In the world of chopper-style motorcycle construction, Paul Teutul Jr. has already made his mark. His iconic designs impressed motorbike enthusiasts each year in the Daytona Bikerfest along with other bike builds displayed in the Orange County Choppers booth. His motorbike building was chronicled in the reality-television show, “American Chopper” for several years. When he parted ways with his father, Paul Sr., after a controversial fight on TV, he established his own brand, PJD Designs. Since then, prominent companies commissioned him to construct signature-themed bikes for them. After successfully flying solo for 10 years, he surprised everyone when he introduced a new division into his growing business, PJD electronic bikes, and by 2021, he unveiled his first designed e-bike. With his creativity and ingenuity, people couldn’t wait on what else Paul Jr. has to offer in 2022.
- 1 Get to know Paul Teutul Jr.’s early beginnings
- 2 Paul Jr.’s motorcycle-constructing history
- 3 Paul Jr.’s reality-TV stint
- 4 An update on Paul Jr. this 2022
Get to know Paul Teutul Jr.’s early beginnings
Paul Michael Teutul Jr. has been referred to as Paul Jr. or Paulie since the day he was born, to differentiate him from his enigmatic father, Paul Teutul Sr.
His father was just about a year into peddling his welding skills aboard his pickup truck to their local neighborhood in Montgomery, New York, when Paul Jr. was born on 2 October 1974. Paul Jr. along with his three siblings Daniel “Dan,” Michael “Mikey,” and Cristina was raised in a middle-class working environment, but with an alcoholic father. His mother, Paula Teutul, was a very supportive wife, as she held the fort at home while her husband strived hard to uplift the family’s finances.
A difficult situation at home
Being the eldest, Paul Jr. witnessed most of the struggles that his father went through battling alcoholism and drug use for years. His mother requested his father to get treatment and enter a rehab many times over, but Paul Sr. at that time believed he couldn’t afford to waste time away from his business, until he was eventually convinced to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings instead, after having a serious accident in 1985. Paul Sr. worked on it for nine years and never missed a meeting, and by 2009 he was sober. Unfortunately, his marriage didn’t survive past 1995, and they were divorced.
Drug and alcohol addiction during his teens
The situation at home was a recipe for disaster for a teen like Paul Jr., and he tried hard to cope with it by becoming a born-again Christian at the age of 12. However, he also succumbed to the lure of drugs and alcohol, but fortunately steered himself back onto the right path, and entered a rehabilitation center at 16 years old, saying that his mom became his inspiration and guiding light through this phase.
Education and iron welding training
Paul Jr. knew growing up that he would be involved in his father’s business. He started his apprenticeship when he was 12 years old at the Orange County Ironworks, the company his father founded in 1986 after saving enough money. All his summers were spent doing odd jobs in the workshop, and improving his welding skills – he already knew the basics of welding since he attended a vocational school course through the Board of Cooperative Education Services in New York.
His hard work paid-off, and his father promoted him to supervise the railing division of the business when he became a fully-fledged employee.
Paul Jr.’s motorcycle-constructing history
One of the things that Paul Jr. shared with his father with intense passion was the love of motorcycles. During his spare time, he would design and fabricate motorcycle parts. Paul Sr. was impressed with his son’s skills, so when his ironworks business was already doing great, he left its management to his son Dan, and asked Paul Jr. to establish a new one with him.
Designer and Fabricator at Orange County Choppers (1999 – 2008)
In 1999, Paul Sr. invested in another business called Orange County Choppers (OCC), and made Paul Jr. a partner by giving him a 20% share of the business. Through trial and error, Paul Jr. learned to properly construct a motorcycle by himself in two years, with the help of other fabricators and mechanics from the OCC crew. He then became creative by designing themed motorbikes thereby helping the shop gain recognition in the local motorcycle-building community.
To market their wares, OCC started participating in bike conventions, including the annual Daytona Bikerfest in Florida. Popularly called “Biketoberfest”, motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the world gathered together to celebrate their two-wheeled lifestyle for four days. The top custom bike fabricators and builders brought their most impressive builds to display, and lure people into either buying or commissioning a new build.
