Paul Teutul, Sr., has seen his share of adversity but has persevered and now is one of the most recognizable faces in the motorcycle industry.
I hear it all the time. Many people think they know Paul Teutul, Sr., by virtue of what they’ve seen on the popular TV show American Chopper. And many of the comments I hear are negative as people make rash judgments based on what is sensationalized by TV producers. But if you really want to get to know the man affectionately known as ‘Senior,’ I suggest you read ‘The Ride of a Lifetime, Doing Business the Orange County Choppers Way’ to find out that the person behind the successful custom motorcycle building business that is OCC isn’t that much different from you and me.
Senior may be the masthead of a multi-million dollar company now, but that wasn’t always the case. He’s had to overcome a lot of adversity. Paul, Sr., lived through a rocky childhood with an abusive father, stating that “my whole childhood basically set me up to be dead or in prison.” He waged a battle with booze and drugs for 20 years, a battle that more people lose than win. When Senior says “It’s never too late to start making the right choices,” he speaks from experience. He hasn’t always made the right choices, but has shown the strength and resolve to put past mistakes behind him and learn from them. In the book, Senior reveals a vulnerable side that isn’t always emphasized on TV, and after reading about his struggles, a new-found respect for the man materialized.
This respect emanates from the fact that he is a hands-on owner who was self-taught. In fact, he didn’t start out as a custom bike builder at all. He made a name for himself initially in the iron working and steel business. But after a trip to Daytona for Biketoberfest opened his eyes to the potential of custom bike building and a challenge from his buddies to build such a bike was issued, it was ‘Game On.’ Senior began by studying motorcycle magazines to familiarize himself with current trends in the industry and to see what he liked and didn’t like in a custom bike. Long hours spent in his basement creating his first modern custom motorcycle would follow. The result of his hard work, the motorcycle, called True Blue, would debut at the 1999 Daytona Biketoberfest, serving as the ‘in’ Senior needed to make a name for himself in the custom-bike scene.
The book is written in a conversational tone and is an easy read. It is a guide to the principles that one man has used to become successful in an environment where many people fail. The color photos in the middle of the book break up the text and show many of the custom bikes we’ve seen built before our eyes on American Chopper. Be sure to check out his Merchant Marine photo and see how much he and Paulie looked alike when Senior was young.
Motorcycle USA got a chance to fly to New York to ride OCC’s production motorcycles and talk to the Teutuls.
‘The Ride of a Lifetime’ is filled with more practical than sage advice. Themes like hard work, getting organized, being true to your word and surrounding yourself with good people transcend the business environment and are tenets that can be applied to everyday life. In the book’s pages, you’ll find out that Senior is a straight-up, hard-working man that doesn’t mince words and expects everyone around him to work as hard as he does. These are the same impressions that I came away with after getting a chance to interview the Teutuls and hang out in their shop all day when I traveled to New York to ride their first wave of production motorycles.
The parts that you see on TV that are true? Well, he does yell, but the majority of the time it’s all show. Is he hard-headed? Yes. But he’s been around the block a few times, so his opinions aren’t without merit. Is he hard on Paul, Jr., and the crew? Yes, but if you read the book, you’ll find out why. At least from Senior’s viewpoint. (Read ‘My Son Paul’ on page 119) Is he a saint? Far from it. But he is someone who is hard-working and charasmatic, who’s done something with his life even though everybody expected him to fail, and is a father who obviously loves his family. He’s also passionate about what he does. And for the last ten years, that passion has been Orange County Choppers.
The Ride of a Lifetime, Doing Business the Orange County Choppers Way
Retail Price: $24.95