Even if “American Chopper” is known for showing lots of situations unrelated to the bike-building business, the show’s main interest is about what happens with the Teutuls, without forgetting that the work done by their staff is not to be underestimated.
Starting with the designers, through the builders, mechanics and painters, it’s evident that the team behind Orange County Choppers and Paul Jr. Designs are worth watching just as much as the father-and-son arguments which gained the series international fame.
So who are those working on the sidelines to create some of the most famous “American Choppers” bikes, and did any of them have problems with the Teutul family? What’s up with the staff who are no longer in the show? Keep with us to know more about the less known staff of “American Choppers”?
For Orange County Choppers
Despite taking a backseat while the drama between the Teutuls unfolded, the designer and senior fabricator Rick Petko became a fan favorite just by doing his job.
As is known by any loyal “American Chopper” fan, Rick joined Paul Sr’s team back in 2003, but prior to that he had been an avid metalworker for almost two decades.
As it happens, Rick’s early experience in the field goes back to his early youth, when he worked as a crane operator in local Pennsylvania manufacturers, then enrolled into a welding school, subsequently specializing in chassis building for NASCAR. While working for the Pocono Raceway for five years, he also started his own industrial contracting entrepreneurship, eventually furthering the car- and bike-building skills which gained him a place in Orange County Choppers.
After 13 years with the Teutuls, Rick left Orange County in 2016 to fully dedicate to RPD & Co., his own custom metal building business which he’d established in 2006. Although RPD’s main focus was to fabricate race bikes, the company has expanded to custom building other metal- and steel-related products such as knives and even wedding rings, nowadays available on its official webshop. On the personal side, Rick married in 2013, and is now the happy father of two girls.
Another native from Pennsylvania, little is known about Nick Hansford’s early years except that his career in steel-building started when he graduated from the American Motorcycle Institute in late 1990s. He spent his early career working for local manufacturers, until by a chance of destiny, he met Paul Sr at the 2000s Bike Week.
Soon enough, Nick found himself working for the Teutuls as a local contractor in the South. However, in 2002 complicated family situations ended up with him moving to New York, when he officially joined the staff of Orange County Choppers. At the same time, he married his longtime girlfriend Stacie Ferralasco Hansford, with whom he’s still together in 2022.
It seems that long-time relationships are Nick’s thing, as he worked for Paul Sr. until Orange County moved to Florida in 2021. His last appearance in “American Chopper” was in 2019 for the episode “Strikes and Reverse Trikes”, and though he supposedly owns his own garage, little is known about his life off-screen.
We can’t talk about Nick Hansford without mentioning his best pal Christian Welter. Both studied in American Motorcycle Institute, graduating together in 2000, but then taking separate paths for a while. Chris worked in car dealerships for two years, before receiving an offer from Nick to work for Orange County Choppers in New York.
Although the prospect of meeting Paul Sr. was intimidating, he got the job with no problems. As Chris recalled in the book “American Chopper: At Full Throtle”, working for Sr. wasn’t quite as scary as he first assumed: ‘It turns out he’s really cool. He barks a lot, but he’s fair’.
Regardless of not appearing in “American Chopper” as much as we would have liked, his spot in Orange County Choppers was stable until the business moved to Florida in 2021. That being said, Chris seems to have no problem with his former employer, and in April 2022 even went to visit the shop’s old New York basement with some of his former co-stars, as seen on his Facebook page.
Although not a lot is known about Chris’ personal life, his social media tells us that drumming and music in general are his biggest passions besides bikes.
Arguably one of the most prolific designers to ever work with Orange County Choppers, native Illinoian Jason Pohl thought he would join the US Army after high school, but received an August Holland Scholarship totally changed his life, allowing him to enroll in the Illinois Institute of Art, from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003.
Jason’s early career was spent as a video game designer, then passing on to take various small jobs. It was his design of a pinball prototype for Orange County which left Paul Sr. so impressed, that he right away invited Jason to become the shop’s Lead Designer.
Jason’s creativeness hasn’t only secured him a spot in Orange County Choppers since 2004, but also opened doors for him to start his own industrial design agency, which specializes in product prototyping and creation, 3D animations and brand development.
The name Vincent DiMartino is well known by any keen “American Chopper” fan. Vinnie’s beginnings in the car and bike repair field started in his father’s garage, where he learned everything he could before actually getting his first real job at 14 years old in a local New York garage.
Although Vinnie learned his craft in a non-traditional way, his career accelerated after joining Orange County Choppers in 2002, just a week before the Teutuls signed the TV deal which would make their business internationally known. As a builder and mechanic, Vinnie often took an active role in creating some of the most astounding projects featured in “American Chopper”.
In 2007, he left the show and the shop altogether, explaining the reason behind it as ‘the natural progression was to leave and start my own place. Nothing against them, but it was time to move on’.
Following his exit from Orange County, Vinnie worked briefly for Paul Jr Designs, before establishing V-Force Customs, which would later become DiMartino Motorsports, specialized in offering a wide variety of auto services. As well, Vinnie is happily married to Melissa, with whom he has welcomed three children so far. If you want to keep up to date with Vinnie’s whereabouts, he often updates his YouTube channel with tutorial videos of various topics including mechanics, and even food.
