Jason Grimes doesn’t go to work anymore. He’s the perfect example of that saying, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Grimes lives in Westbrook and runs Northeast Chop Shop, a custom motorcycle and hot rod enterprise on Route 302 in Windham where he’s been welding, fabricating and designing one-of-a-kind rides. A Northeast Chop Shop tweaked-out Harley just graced the cover of a nationally known motorcycle publication, the May-June 2011 issue of Barnett’s Magazine.

If you travel up and down Route 302 you’ve probably seen the shop’s latest location at 299 Roosevelt Trail. It’s a place with lots of space that’s better suited to the company’s growth, which is evident: A new paint booth has gone up, and Grimes is keeping five full- timers employed.

“The main thing was zoning,” he said of his recent move. “I’m a licensed dealer for motorcycles now and have a showroom here. I can line bikes and cars up along road frontage, something that wasn’t allowed at the old location.”

A graduate of Mount Ararat High School in Topsham, Grimes, 36, has done all sorts of different work since then, including a stint as a pro snowboarder for Rossignol, and mushing sled dogs in Colorado.

“I’d take people who came to Vail (Colo.) on a 14-mile dog sled ride to the top of a mountain,” he said.

But when the snow melts, Grimes is like many other Maine motorcycle maniacs who can’t wait to get back out on two wheels. Grimes doesn’t typically sit on run-of-the-mill bikes. He has three heavily customized rides: a 1972 Harley-Davidson “Ironhead,” a ’76 “Shovelhead,” and a ’91 Harley Evolution Softail.

And if it’s four wheels, you’ll see him cruising about town in a custom-crafted 1937 Dodge “rat rod,” a term for a rough-around-the-edges 1950s retro-themed hot rod.

In addition to custom cycles there are many “barn finds” on Northeast’s lot — old cars and trucks awaiting customers who want something turned into a unique ride. Grimes wants more people to be able to enjoy a custom hot rod or bike and understands not everyone has the wherewithal for a $50,000 Discovery Channel-type Orange County Choppers creation.

“I try to keep my custom bike-builds under $10,000,” he said.

Currently, service and add-ons like custom handlebars and gas tanks are the shop’s bread and butter.

Northeast employs a certified Harley-Davidson master mechanic with 30 years’ experience. Doug Rasmuson met Grimes when they worked together at Big Moose Harley-Davidson in Portland. But Northeast is not averse to working on Japanese bikes; they service most any make or model.

Grimes is a graduate of the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando, Fla., where he graduated with a Harley-Davidson degree. He then worked for Big Moose for about a year.

In 2002, Grimes and Rasmuson decided to start something of their own. Today, Northeast Chop Shop is one of the few Maine custom motorcycle shops.

The bike they did that caught the attention of Barnett’s Magazine was built and shipped to a customer in Florida who is a butcher. It’s what’s known as a “theme bike,” where a certain idea provides inspiration for the finished product.

The “Butcher Bike” is a custom H-D Sportster, built by Northeast in two months. It includes an interesting paint scheme that resembles the different cuts of meat on a steer.

The black gas tank and rear fender got divided and labeled into sections such as “rib,” “short loin,” “flank” and “tenderloin.” An actual meat grinder was fabricated into an air cleaner. The handlebars are oversized-looking carving knives.

In addition to stopping by the shop, you can meet the crew and see their work at Buck’s Naked BBQ in Windham today and on July 20, Aug. 17 and Sept. 21. Live music and raffles will be part of the mix on “Bike Night.”

As a local businessman, Grimes wants to do his part to support the community. Northeast is a sponsor of this weekend’s Windham Summerfest. Charitable work and events are something Grimes wants to work into the business model.

“As a business in the community, it’s the right thing to do to help support charitable events,” Grimes said. “I feel a personal connection to the various charities I support.”

Northeast Chop Shop is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Find them on the Web at www.northeastchopshop.com, or call 892-1477.

 

Don Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Raymond. He can be reached at: [email protected]