Launched two businesses Paul Jr. Designs (2010 – present), PJD Studios (2012 – present)
After Paul Jr. was terminated from OCC in 2008, he wanted to establish his own company, Paul Jr. Designs, but needed to abide by the one-year ‘non-compete clause’ in his contract. In 2010, he opened his motorcycle-building shop in Montgomery, New York, located near where the Orange County Ironworks stands. Being on his own gave him the freedom to create anything he wanted in his own time, unleashing what he felt had been suppressed when he was still in OCC. He also created a clothing line associated with his motorcycle builds.
In 2012, he expanded his business by launching PJD Studios, offering logo design, marketing, and branding services. Since Paul Jr. and his team made their brand successful from the ground up, they were equipped with the right tools and skills to offer their services to other company start-ups, or those wanting to rebrand themselves. They now have branches in New York and Los Angeles.
Paul Jr.’s reality-TV stint
The popularity of Paul Jr. started when he became part of Discovery Channel’s series, “American Chopper.” It was the best platform for him to show his skills as a designer and fabricator.
“American Chopper,” the reality television show
The Teutuls were apprehensive at first when Pilgrim Films and Television, a production company for Discovery Channel, reached out and offered them the chance to star in their own reality-TV show. The offer was surreal for Paul Jr., as he vividly remembered how he watched Jesse James from “Monster Garage” in his booth during “Biketoberfest”, surrounded by many fans asking for his autographs.
Six weeks after they received a call from the production company, they completed filming the pilot episode of “American Chopper.” It was aired on Discovery Channel in September 2002, and they were absolutely floored by the interest it generated from the public. The ratings were high enough for network executives to order part two of the pilot episode, which was aired in January 2013, to check that it wasn’t a fluke. It topped the ratings against rival TV shows within the same timeslot, so the cable network ordered 29 episodes for the first season, and it easily became one of the most-viewed TV shows. It lasted for six years, and spawned two spin-off series: “American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior”, and “Orange County Choppers.”
Fired from Orange County Chopper in 2008
Fans weren’t surprised by the volatile relationship that Paul Jr. shared with his father. From day one, viewers witnessed the explosive arguments between the two, which the producers captured and shared during the pilot episode, which the Teutuls thought would end up negatively for them.
However, those episodes between the two was one of the reasons why people loved to watch the series. The show’s producers believed the personal drama made the show more realistic and authentic.
Paul Jr. was fired by his father in September 2008, after a huge fight on TV about his tardiness. The old man said he’d enough of his son disrespecting the working hours, while Paul Jr. said that what mattered most was that at the end of the day, everything got done. He reminded his father that they were partners in the business and also stressed that if it wasn’t for him, ‘the shop would have been burned to the ground.’ Out of frustration, he threw an office chair in his father’s office, and that led to his termination.
A modified contract for “American Chopper” and a lawsuit from his father
When he was fired from OCC, naturally he wasn’t seen on “American Chopper,” but Discovery Channel found a way for him not to violate the TV contract that he’d signed with them, by modifying it.
He continuously filmed without his father on the same set, as an independent contractor. After fulfilling his TV contractual obligations, he eventually left the show after that season. However, his problem with his father didn’t end there.
When his contract was modified, it was also agreed that his father was given the option to buy his son’s 20% shares in the business. Paul Sr. had the company shares appraised, and it was said to have zero value. He then demanded his son return the shares which Paul Jr. refused to do, and filed a counter-claim lawsuit against his father. The old man won the case in the lower court, but the son won in the Appellate court, which declared the buyout option invalid.
A spin-off TV series with Paul Sr. in 2010
Since both companies attracted so much interest due to the lawsuit, the TLC network, Discovery Channel’s sister channel, took advantage and offered Paul Jr. and Paul Sr. a spin-off series called “American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior.” Since they weren’t expected to film together, they both agreed, as the premise of the show was to construct motorcycles separately to outdo one another.
The TV show documented the rivalry between two shops, PJD and OCC, and lasted for four seasons in the span of two years, premiering in August 2010, and ending in December 2012. However, the relationship between the two became even more fragmented during this period.
