Way Back Wednesday: When G&S was the S#!t

By on September 24, 2014

Not sure what’s become of G&S, the old surf and skate company that seemed to dominate surf and skate mags in the 1980s, but I certainly don’t see much of the brand these days. Yes, it’s still out there but it’s just not as hip with the kids as it was for 30 years from the early 60s into the early 90s. Maybe it went the way of the quasimodo, or simply sold out like other companies from the era, such as Ocean Pacific and Hang Ten. Of course both Op and Hang Ten regretted selling out, and tried to get back into the game as recently as NOW, but it’s just not the same. Both brands lost their luster. Same with Gordon and Smith. It’s just not as cool as it used to be. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s just kind of odd. In the mid-80s G&S had one of the sickest skate teams on earth, with guys like Chris Miller, Ken Park, Eric Nash and Neil Blender repping the brand and taking it to skateparks the world over, as well as to the bank. Fortunately for the G&S brand as a whole, retro is in style and the company is still selling boards (more surf than skate) and making a name for themselves, but rather than with the groms, it’s more for the older crew, aka, Old Guys Who Rule, who are reliving their childhoods through the G&S brand. And that’s pretty cool, even though the youth of today might not think so.

History of Gordon and Smith, as told on the Gordon and Smith website
Larry Gordon and Floyd Smith forged a close friendship in the mid 1950′s while surfing together. This led to the creation of a surfboard company which became a brand with worldwide recognition.

In the late 50′s most surfboards were shaped from balsa wood. The boards were heavy, hard to maneuver, and easily became waterlogged. Polyurethane foam was a new and ideal material soon to become cutting edge. Larry, a chemistry
student, was able to source the foam chemicals with help from Gordon Plastics, his father’s family business. With no surfboards available within 50 miles, Larry and Floyd built a mold and began blowing their own foam and building surfboards. By the winter of 1959, the demand for their foam surfboards forced a move from Floyd’s Pacific Beach garage into their first legitimate surf shop. Gordon and Smith was born and would become one of a small group of individuals to pioneer the Surf Industry.

In the 60′s Gordon and Smith became one of the leading manufacturers in the industry. Many legendary teamriders and shapers had joined forces with G&S which helped them carve out a niche for the company in a time when surfing was defining an era.

In 1965 Floyd moved to Australia to start Gordon and Smith Surfboards on that continent. This expansion brought the innovation and quality of G&S to Australia and provided design innovation in return, plus a new loyalty from around the globe. Floyd returned to the U.S. in 1969. Two years later he sold his part of the business in order to pursue other interests. Today Floyd lives in Northern California.

The late 60′s early 70′s experienced the beginnings of the short board revolution. Always staying current but never sacrificing integrity, Gordon and Smith was able to successfully lead this progression of change to become, at that time, the world’s largest surfboard manufacturer . Few of the other established manufacturers survived this transition with the extinction of traditional longboards. During this time Gordon and Smith also become one of the largest, most successful skateboard companies and one of the first to sponsor professional teamriders. Skateboarding exploded as the company sold 500 Fibreflex skateboards per day with a 6 month backlog and skaters became overnight superstars.

In the early 80′s Gordon and Smith began producing surfwear primarily for the specialty stores. This was highly successful through the 80′s and 90′s. G&S has continued to produce top quality surfboards throughout the decades and has come full circle with its current line of modern performance funshape and longboard designs built with over 4 decades of experience.

Larry Gordon still owns the business, still surfs, and is looked upon as a legend in the surfing industry. His ability to stay true to his vision of 1959 by perpetuating innovation and staying relevant to today’s lifestyle, is one reason Gordon and Smith has stood the test of time.

” Knowing our past, in that we have served millions, gives continued vision for our future”.
Larry Gordon

About Skip Snead

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