In February of 2000, AC/DC’s co-founder and lead guitarist Angus Young did an interview with The New York Daily News. The band had just released the album Stiff Upper Lip two days earlier. It was the AC/DC’s 13th internationally released album, and it made No. 1 on the billboards in four separate countries. However, even an internationally successful album from musical legends does not go without criticism. Musical critics lambasted the album for lacking new ideas.
“I’m sick and tired of people saying that we put out 11 albums that sound exactly the same,” Young said to the New York Daily News. “In fact, we’ve put out 12 albums that sound exactly the same.”
Young followed his statement by saying that there was no reason to change a winning formula. The band had found its style, and they intended to stick to it. Whether Stiff Upper Lip was lacking in new ideas or not, it went platinum in four countries, and gold in four others. The following two albums, Black Ice and Rock or Bust, were even more widely successful.
If the success of AC/DC is anything to learn from, perhaps innovation and originality are not all they are cracked up to be. In fact, it seems like creating the same thing again and again is a working business model for Paul Teutul Jr. Teutul Jr. is an American reality TV star from the Discovery Channel show American Chopper. He is featured on the show with his father, Paul Teutul Sr., with whom he originally worked at Teutul Sr.’s company, Orange County Choppers.
In 2009, Teutul Jr. branched off and founded his own company, the custom bike building business, Paul Jr. Designs. The design company continues to be featured on the 2018 reboot season of American Chopper, and sells branded products for the show’s fans, in addition to custom motorcycles for corporate clients.
At best, the bikes from Paul Jr. Designs are identical, and almost un-rideable. However, Teutul Jr. has been designing formulaic chopper-style motorcycles since 2009, and the formula has yielded greater recognition for Paul Jr. Designs and a continuing registrar of impressive clients.
For example, in 2014, Teutul Jr. designed two Azeroth bikes for the hit computer game World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. The two bikes were made to represent the different teams in the game: the Horde and the Alliance. They were briefly used in a weekly web series, Azeroth Choppers, to promote the game from April 17 to June 5, 2014.
In 2016, Teutul Jr. designed two more theme-inspired, chopper motorcycles for the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. The bikes were used in the film, and Teutul Jr. even earned a short cameo as a security officer in the background.
Maybe all of Paul Jr. Design’s bikes are same-style, mid-2000s themed choppers, but nine years later, he continues to pull in huge commissions from equally huge clients. In June 2018, his latest chopper was a corporate commission from garage door opener manufacturer, The Genie Company.
The Genie Company, and the bike it commissioned from Teutul Jr., was featured on the June 18, 2018 episode of American Chopper. Both the production and presentation of the chopper were covered in the episode, “GTO, Bro!” on the Discovery Channel.
The bike, named “the Genie Chopper,” had been a long work in progress. Genie approached Teutul Jr. in the fall of 2017 about building a bike that would reflect “the American heritage of being in business for more than 60 years.” In addition, the design was also tasked with being part of Genie’s marketing effort, and the company asked Teutul Jr. to reflect the Genie’s “innovative leadership in smart-connected, Wi-Fi-enabled garage door openers.” The Genie Company gave Paul Jr. Designs some brand standards to follow, but left the final design completely up to Teutul Jr.
If representing smart garage door opener technology in a motorcycle design is a challenge, Teutul Jr. overcame it. He created a design that thrilled the client, and that he called one of his own favorites. “The wheels on this chopper are some of my favorite wheels we’ve ever made,” said Teutul Jr. “Each spoke was made to replicate the exact pitch of Genie’s patented screw drive technology.”
The Genie Chopper mimics the Genie logo in many ways. The frame of the chopper is the same red hue as the Genie logo, and the company’s patented Genie design hangs over the engine. Further, the Genie name is branded across the side of the bike. Like the rest of Teutul Jr.’s bikes, it is a mid-2000s-style chopper that has resisted vanishing like most other trends from that era.
“Overall, I wanted the bike to feel fast, modern and high-tech, and I think we accomplished that,” Teutul Jr. said.
As far as Genie was concerned, the Genie Chopper reflected the “iconic features exclusive to the Genie brand, and incorporated those features as working components into the sleek, glossy look.”
Teutul Jr. personally unveiled the design from Paul Jr. Designs in front of the Genie booth at the International Door Association’s annual IDAExpo in April 2018. The bike remained on display there for the extent of the IDAExpo before being moved to Genie’s headquarters in Mt. Hope, Ohio. It is still displayed in the headquarters’ lobby.
“We are beyond thrilled with how the chopper turned out, and the opportunity to be featured on the reboot season of [American Chopper] was an added bonus,” says Steve Janas, the vice president of The Genie Company. “Our whole team is truly revved up and excited that we had a chance to align our iconic brand with the notoriety of the Teutul legacy of work.”
Even though Teutul Jr. cranks out same-style bikes for video game companies and garage door opener manufacturers, it pays his bills and continues to generate interest in the designer and his reality TV show. Like AC/DC, it does not look like Teutul Jr. plans on changing his winning recipe any time soon.