be which Im confident that we’ve achieved that with Mez and the team. The 2016 customs will be pretty exciting with some big plans for it on an international scale so Im looking forward to developing that program over the coming months.

So who’s on the team apart from Jase Finlay?
Yeah Jase is now on board which is amazing. I’ve got a lot of respect for Jase in every aspect of his career, he’s one of the most professional athletes I’ve ever worked with. We met earlier this year and talked about the new direction of the company and what we want to achieve. He was amped to be a part of it ASAP.
Along side Jase we have Tahurai Henry from Tahiti who needs no introduction. He is someone I’ve wanted to work with for a few years now. In Europe we have Miguel Adao from Portugal, the kid has a lot of potential and has a great attitude.
Winston McCall from Parkway Drive is also representing the label, he’s had a lot of input to the new models which is super cool. It’s amazing to see his passion for Bodyboarding and he absolutely rips.
We’ve also got Lee Bendall from the Gold Coast, the local legend that has a phenomenal style. He makes Bodyboarding a pleasure to watch.

What can we expect from JG Boards in the near future? Innovations and new shapes?
There’s some big plans for the future but it’s step by step at the moment. The line is focussed on the best templates that have worked over the years with my riders with compositions to suit high performance surfing.
In regards to new technology and innovations we will definitely be working on some new things. Especially for Tahurai with Teahupoo. We’ve been working on some specialty board designs for next years season. I think we will see him pushing the limits again to new levels.
We’re also in the process of creating new programs and clinics to assist in junior development. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for many years and now I have the opportunity to pursue the new direction of the company. We don’t want to be just another brand in the market and having a diverse community aspect to our brand is exciting.

The industry and sales in Oz (and actually in the US and Europe also) seem a little bit low and unstable at the moment but that doesn’t seem to discourage some new projects like your brand. Do you reckon there’s also a place for new brands and projects while some others disappear and it’s sort of a cycle as brands fade while others rise and the strongest ones stay on top?
For sure there are some hard times however, and unfortunately it is the sports cycle. It happens every 5 – 10 years where there is a few major changes to the industry, markets and sport in general. It’s always hard to watch people and brands disappear from the sport however that’s the nature of business. If you’re not evolving as a company it becomes unsustainable. We’re looking to do things a little differently and use our experience to grow the sport and industry.

Lee Bendall - Shot by: Kieran Tunbridge

Lee Bendall - Shot by: Kieran Tunbridge

The sponsoring and money given to the athletes in general seem to be a little low at the moment and the World Tour is not as attractive as it was, resulting in a weird era where top riders seem to struggle with sponsorships and turn their back on the tour, how do your riders or yourself see the business and the current situation?
It’s been a difficult time for a lot of the athletes since the demise of the IBA Tour. It’s taking some time to rebuild the structure and events however Alex and his team are doing a great job with the resources they have. It’s also great to see the Free Surf World Tour launch which I believe has some huge potential to attract some big sponsors in the future. Our sport thrives in heavy waves and conditions, 2016 could be a very big year for the sport again. While riders have struggled to secure significant contracts there are many reason for this but again, retail has seen some big changes over the past 5 years and we as an industry also need to evolve.

All boards, shapes and materials nowadays seem to be a little bit the same (mainly due to the fact that they all come from 2 factories mainly) apart from custom boards or smaller brands like Toobs who still produce locally, do you think there is still room to bring new things and innovations to the market that would be exclusive to your brand? A lot of time the new stuff is shared across all brand made by one factory or the other and there is very little difference between each brand’s products apart from the marketing put into it and the riders. What do you reckon?
That’s a yes & no answer. Boards can and do look very similar, but you look at any industry and the basis of the products are generally the same. The basic compositions give you a platform to create a product, any product. Brands and manufacturers then utilise different materials, foam densities to meet the demand of their customers. While the boards might look the same I can assure you they are not.
There’s a lot of exclusive innovation across the brands in our industry. NMD uses Parabolic cores, Pride uses Radial Flex, Found has their Torsion Stringer, Hubb Boards have Quad Core, Science uses Compression Cells. There’s variable stringer systems and interchangeable stringer systems. So there’s a great deal of innovation happening at the moment and there will continue to be major innovations over the coming years.
For sure it’s great to see a few small companies that are still producing, it’s awesome for the sport and the industry. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to remain viable though as generally the MOQ’s for the materials to build boards are significant.

Will we see a Jase Finlay pro model very soon and maybe other pro models too? Have you started shaping new boards for Jase and what does he currently ride?
Definitely. Jase has a signature line that coincides with the existing range. Again we’re doing things a little bit differently where Jase’s model is available in all compositions across the range. We have some new boards heading his way as we speak. It’s coming into Summer in Oz so we have some variable flex boards & ISS customs ready to go as we can have big changes in water temperatures. It’s a big country too so depending on the locations he’ll be surfing we need to be prepared for that.

Is the Oz distribution all set up now and boards will be in shops around Oz soon? and do you know when the rest of the world will be able to buy your brands from local shops?
Still in development. Im working on the program now and will be meeting with my retail accounts over the coming months. We have boards in production now with our sampling and prototypes all locked in. We want to ensure the new website launches in conjunction with the first shipment to Australia so it’s work in progress.
Internationally we will be launching mid 2016 however the range will be available online for international orders from day one. Im pleased to announce distribution has been confirmed for all major regions: Australia, Europe, South America & North America. We’ll also be selling into Japan and some Central American countries.

Many thanks for your time Jarrod and congrats again on your new business!
No problem. Thank you for the support.

Theo – Editor

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