Their farewell show, “American Chopper: The Reboot”
Paul Jr. and Paul Sr. tried to maintain some kind of relationship between them, even if they weren’t really on speaking terms. They were again persuaded to star in another TV show together – doing “American Chopper: The Reboot” in 2018 was a win-win situation for both of them. Marketing-wise, it helped both their businesses as they reached a new audience, especially by staying relevant in the world of chopper-style motorcycle building. It was also a way for them to confront their issues by being together. They both knew that they loved each other, but couldn’t manage a business together.
Paul Jr. said that he wanted to work with his father again through the show, as a way for him to bring back the fun into their relationship. The timing was right, because at that time he was already a father to a little boy, and it made him be more understanding of his father. During the press interviews before the TV premiere, Paul Jr. was quite subdued and more at peace with himself, which was a far cry from the angry, bitter person in 2017, who wrote in his book, “The Build: Designing My Life of Choppers, Family, and Faith,” that his father was a monster.
After being on TV for a couple of seasons, they aired their final episode in March 2019. Both father and son said that the 15 episodes they did together were sufficient enough for them to achieve a certain calmness in their relationship. Due to its popularity, Discovery Channel tried to convince them again to do a show in 2020, but both begged off and instead agreed to do a two-hour special, aired in August 2020.
In the beginning, they all thought it wouldn’t push through as Paul Sr. requested that Paul Jr. shouldn’t participate in the design aspect of the motorcycle, but his son didn’t contradict his father as he only wanted to spend quality time with him one last time. Paul Jr. gave his father total control of the project and everything went smoothly.
An update on Paul Jr. this 2022
Despite the restrictions and health protocols that the government implemented during the pandemic brought by the Covid-19 virus and its variants, Paul Jr. has been busy with many projects.
The Next American Innovator
Paul Jr. held an online competition, starting in August 2020 called “The Next American Innovator.” He wanted to give talented bike builders a platform on which to show their skills, and so motorcycle and car customizers around the US were invited to join. Their entries were judged for their originality, design creativity and innovation, by motorcycle experts/enthusiasts such as Freddie Brewer, Adam Sandoval, Ari Henning and Zack Courts, along with his longtime friend and former colleague Vinnie DiMartino.
Round 1: 125 CC and Underclass competitors had two chances of winning the contest. One was hailed as the Judges’ Choice and the other was the People’s Choice as a result of public voting. The winners were announced in October 2020. Round 2 of The Next American Innovator will commence in 2022.
The PJD Electronic Bicycle
In March 2021, Paul Jr. was beaming with pride when he unveiled through his YouTube account the result of his collaboration with popular e-bike manufacturer Ruff Cycles. He knew that not everyone could afford or ride a motorcycle, and so he incorporated his design into an electronic bicycle. It took him only three months to build his first themed eBike called The Ruffian PJD-E, after reaching an agreement with Pero Desnica, the founder of Ruff Cycles in Regensburg, Germany; the collaboration went smoothly through a series of zoom video calls.
His first eBike was modeled after one of his best bikes called the “Build-Off 2”. Paul Jr. was quite happy that it could be displayed alongside his other custom-bikes in his garage, and made available exclusively through his New York shop in the US, and Ruff Cycles in Europe. In 2022, for about $6,500, with a delivery time of eight weeks, a bike enthusiast can enjoy the best of American innovation and design, with German engineering.
A new branch in 2022
It was reported back in January 2021 that Paul Jr. and his wife had found their dream house in Long Beach Island in New Jersey. After a few months, Paul Jr. shared that a retail space located at the Boulevard in Ship Bottom was being renovated to house his builds. In August 2021, he said that his wife’s boutique, Oliver Anne, would occupy the next-door space so that their businesses would be closer to each other. However, he never disclosed if the New York shop would be closed, so for now, the one in Long Beach was being regarded as a new branch. A few months before 2021 ended, he again shared an update on his new branch, saying that progress was slow but steady. Everyone should expect it to be ready by the spring of 2022.