JOB DESIGN: JOB CONTENT, REQUIREMENTS, CONTEXT, RANGE, DEPTH, AND RELATIONSHIPS

AMERICAN CHOPPER, S01E01, BLACK WIDOW
Show Summary
American Chopper is a reality television series that airs on Discovery Channel, produced by Pilgrim Films & Television. The series centers on Paul Teutul, Sr. and his son Paul Teutul, Jr. (also known as Paulie or simply Junior), who manufacture custom motorcycles. Orange County Choppers is in Newburgh, New York. The contrasting attitudes of the two men and their propensity for sulking often lead to heated exchanges as they meet unusually short deadlines for building distinctive custom choppers.i

Cast of Characters
The OCC fabricators and mechanics create dozens of custom motorbikes. Paul Sr. supervises the builds by telling people what they are doing wrong. Michael Teutul, usually referred to as "Mikey", serves as the shop's custodian and webmaster, and provides comic relief to the show. He has been seen doing metal work occasionally, as one of his early jobs was working at Orange County Ironworks. Also featured occasionally is Danny Teutul, the second oldest child, who succeeded Paul Sr. as the owner of Orange County Ironworks. Danny visits to do contracted work for the OCC facilities. The show also documents their personal and promotional activities ranging from magazine photo shoots to family holidays and custom bike shows.ii

Episode Recap
Paul Teutul Sr. (Senior) meets with his staff at a local restaurant to prepare for the Javitz Center motorcycle show. Paul Junior (Junior) mentions that they decided to do something a little “out of the ordinary”, to go with a “Black Widow” theme and integrate “webbing” throughout the whole theme, along with the colors red and black. This is a step above their normal fold out table and brochure. Junior indicates that he has about four weeks to build the bike—less than he normally has. A lot of what he does is trial and error. To be successful you have to keep outdoing yourself and to be a cut above the competition. Customers of custom-built bikes expect constant innovation. He expects that this project will be his best work todate. After finishing a work on a gas tank, Junior asks his father’s opinion. Senior is slow to give praise in person. Senior tells the camera that he thinks that on the level that Junior works, it gets harder and harder to out-do yourself. One of the challenges, Junior says, is that the business is full of time constraints. There’s a great deal to do and not a lot of time to do it. Fortunately or not, we see that Senior is quite willing and able to give
1 Starling D. Hunter III © 2012 | starling@qatar.cmu.edu| Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar | http://qatar.cmu.edu

direction about both what needs to be done and when. He says that he has no doubts at all about his son’s ability to fabricate a custom bike. He does worry, however, that given the time constraints, the design may be “a little too ambitious.” Junior remarks that often, when he is working on fabricating a new bike, his father “likes to hover” and to “breathe down his neck.” This adds to the “pressure” that he feels. It seems that Junior doesn’t think it is necessary or motivating because he already “has high expectations” on himself. Still their overall rapport is good. We see them having a good laugh at the end of the day after having crashed their trucks into each other’s in the parking lot. Their attempt to repair the father’s damaged bumper makes the situation worse. The laughter, Junior, says “takes the edge off” because neither of them had laughed that hard in months. The next day Senior is complaining about a toothache and his need eventual need for a root canal. Junior describes a root canal in detail; Senior is “a coward” about dental work. Instead of going to the dentist, Senior hangs around the shop and gets increasingly aggravated, and then aggravates his son too. He complains that Junior doesn’t like to take part “of the footwork” but likes to be a “Monday morning quarterback” afterwards. We next see Junior discussing his designs with an “old school craftsman”, an older machinist in the shop who has an “art background” and who has been doing this kind of work much longer than Junior’s three years of experience. Junior is also pleased to get positive feedback from this person. After Senior returns from the dentist we see a major difference of opinion develop between he and Junior concerning design changes that have occurred in Senior’s absence. Junior sums it up as follows:
Anytime I say I ‘m completely done with the fabrication, it’s usually not true. At the last minute I’ll see something that I’ll want to add to or change or reconfigure. It’s my job to change my design anytime I see fit. My father, on the other hand, thinks that the only reason I do that is to aggravate him when really I’m just trying to improve our product.

