AFTER 44 years in the surfing industry, Michael Cundith - one of the unsung heroes of local surfing - is retiring.

He's closing down his factory and moving onto greener pastures ... at his local golf club.

As he and his partner Toshie Nobuhara Cundith close up the factory for the final time and ship out the last orders for his custom-made boards, Michael admits he will miss the creative chaos of a thriving surfboard factory and showroom.

"I am going to miss this place. It's got our heart and soul built into it after all these years," he said.

Originally from California, Michael began surfing at the age of 12, cutting a long board in half and surfing on the front half, before going on to build surfboards for all his friends.

In 1967 he created Wilderness surfboards in Santa Barbara, surfing constantly with the likes of George Greenough and perfecting his designs.

FAREWELL: Michael Cundeeth and Toshie Nobuhara Cundith shutting up shop.
FAREWELL: Michael Cundeeth and Toshie Nobuhara Cundith shutting up shop. Christian Morrow

He moved to Australia in 1971, travelling on the same plane as another recently retired Byron surfing legend, Roy Meisel.

Once here he worked with Coopers Surfboards in Coffs Harbour, then San Juan Surfboards with Nat Young in 1971 and then with Sky Surfboards.

Initially owned by Geoff Hears, who is still a local businessman, Michael started at Sky Surfboards as one of the first surfboard shapers alongside Nat Young's brother, Chris Young.

Sky Surfboards went on to become one of the biggest names in the surf industry, employing many renowned shapers including Bob McTavish, George Greenough, Greg Melhuish, Gary Timperley, Chris Brock, Daryl Bulger, Dana Woolfe, Chris Young, Neil Cormack and Andrew McKinnon. Michael eventually took over the business, which became MC Surfboards which he ran with his wife Toshie and their two sons.

His design expertise will not be completely lost as he will continue to produce one-off custom boards from the Munroe surfboard factory in Byron Bay.