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By: Robert Janis

OMF Performance

Owners Experiences Make OMF Performance Successful

Wouldn’t it be great if the things that interested us as kids became the basis for our business? Witness the achievements of Tim Orchard, president of OMF Performance Products in Riverside, California. The company offers parts and accessories for ATVs and UTVs including reinforcing rings for aluminum wheels and beadlock, a mechanical fastening device that clamps the tire onto the wheel and provides better traction for tires.

Orchard has been racing since he was 15 years-old. He still is at the age of 54. The vehicles he has driven include cars, motorcycles, ATVs, and UTVs. He was the winner of the first UTV event held by The Best in the Desert. He has also been on teams which have won the Baja 500 and Baja 1000. When it was time to get a job, Orchard went with companies involved in off-road racing.

Orchard started OMF Performance in 1981. “I had worked in, out, and around the off-road industry doing such things as new product research and development,” he said. “I got tired working for other people and inventing things for them that they took credit for and made them a lot of money.

“Around 1978 or ’79 I started riding three-wheelers and then in 1980 or ’81 I bought one of the first Honda 2-stroke 250R air-cooled, full-suspended three-wheel ATVs,” he continued. He then started OMF and created products for ATVs.

He was so early to get involved in the ATV industry he noted that people actually called them ATCs (all-terrain cycles) because they were more of a cycle vehicle. The vehicles were not referred to as all-terrain vehicles until manufacturers came out with four-wheelers later on in the 1980s.

So, as you can see, Orchard was in on the ground floor of the ATC/ATV business. He was involved making parts while there were still three-wheelers and into the transition of four-wheelers. His product line in the early years was aluminum swing arm skid plates and chassis.

Then, in about 2004, UTVs were introduced. “When the UTVs started coming into their own, I jumped on the opportunity,” said Orchard. “I always thought I had an unfair advantage over some of the people in the industry at that time because I had experienced the introduction of ATVs. Therefore, when the UTVs came out, it was exactly the same environment that I experienced when ATVs were introduced 25 years before. It was déjŕ vu all over again.”

So, he took advantage of the experience he had gathered in the 1980s and immediately started making products and wheel modifications for UTVs. Understanding the importance of the new terrain vehicle, Orchard was co-founder of the UTV Racing Association (UTVRA). He also partnered with a gentleman and started Side-by-Side Outfitters, a warehouse distribution center for UTV parts and accessories. He also pushed hard for magazines to cover UTVs. “I saw UTVs as a huge opportunity probably a year or so before they became extremely popular,” Orchard said.

Moreover, Orchard supplied UTV wheel enhancements to the U.S. military even before the public knew of UTVs. “Some of the early UTVs were developed around military use,” explained Orchard. “They were kind of a pumped up golf cart on steroids. The military first used them for mundane chores at camps and bases. Then the military started using them on Special Forces operations. At one time OMF Performance was the only company in the world supplying 12-inch wheels for U.S. military operations.”

Orchard also had an advantage over others in the industry because he was, and still is, a racer. He keeps his eyes open for obscure products that he knows could make a major impact on ATVs and UTVs. That’s how he got the reinforcing ring and beadlock.

“The first time I saw the reinforcing ring it was on a racer’s bike,” said Orchard. “Alan Knowles of CT Performance Racing had built a pair of reinforcing rings to keep that racer’s wheels from bending. I saw it and talked to Knowles about it. Knowles was an engine builder, and he wasn’t interested in continuing to make the rings so I took it and expanded on it.  It’s been a huge success for OMF ever since.”

What about the beadlock? “The beadlock came after that,” said Orchard. “I was building the reinforcing rings and putting them on thousands of wheels, and there was a guy making beadlocks mostly for off-road trucks and buggies. He did a little bit for ATVs. Well, a lot of people would send me their wheels for a reinforcing ring on one side, and then I dropped shipped the wheels to this guy so that he could put on the beadlock and vice versa. After a while the guy was too busy doing his thing and didn’t have time to do the wheels that I sent him. So I bought beadlock assembly kits from him and installed them in my shop. Soon it became more feasible for me to make the beadlock assemblies myself. I bought some machines and did just that.”

The beadlock is a mechanical fastening device that clamps the tire’s bead bundle onto the wheel rim using mechanical force instead of air pressure. This allows you to lower the air pressure in the tire which causes the contact patch or footprint of the tire to expand offering better traction, flotation, control and a softer ride.

The company uses 21st century technology to make its products. “We have six computer numerical controlled machining centers in house,” said Orchard. “and OMF does all our own programming of those machines.”

Racers Help in R&D

Orchard noted that OMF Performance has a factory support team (FST) of a few hundred racers. FST riders can get from OMF as little as one pair of wheels to as much as dozens of wheels a year at a super discount. “FST guys still have to pay for the product but they pay OMF’s cost,” explained Orchard.

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