Individual genius and corporate effort: it's a tricky marriage at the best of times.

In the case of Firewire Surfboards and Bert Berger, the marriage didn't take. Early this week, a bland press release was issued by Firewire, stating that Berger was "no longer with the company".

Both parties remain tight-lipped about the split. Yet information from SURFING's sources suggest that the marriage had been souring for some time.

Berger is an idiosyncratic genius among boardbuilders, who'd spent most of his working life experimenting with foam/wood/epoxy sandwich construction techniques. Firewire was initiated after Nev Hyman visited Berger in Western Australia, where Bert had recently closed up shop after 15 years of small-scale production.

Hyman and his partners, including surf businessmen Dougall Walker and Matthew Perrin, had big plans for the Berger technology – plans that received a kick along in the wake of Clark Foam's closure in late 2005.

The ideas Berger brought to Firewire caused an immediate stir and resulted in Bert being chosen as SURFING's Shaper of the Year for 2007. Firewire swiftly expanded, employing around {{{90}}} people on three continents

But the demands of major production are radically different from those of a smaller, two or three man operation. Neither side was happy with the role Berger had played within the company. Big projects Firewire had placed Berger in charge of hadn't worked out, and Berger was upset at some of the company's production streamlining methods.