Paul Teutul Jr. looks beyond budget numbers to build both his new brand and client trust… and he realizes that the TV exposure had a hand in his success.
In Rock Tavern, NY, a small shop opened for the design and manufacture of custom motorcycles. What separates this shop from many others like it, is not only its regular appearance on a hit television series featured on the Discovery Channel, but the individuals responsible for turning it into a successful and popular brand.
When it comes to building a successful brand, those involved need to have an extreme passion, innovative imagination, a limitless amount of determination and confidence, and a sense of creativity. It is these characteristics that Paul Teutul Jr. from Paul Jr. Designs (PJD), continues to demonstrate on each of his new projects.
Paul Jr. started building custom motorcycles (choppers) in his father's shop, Orange County Choppers (OCC), which soon became popular with the debut series of Discovery Channel's "American Chopper". For years, father and son built uniquely and innovatively themed bikes for companies and organizations across the nation. Paul Jr. became synonymous with the company by creating and manufacturing the majority of the bike designs and creating the iconic OCC logo.
In 2009, Paul Jr. left OCC and started his own design company. After a year of non-compete with OCC, he decided to open his own shop for building and manufacturing custom motorcycles. Despite the bad tension that resulted from the split, Paul Jr. wanted to overcome the circumstances and try to be seen as an individual.
“In a way, you’re forced to break away from something you had a love affair with in a sense of creativeness,” explains Paul Jr. “You have to turn your back on what you worked so hard on for all those years and start over again. We also had to prove to the world that we could do this without OCC.”
When PJD opened its doors for operation, GEICO, an auto insurance company, signed on as the company's first client, believing PJD could build them an innovative bike. “[GEICO] started the chain reaction of clients and gave us our shot,” says Paul Jr. “Once we got that door open, I knew what we could do for our clients in terms of what they are looking for.”
Paul Jr. explains how PJD is brand oriented and understands the expectations of each client that requests a bike. “Each bike has to look as if the company built it themselves, but they also have to convey the message that surrounds each company. It’s not just about motorcycles; it’s about understanding branding and marketing.
Paul Jr. also discusses how failing to understand clients implicitly and the message that they are trying to get across, decreases the value in the bikes. It’s about building relationships and maintaining those relationships to maintain the value in the end product.
Exchange of Exposure
Building a brand can also be very expensive and Paul Jr. doesn’t know how some people do it strictly by themselves. He recognizes the value that television has had on his success, but also the relationships that he has built and maintained with his clients.
“We have a lot of the bigger equipment because we work out deals with the companies to get the exposure,” says Paul Jr. “It’s all part of the give and take; it’s not free equipment. It’s the exchange of exposure, so there is a value exchange.”
PJD has worked out deals with popular companies such as Flojet, Haas, FARO, and Lincoln. It’s a no brainer for them. It’s the best marketing they can have to grab the attention of more potential consumers for the brands and products that they sell.
Equipment of Success
The top equipment that PJD uses for most of its designs comes from FARO, Flojet, and Haas. The FARO arm plays a critical part in the design process, and is used on every single project that PJD takes on. It helps with the 3D drawings and obtaining the perfect dimensions for each bike.
“We use it for building gas tanks, modifying frames, in our sheet metal work, and in any kind of machining,” says Paul Jr. “We will actually FARO it and then Flojet it, then take it from the Flojet and put it in the CNC machine and machine it.”
Before the FARO arm, PJD had to measure everything by hand and program it into the Flojet, which was a very inaccurate and imprecise way of doing things. The FARO arm allows them to get the exact measurements of the material and images that they are working with.
“The biggest thing about it is it saves us time, which helps us with the taping of each show,” explains Paul Jr. “We are under such time constrains due to the show that if we didn’t have the FARO arm, we couldn’t do the level of work we do in the amount of time we are allotted. In some situations, it actually cuts our time in half”
PJD just finished a bike for the 9/11 memorial, which Paul Jr. describes as one of the company's most important bikes that they have ever built. Working in collaboration with Tishman Construction, a company in charge of building one of the towers on site, Paul Jr. explains how the motorcycle encompasses the entire scope of the World Trade Center Project.
“It was awe inspiring and carried an awesome responsibility on our part,” says Paul Jr. “We built the bike to be a sculpture and pay tribute to 9/11. It speaks of the resiliency of America and the new beginning that the new towers represent.”
PJD has also been involved in a three-way build-off with OCC and Jessie James. “We are being pushed to our limits with design and creativity,” explains Paul Jr. “Our innovation is at an all time high because we don’t settle for the norm. We like to be way outside the box.”
Focus on Theme
Paul emphasizes how well PJD does theme building, which is where the theme of the bike takes priority over everything else, influencing frame dimensions, paint scheme, and the overall 'feel'. It enables PJD to continually change their designs and direction, and helps them keep things fresh and new. "To be able to build a bike as if Cadillac or GEICO built it themselves, is not an easy thing to do,” says Paul Jr. “To actually have the entire bike reflect who the company is, is a very difficult thing to do. We are able to really understand the client and capture who they are all inside a two-wheeled vehicle.”
Paul Jr. also states how the company’s creativity is not limited to just designing and building motorcycles. PJD understands the concept of branding and design, and innovation is at the forefront of what the company is about. "We are going to keep expanding beyond motorcycles, because we won’t settle for anything but the absolute best,” claims Paul Jr.
Building the PJD Brand
Paul Jr. credits his success to everyone giving 100 percent every single time. He also thinks television plays a huge role in the success of brand building. “Especially in this economic situation, if we didn’t have television to offer, then it’s less likely we would have the same level of success. I have to put out 110 percent for every client if I want my brand to be successful.”
Paul Jr. also discussed how each build does not have a set budget. He's willing to pay whatever it takes to get the job done to the client's satisfaction. Paul Jr. looks past the numbers so he can continue to build his brand and maintain the relationships with the clients he builds bikes for, because that is what is most important to him.
“Building the PJD brand has required a lot of energy, but we have a great team,” says Paul Jr. “It takes the entire team and their absolute best to make the PJD brand possible, and successful. It’s the everyman brand, so we want it to be accessible to everyone, not just the big clients.”
Photos Courtesy: Dino Petrocelli Photography