Jack Candlish of Verdure Surf is shaping a sustainable future

When Jack Candlish found surfing he also discovered how unsustainable the boards were. So he made sustainable ones.

Jack Candlish, founder of Verdure Surf, wearing a wetsuit and holding a surfboard next to a dog wearing a swimming vest.

From cash flow reports to surf reports

For Jack Candlish, being out on the waves with his surfboard was a kind of therapy. It helped him get away from the stresses of everyday life and gave him a much-needed connection to nature.

So, when he found out that the surfboards he was using were made up of carcinogenic, non-biodegradable and non-recyclable foam, his therapeutic escape became tarnished.

“These boards aren’t built to last or with any consideration for sustainability, and for me surfing was all about having some time away from the industrialised world,” says Jack. “But I was sitting on a board that was a product of that and it just didn’t sit right with me.”

As an active, impassioned person with a background in industrial design, Jack set his mind to a solution. He initially just wanted to make the boards stronger so they wouldn’t break as frequently, but as he looked into materials he learnt more about wooden surfboards – and decided to start making boards.

“The first one didn’t go very well,” says Jack. “So I made another and another and then I became obsessed.”

The more time Jack put into the surfboards, the better they got and after a while he decided to throw himself into it completely and his businesses, Organic Dynamic and Verdure Surf were born.

Jack putting one of their wooden surfboards in a rack of other surfboards of various sizes.

Jack uses paulownia, a fast growing, self-regenerative tree to create his boards.

Community and sustainability

For Jack, creating a sustainable brand means supporting the local community and keeping the carbon footprint of his surfboards low.

He works with local entrepreneur Richie Moore, who started Poly Palace, a polystyrene recycling operation rescuing non-biodegradable polystyrene from landfill and transforming it into usable sheets. Jack uses these to fill the centre of his boards and sends any offcuts back to Richie to be reused again.

He also works with local dairy farmer Graham Smith who grows paulownia, a fast-growing, self-regenerative tree in the Waikato. The paulownia acts as an effective drainage solution for the herd’s effluent, and is light, strong and doesn’t rot in water – making it perfect for Jack’s surfboards.

“When it comes to sourcing materials I have a hierarchy of requirements: performance always comes first, then environmental, then manufacturing and cost,” says Jack. “I don’t think there’s any point in developing a sustainable solution if it’s priced outside the market, so I’m all about making sustainable solutions accessible and comparative in price.”’

Jack looking at his Xero accounts on his phone, as seen from over his shoulder.

Investors and managing the finances

What started out as a hobby has rapidly turned into a growing business, and interest from investors is at an all time high. Using Xero has been really helpful for Jack when it comes to demonstrating that Verdure Surf is a successful business with staying power.

“When it comes to raising capital the investors want to see financial projections and having those reports available in Xero means I can clearly show what I can do by myself, and what I can do if I take on three production staff,” says Jack. “It’s great to have all that at the touch of a button.”

Jack is a seasoned Xero user, having been put on it by his accountant when he started his first business in 2009. And at the moment he does all his accounts himself.

“When I started doing it myself I was surprised at how easy it was. I probably spend about five minutes doing my GST returns and a couple of hours a week doing invoicing,” he says. “Xero shows you how your spending affects everything, and you can adjust business to try and reduce those unexpected expenses a bit.”

Jack behind the counter of his Verdure Surf shop, on the computer while his dog sits looking at the camera.

Jack’s workshop makes it easy to switch between sanding boards and sending invoices.

Growing the business

Jack is putting in a lot of time and energy to get the business just right, so finding a good work/life balance can be tricky, but knowing where the finances stand and that investors are on board has meant Jack’s been able to think more seriously about the future of the business.

“I want to create a cool little Kiwi brand that’s synonymous with surfing and sustainability,” says Jack. “I want to get that model right, demonstrate the commercial viability, licence the technology and work with global partners to sell it overseas.”

With investors now on board, expanding the business is something Jack can start planning for, but in the meantime he’s really enjoying seeing the impact he’s having on customers and the local community.

“When you sell someone a board and you see them out riding it and they’re fizzing, it’s amazing,” says Jack. “If I can remind people what surfing is all about and give them the same – if not more – joy out of it then it’s all worth it.”

If I can remind people what surfing is all about and give them the same – if not more – joy out of it then it’s all worth it.

Jack Candlish — Verdure Surf

You can learn more about Verdure Surf on their website verduresurf.com.

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