Undoubtedly the youngest member to ever appear in “American Chopper”, Cody Connelly started working for the Teutuls in 2001, when he was still attending high school. Given how talented he was as an apprentice, Orange County financed his studies at the American Motorcycle Institute, from where graduated around 2007.
Although he went back to work for Orange County, his time in the shop was short-lived, leaving to join Vinnie DiMartino’s then newly-established business V-Force Customs in late 2007.
As if that fact alone wasn’t drama-inducing enough, in 2009, Cody sued Orange County Choppers for breach of contract and fraud, in addition to allegedly using his image for merchandise without consent.
As court documents stated, Connelly was owed $250,000 for appearing in 62 episodes of “American Chopper”, in addition to not receiving the “Old School Chopper” on which he worked back in 2003, and was told he was going to receive as a gift from Paul Sr.
Unfortunately, it’s unknown what the resolution to this case was, but judging by the lack of information, it’s safe to assume it was settled out of court. Nowadays, Cody is no longer into bike building, and apparently currently works as a classic car seller.
Although Evan Favaro isn’t necessarily in the spotlight in every episode of “American Chopper”, he’s well remembered for appearing in the 7th season as a designer and builder.
Though Evan is quite a new face in the business, he had actually worked for Orange County Choppers from his early 20s, when he was chosen as the shop’s new designer out of 1,200 candidates.
From 2013 to 2016, Evan worked on at least 40 choppers for Paul Senior, as he told the website Motorcycle Culture Hijinx: ‘most of it wasn’t my style, but it was definitely a massive learning experience with great opportunities’. Although Evan considers his time with Orange County as a ‘blessing’, he left the shop for the first time in 2017 to focus on his business Speakeasy Motors, returning to work for the Teutuls two years later after “American Choppers” was revived in late 2018.
While it doesn’t seem that Evan is working with Orange County anymore, and his personal life remains a secret, his business is apparently doing well.
Jim “JQ” Quinn
Despite his lack of screen-time, Jim Quinn also known as JQ is not only one of the longest running “American Choppers” cast members, from 2006 to 2016, but also one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the team. JQ studied Mechanical Engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology, from where he graduated in the mid-1980s.
He then went to work for Imperial Schrade Corp, manufacturer of a wide variety of knives and bayonets. In 2004, the company unfortunately went out of business after a century active, leaving JQ to join Orange County Choppers as a machinist and engineer. In 2016 he leftthe company, and joined a machine tool distributing agency in New Jersey.
Paul Jr. Designs
Given that Paul Teutul Jr.’s business has been featured both in “American Chopper” and in “Senior vs. Junior” since its foundation in 2010, it’s fair to include this shop’s team members as well.
Posted by Paul Jr. Designs on Monday, March 8, 2021
If you have been closely watching the work of Paul Jr Designs since its beginnings, you surely remember the Geico Bike, introduced in “American Chopper” in 2010. However, this chopper isn’t only special for being one of the first builds by Jr.’s business, but also because it let us see Brendon Thompson in action for the first time.
Although nowadays Brendon is known for being a contractor and builder for Paul Jr Designs, in 2010 he was fully focused on Elite Metal Designs, his own steel building agency based in California. Elite’s speciality at fabricating out-of-the-norm tanks made Brendon the perfect addition to create the Geico’s lizard-resembling green tank.
Since then, Brendon has taken an important role in some of the most daring projects in Paul Teutul Designs. While nowadays it’s unclear if Elite Metal Design is active, in 2021 Brendon confirmed on a Facebook post that he’s still working for Paul Teutul Jr.
She joined the Teutul family when she married Paul Jr. in 2010. However, it’s always mandatory to mention Rachael Teutul given how much work she does for the business.
Regardless of not appearing often in “American Chopper” and its follow up series, Rachael has played a huge role in building the brand that Paul Jr Designs is today, both as a Vice President and director of operations. She also owns Oliver Anne Boutique, a Hudson Valley-based fashion shop established in 2014. As well, back in 2010, Rachael and Junior appeared in a “Say Yes to the Dress” episode filmed shortly before tying the knot.
Regarding her personal life, she and Junior welcomed their first son Hudson Seven in February 2015.
John “Odie” Odendahl
While all previous staff members found their own paths whether or not they’re still involved with the Teutuls, the same couldn’t be said about John “Odie” Odendahl.
Posted by American Chopper on Friday, January 8, 2021
Although he was one of the original assemblers in Paul Jr Designs after its foundation, several issues with his work resulted in his firing a couple of years later. Though that story could have ended there, it unfortunately took a disgraceful turn, when in 2015 Odie was found guilty of second-degree arson.
Reportedly, Odie broke into a Town of Montgomery house early in the morning, stealing $25,000 from a safe hidden in a bedroom, then proceeded to set fire to the house while seven people were asleep in it, who fortunately escaped from it safely. Apparently, Odie used the stolen money to buy an all-terrain vehicle and other autos, unashamedly sharing pics of his purchases on social media.
As stated in court, Odie committed his crimes while drunk, and said that he was sorry about what he did: ‘I hurt people that are family to me. It hurts me to know that they hate me. I just wish that one day, they think about forgiving me’. Odie was ultimately sentenced to 11 years in prison.
All in all, this only shows that despite the fame one could achieve, at the end of the day honesty and a good work ethic are what is most important on and off-screen.