In 1953, twin brothers Bill and Bob Meistrell co-founded Body Glove when they designed the first practical wetsuit. Almost 60 years later Body Glove is one of very few family owned surf/dive brands in the world. It all began in a pool in Booneville, Missouri.
Bill and Bob were fascinated with the water. When they were 14 years old, they fashioned their own diving helmet out of a vegetable can and a tire pump. One explored the bottom of a pool reading magazines while the other held the air pump on the surface.
The Meistrell family packed up and moved to Manhattan Beach in 1944. Bill and Bob immediately fell in love with the ocean. They soon began surfing as balsa boards caught on and they were among the first to glass the nose of their foam-filled plywood boards. During their time at El Segundo High School the boys bought a dive helmet for $25 – it was cheap because the previous owner died while using it. Marching all over the breakwater (while donning the helmet) opened up a whole new world for Bill and Bob.
After graduating from El Segundo High, the Meistrell twins became full- time lifeguards. Shortly thereafter, the brothers were drafted into the Army. Bill was sent to Korea while Bob was transferred to Monterey. Bill earned a Bronze Star for his service in Korea while Bob remained stateside with the opportunity to serve and to perfect his night surfing in Santa Cruz by car headlight.
In 1953, Bev Morgan offered Bill the opportunity to buy in to his local marine/dive shop, Dive N’ Surf. Bev owned the shop with Hap Jacobs, who later pioneered the modern surfboard. Jacobs wanted out and Bill accepted the offer on the condition that his brother Bob be brought in as the third partner. Bev agreed, Bob and Bill borrowed $1800 from their mother and each bought one third of the business. To keep themselves afloat, the twins continued lifeguarding on a part-time basis. Bob and Bill needed to find a way to combat California’s cold water. They tried everything from wartime electrically heated flyers’ suits to wool sweaters that lasted only as long as they were dry. Finally, in 1953 they discovered an insulating material used in the back of refrigerators. With this “neoprene” the Meistrell brothers fashioned the first practical wetsuits. Their new innovation helped them buy Bev’s share of the business in 1957, and Dive N’ Surf became the home of “The Body Glove.”
It is this history of innovation and love of the ocean that challenges Body Glove to make products fitting every waterman’s needs. Body Glove is proud to be one of the last family owned dive/surf businesses and pledges to continually build products that enhance and protect us both above and below the water’s surface. Bob passed away in June, 2013.