Sometime around 1952, Jack opened the first Surf Shop in a garage across the Great Highway. He shaped a few balsa surfboards and sold accessories like paraffin wax and a few vests he started gluing together from neoprene. When the vests started selling, Jack decided to go into the wetsuit business. His friends laughed. They asked him what he planned to do for business after the handful of surfers in the area had bought one. Jack said he'd cross that bridge when he got to it.
By 1980, Jack O'Neill's surf shop had morphed into a thriving international company, dominating the world's wetsuit market and one of the leaders in beach lifestyle sportswear in the U.S., Japan, and Europe.