Paul Teutul Sr.’s name lies at the top of every bike enthusiast’s list of the best creators of custom bikes. Since 1999, three things have remained constant about Teutul Sr.; his signature horseshoe mustache, his love and enthusiasm for bikes, and his dedication to the creation of solid, strong, well-designed, and classic custom bikes. His son, Paul Jr. has followed in his father’s footsteps. Together, the father-son duo created custom masterpieces for years before their infamous fallout, after which Paul Jr. started his own operation and became his father’s fiercest competitor. Years after the showdown, let’s catch you up on what the two are doing today.
Orange County Choppers – OCC
In 1999, Paul Sr. expanded his steel business into a custom motorcycle manufacturing operation in Montgomery, New York State. He made a name for himself in the bike business later that year, when he launched OCC’s first custom bike dubbed “True Blue” at that year’s Biketoberfest in Daytona. With that one entry into the festival, bike enthusiasts took note, and before long, television networks were knocking on Paul’s door offering him prime spots to show his craft. He relented in 2002, and accepted an offer from the Discovery Channel to show the workings of OCC on a show dubbed “American Chopper.”
“American Chopper” debuted in March 2003, and aired for five years on the Discovery Channel before it was moved to TLC, and eventually canceled in 2010. Its premise was simple – it showed Paul Teutul Sr., or senior as he was referred to in the show, Paul Teutul Jr. or Junior, and some staff working on custom bikes. While it was clear that Junior had inherited his father’s eye for design and love for bikes, the two argued incessantly. Often, their arguments were passed off as typical banter, but the root cause of the disagreements was evident. Father and son had different approaches to their work, and their management styles were complete opposites. It was only a matter of time before the two fell out, permanently.
The Great Fallout
One morning, Junior got to work late, as usual. His tardiness was a constant source of friction between him and Senior, but Junior insisted that it did not matter when he got to work as long as he made sure to finish all his work within the required time. This time, Senior was not having it. A livid Senior called Junior to his office ready with a list of complaints. Amidst a litany of curses from both parties, Senior read out Junior’s contract, which stated that the young Teutul was required to be at work by 7 and be back from lunch at 12:45. Junior responded in his typical dismissive drawl, insisting that he got his work done regardless of when he clocked in, sending his father down a tirade that ended with him firing his son. As soon as Senior asked his son not to return the next day, things got physical. Both parties started to throw chairs around, shocking their employees who lurked outside the office, but stayed out of the way as Junior walked out of OCC for the last time.
To viewers, the fallout between Junior and Senior was a typical disagreement that the two would address. However, as Senior would realize, he had put a large dent in his relationship with his son. He poured salt on the gaping wound when he sued Junior, asking the court to prompt the young Teutul to sell his 20% stake at OCC since he no longer worked there. He lost the lawsuit, and with it, his relationship with his son. The two went without speaking for ten years, despite appearing in an “American Chopper” spin-off together. Fortunately, Senior and Junior have now started to rebuild their father-son relationship and are hoping to repair the trust and camaraderie they once shared.
The Student Surpasses the Master
Junior decided to venture out into business on his own after his parting from Senior; as per his contract, he had to wait a year for his non-compete clause to expire before venturing into the custom bike industry, so used the year to plan his strategy, then after a year, he became his father’s competition. It was not lost on fans that opening and running his own business would require Junior to get in early, work through lunch, and work late; which are the sacrifices he refused to make when working with his father. Clearly, he was willing to put in the time to be at par with the veteran in the industry.
After establishing his business, “Paul Jr. Designs,” Junior was approached with a proposal to go head-to-head with his father for a television show. He rose to the challenge and started to compete with his father to determine which company created the best custom bikes; only this time, the two were competing on equal footing. Junior held his own quite well, earning the respect of the biking community and emerging from under his father’s wing to create a name for himself.
For the finale, father, and son set their differences aside, and created a masterpiece by pooling their talent, eye for detail, and strict quality guidelines. The show was put on hold but the duo reprised their respective roles in 2018 and again in 2020 in a special that had them collaborate to design a chopper for their final client, after which the OCC garage in Montgomery, where it all started, was demolished, closing Senior’s chapter in New York State.
Away from the rivalry, “Paul Jr. Designs” is thriving. Junior secured a partnership with an entertainment company to create choppers for a web series. Under the collaboration, Junior’s company created bikes for “World of WarCraft,” the videogame. Junior’s excellent craftmanship earned his company a second collaboration with Paramount Pictures. His company built two custom bikes for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”
Needless to say, Senior did Junior a favor by firing him, which allowed him to pursue his passion for motorcycles on his terms and scale the chopper industry to the top within a decade of venturing out by himself. Paul Jr. is thriving in Montgomery, New York, where he runs his business and lives with his wife and son.
Bikes in the Tropics
While Junior’s star soared after the great fallout, Senior’s luck changed for the worse. He fell into financial and legal trouble when his business partner took him to court, claiming that Senior had channeled capital meant for business expenses and expansion to his personal accounts. He was sued again for refusing to pay a local business $30,000 towards custom work on one of his cars. Senior was also in trouble with the IRS, for failing to pay taxes on a restaurant he’d opened in Newburg, New York State. Unable to meet all his financial obligations and pay all his creditors, Senior filed for bankruptcy, closed shop in Orange County, and moved south to Florida for a new beginning.
Senior now lives in Florida. He maintained his business name as “Orange County Choppers” despite moving it away from Orange County. Although the shop’s scale is relatively smaller than the facility he had acquired in New York, Senior is building a great business in Florida. He’s combined the custom bike business with the “OCC Road House and Museum,” where patrons enjoy great food and music, look at the masterpieces he creates, and purchase merchandise.
With Teutul Senior and Junior in different parts of the country pursuing their own interests, the dream of seeing the father-son duo united and creating masterpieces together again is fading day by day. However, there is a glimpse of hope for the fans of the dynamic team since, as Senior revealed in a recent interview, he hopes to reunite with his son and work with him on a passion project. Don’t hold your breath!