Senior disagrees but his bottom-line is that the bike be done on time. When Junior tells his Dad “Jeez, will you relax for once” Senior replies with a blunt one-word answer, “No.” Next we see Junior and Senior discussing the handlebars. Somewhat to Junior’s dismay, Senior took it upon himself to “mock” them up. Junior breaks it to him gently that Senior has done a very poor job. Junior and Senior have an argument about the need for patience in fabrication work. Junior decides to wait for Vinny to come in to help him rather than enlist his father. Next we get introduced to one of Junior’s assistants—Vincent “Vinny” DiMartino—a long-time friend of the family and a very competent machinist. Senior believes that Junior’s trust in Vinny and his ability to work with him can help take the shop to a higher level of competence. Next we observe Senior and Junior argue about areas of responsibility. Senior has made arrangements for the bike parts to be chrome-plated the next day, Friday. Junior is not done yet and wants to wait until Monday. They argue about the relative scope and difficulty of their work. Junior thinks organizing to get parts chromed is easy. Senior thinks Junior has it easy because all he has to do is build the bike. On Sunday, Vinny and Junior pack the parts and travel to JC’s chrome-shop, someone they have worked with in the past but a place that Junior has been to before. Junior notes that his father complains about his work ethic. However, he says that by the time he gets home he is almost ready to come back because he has so many ideas he wants to work out. We then are treated to several minutes of watching him design a
2 Starling D. Hunter III © 2012 | starling@qatar.cmu.edu| Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar | http://qatar.cmu.edu

new set of handlebars for the bike. His goal for the bike as a whole, he wants people to be “overwhelmed with the detail.” Next we see Junior working with a company called “Rowe Machine” for the manufacture of the bike’s wheels. We observe Junior giving them a rough hand-made drawing of the wheels he wants and they used a CAD software package to generating a detailed design. That design is turned over to a machinist named Chuck Wendt who used a CAD-CAM to fabricate the wheel from a slug of solid aluminum. It took him 3hours to cut the wheel to the specifications—three times as long as for a regular job. Both father and son are visibly pleased with the results. Next we see Vinny and Junior working on the design of the motorcycle’s seat. In this section we learn a bit more about the basis of the good working relationship between them. Vinny is clearly very impressed with Junior’s skill and artistry and though it is not stated directly, there is no question that Junior has superior skills in this area. However, Junior entrusts a lot of work to Vinny and most importantly, frequently solicits Vinny’s opinion on many elements of the design process. Vinny appreciates this and sees it as evidence that Junior trusts in his abilities and insights. Next we see Senior and Junior sharing responsibility for “coordinating with the vendors”, a task more managerial than design in nature. Junior goes to the painter, a place which he has not used before. Senior goes to another vendor, Dumax, for the “powder coating” the chassis and wheel wells. Senior remarks that he had not observed this process before and was surprised about how involved it is. Junior remarks on how important it is for him and his father to go outside the shop and make a “personal connection” with their vendors. Talking to them on the phone is one thing but seeing and talking to them in person is what really makes things “work well.” Next we see Junior back in the shop looking for his lost grinder. He remarks that though he and his father have some problems, he thinks what they really need to work on is their “communication.” They shut down the shop and the next thing we see is the whole shop and some family members at the bowling alley. They have a good and relaxing time and both are convinced that such outings have a positive and beneficial effect on their working relationship and outcomes.

Discussion Questions
1. Compare and contrast the job content, job requirements, and job context of the work of Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. 2. Compare and contrast the job range, job depth, and job relationships of the Paul Sr. and Paul Jr.

Solutions
Write to starling@qatar.cmu.edu for to obtain a copy of the solution to this case.
i ii

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Chopper http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Chopper#Featured_staff

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Starling D. Hunter III © 2012 | starling@qatar.cmu.edu| Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar | http://qatar.cmu.edu

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