Watch: Gen4 carpark tales
"I was about thirteen and I was down here with my mates running amok," explains Jye Gudenswager, now 27-years old, from the sand at Snapper, "and I remember going home to my Dad and saying, 'All my mates want to be pro surfers but I want to make their surfboards'".
"We went and got a blank and down we went into the garage and starting hacking away."
You gotta admire a kid with vision. Who as a precocious tween can already see the path laid out before him.
After finishing school, Jye did the rounds of industry, ghost shaping at JS, Lost, Super Brand, and Chili, learning from the best in the biz before launching his own label, Gen4, at the wise old age of 22.
He spied a gap in the market, selling high performance boards at a lower price point, and leapt right in.
"It's risky," admitted Jye of his strategy to sell a premium product for less, "people think my boards must be made overseas. But they're made right here, alongside many other brands."
It's not easy for a kid to make a mark against the Gold Coast titans of foam, yet the risk is paying off with Jye building up a loyal following amongst younger surfers around south-east Queensland.
Jye has similarly bucked the trend when it comes to marketing Gen4. "For me, it's all about the lifestyle. I love hanging at the beach with my friends, talking to other surfers about boards."
Perhaps you'll pick up on that vibe in the clip below...
One of the mates thirteen-year old Jye wanted to make boards for was Mitch Parkinson. On the weekend Mitch won the Sri Lanka Pro, a QS 3,000 held at Arugam Bay, and Jye is understandably thrilled. "We did so much work on his boards that I was just as happy as he was!"
Mitch was riding a Black Magic II, a slightly modified version of Black Magic, Jye's best seller. "We pulled the nose in, lowered the rails, and added channels." The changes clearly worked with Mitch putting in a dominant performance, posting 4 of the top 5 waves and sealing the win with a perfect 10 in the final.
We've come all this way without mentioning Jye's family. Gen4 is a nod to his lineage, the fourth surfer in the Adler/Gudenswager family tree that dates back to the 1940s and great grampaps Frank Adler making hollow 16ft toothpicks at Maroubra before moving his family north to Queensland.
"Only my closest friends really know about my family," says Jye, who's both proud of his DNA and determined to make it on his own.
Surfing is the family business but Gen4 is all Jye's.
PS: Keen-eyed Swellnet readers might notice the t-shirts!