The digs inside the Xtreme Machine showroom.
With the economy still in the skids and unemployment rates continuing to rise, the mantra "Buy American" has never had more prevalence. Our industry is significant in the fact that for the most part it's supported by American companies that, rather than shipping production overseas, they design, machine, fabricate, and assemble their products right in their own backyards.
In a time when it seems like every day we hear of another company making the ultimate sacrifice and closing its doors, it's refreshing and inspiring to hear of a company like Xtreme Machine finding its way through this mess, and celebrating a milestone such as a 10-year anniversary. We caught up with Xtreme Machine's Rick Rolson and Rod Brogdon to get a little insight on the history and background on the wheel company.
Rod working feverishly to come up with yet another new wheel design.
HB: How did the idea to start up a motorcycle wheel company come about?
Rick: The Rodem brothers, Robert Lee and Jeff, owned a machine shop in Jacksonville, Illinois, that had been in the family since 1919. After Robert read an article on the father and son who started Titan motorcycle, he thought that we could get into the motorcycle industry too, especially since we already had the machinery and personnel in place. Our original plan was to produce parts for sprint cars and decorative bolt-on parts for motorcycles. We found out real quick we didn't want to be in the sprint car business. We also found out the decorative parts being produced for the most part were being sold real cheap and a lot of times they were produced overseas. After a visit from Rod Brogdon, a friend and native from Jacksonville, we had a new idea. Rod was currently employed in Kentucky and in the motorcycle industry. We thought if we could convince him to join our forces, we could make an immediate impact in the motorcycle industry with wheels. Rod decided to join us, and the rest is history.
HB: Who was on the ground floor of the company when it started? How many employees did you have and how many are still with you?
Rick:It was myself, Jeff, Robert Lee, and Donna Carmody. There were 15 of us, and there still are 15 of us.
One side of the shop for machining wheels and the other side for assembly.
HB: Who came up with the name? How was it chosen? Were there any other name considerations?
Rick:I came up with the name. I don't really remember any other name considerations.
HB: What was the first piece of equipment that was purchased for the company?
Rick: Well since there was already the machine shop, we pretty much had what we needed to cut the wheels, so we just needed a polishing machine.
HB: What was the first wheel design you guys came out with? And who designed it?
Rick: Rod deigned our first wheel, which we called Mystic. It's sort of a tribal design with some points and curves with ball-milled accents.
...and the other side for assembly.
HB: Is everything done in-house?
Rod: Yeah, we do everything except the chrome and powdercoat. The chrome is done out of state and the powdercoat is done here in town.
HB: And you guys produce wheels for Harleys, Victory, and some metric bikes. How many wheels would you say you produce a year?
Rod: We probably do around 2,500 wheels a year.
HB: What's the process for creating a new wheel design/style?
Rick: I'm not really sure there's a process. We normally start designing and something just develops. It might be what we had intended, but a lot of times it's not. It usually ends up better.
HB: How many designs and styles do you offer?
Rick: We have more than 50 designs and eight finish options.
HB: What's the most popular wheel design?
Rod: I used to know off the top of my head. Back a few years ago, around 2007, it was the Reaper and the Shredder. Now we've got so many designs, it's kind of spread out.
HB: What exciting new products/plans do you guys have coming in the near future?
Rick: Right now we are focusing on the new Tattoo line and implementing it into different finishes. The Tattoo line is basically taking color and adding it the spokes or intricate designs of the wheel. We can do it to a chrome or powdercoated wheel to accent its overall appearance. Of course we'll also continue to design and develop new wheels
HB: How often do you come up with new designs? And who decides, "Yeah we think this will sell?"
Rod: We are constantly coming up with new wheel ideas. And when we have a design or designs we like, we'll take a vote as to if we should make it or not.
One of Xtreme's SS10 wheels doused in all-black.
The wheel that started it all, the Mystic.
Xtreme's newest line is the Tattoo Wheels. This is a chrome Mercenary wheel and you can see the wheel has been given the tattoo treatment with the black accents highlighting the blades. The wheel also features another Xtreme option, the bolt pattern around the rim edge.
Xtreme's newest line is the Tattoo Wheels. This is a chrome Mercenary wheel and you can se
HB: How have you seen the industry change over the past 10 years?
Rick: When we first got into it, you had a few people who did well and were well known. Shortly after that the industry took off like a rocket and it seemed like every Tom, Dick, and Harry was getting into it. This increased competition, which isn't bad because you had some really cool stuff being developed, but you also had to work harder for your money. Over the last year or so, the industry has taken a dip like everything else which will help thin out the pretenders and make the industry stronger when it rebounds.
HB: How have you guys been able to survive in this economy?
Rod: By all of our different designs. Having stuff other people don't offer, like the wheels with skulls in them. And having a broad range of designs and finishes for people to choose from.
HB: Excellent. Well thank you guys for your time, and here's to 10 more years. To see all of Xtreme Machine's wheels check out xtrememachine.com.