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Performance Machine riding wave of success

Robin Hartfiel, Contributing Writer
May 21, 2012
Filed under Features

Paramount Wheel’s launch one of many home runs

Performance Machine is on a roll at a time when many manufacturers are hitting the brakes. Instead of slowing down, the La Palma, Calif.-based powerhouse is currently running three shifts seven days a week and looking for even more production capacity. They also purchased a leading wheel competitor, Xtreme Wheel Motorcycle Products, earlier this year. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as what’s in store for the company, including a wider array of hard parts and bolt-on items.

However, as Performance Machine expands into these other arenas, it is still known for the products on which the company was founded in 1970 — primarily brakes and wheels. In fact, Performance Machine was recognized with the “Wheel Design of the Year” during the 2012 V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati.

“We are very proud to continue our tradition of industry-leading innovation with the addition of our 11th V-Twin Award at the
V-Twin Expo,” said Kelli Murrow, PM director of sales and marketing.

Launched in 2011, the Paramount wheel proved to be an instant success, both in terms of critical acclaim and sales through dealers.

“Sometimes it takes time for a design to penetrate the market, but that definitely wasn’t the case with the Paramount,” she said. “It has been extremely successful in the U.S. and around the world.”

So what caused this overnight sensation?

“The Paramount started as an exercise to see what would happen if I combined bits and pieces of our favorite wheels. Would it culminate in a winning wheel or totally backfire? Basically it was an experiment in statistics,” said Jason Tiedeken, Performance Machine’s R&D manager who doubles as the wheel’s designer. “After a few conversations with sales and marketing, I locked down some of the design attributes I wanted and sketched it up on paper.”

Tiedeken then translated his sketches into finished metal via PM’s Solidworks 3-D CAD program.

“I added some brand new rim detail cuts that we haven’t seen before and some complex multi-radius cuts to really take it to a new level,” he said.

Murrow attributes this attention to detail and Tiedeken’s inherent design skills to the wheel’s instant acceptance in the market.

The Paramount Wheel is available in both chrome (top) and contrast cut (platinum) finishes.

“The Paramount attracts riders mainly because it has so many features packed into one design — just look at the amazingly detailed spokes combined with the rim lip detail,” she said. “Yet it still keeps its balanced hints of both aggression and refinement.”

Feedback from retail customers and satisfied dealers alike has been almost unanimously positive.

“The wheel sales speak volumes in this case. Having the Paramount wheel on display or mounted on a showroom floor model makes sense — it will sell itself,” Murrow said. “It wraps up everything that Performance Machine wheels encompass: style, quality and innovation.”

Speaking of style, the PM Edition Showroom Program and continuously updated website make it easier for dealers to sell through.

“The PM Edition gives our customers the ability to see what their bike will look like in person, versus a standard catalog,” says Brian Arquilla, parts manager for Harley-Davidson Biketown in Youngstown, Ohio. “It creates mental ownership and also shows the quality and style that the PM brand possesses. This opens the door for our customers in more ways than one and brings excitement to both the customers and staff. It prevents price comparison and ultimately increases profits in our dealership.”
With the PM Edition program in place, it seems like the market was ripe for the debut of the Paramount wheel.

Performance Machine R&D manager Jason Tiedeken (left) and president Mark Finnie accept "Wheel Design of the Year” honors at the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati. Tiedeken designed the Paramount Wheel.

“Enthusiasts always want the latest and the greatest so they can set themselves apart,” Murrow said. “As manufacturers we have to keep innovating to keep it exciting.”

Innovation means branching beyond the V-twin market down the road, even though PM currently offers more for the Harley-Davidson market than wheels for the metric cruiser or the sport bike crowds.

“We focus on where the demand is, and right now it seems to be the V-twin for us in the motorcycle segment,” Murrow said. Harley-Davidson’s recently announced 25 percent increase in unit sales this spring confirms this fact.

The Motor Company isn’t the only one to be experiencing a banner year, though.

“We are very excited to have experienced tremendous growth in 2011, and with the recent acquisition of former competitor Xtreme, it doesn’t appear that we will be slowing down any time soon,” Murrow added. “We are actually running three shifts, seven days a week to keep up with the demand.”

For the Paramount wheel, PM also offers matching brake rotors, pulleys and air cleaner covers. In addition to entire accessory “packages,” Performance Machine also offers one of the most diverse ranges of finishes and color options in the industry. For example, the Paramount is available in the rider’s choice of chrome, contrast cut and contrast cut platinum finishes as well as a full range of color options, courtesy of Performance Machine’s new Custom Finish Shop. Retail pricing for a set of Paramount Wheels, available through Parts Unlimited/Drag Specialties, comes in under $2,000.

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