Nutek Wheels, one man’s obsession, turned into perfection.
Nutek Wheels, I’m sure most of you have never heard of them, I know I didn’t before two weeks ago. But, I’m extremely pleased to have come across them now. I’ve never seen such a quality built product before and I’ve got to say, I was quite impressed by this company, from customer service, to their knowledgeable staff, to the thought and effort they put into their product. I don’t think I’ve been introduced to this kind of dedication and faith in a product before. Last week I had the rare chance and extreme pleasure of being invited to take a personal guided tour of their facility. If that wasn’t enough, I arrived that morning to find I’d be receiving the tour from the owner him self, Mr. Gene Howald.
Before I go on, I feel it’s important to give you a little back ground on the ‘head honcho’ and founder of this company. I have to say, I was almost more enamored at times by his story and what he had to say than what was actually going on with the tour. Mr. Howald got his start in racing, being a race car driver in the late 70’s and early 80’s, he found their racing team having issues with the durability of the steel race wheels that were inuse at the time, and of course, as they say, necessity is the key to invention. He started off with helping Hayashi wheels, where he put his designs to very good use. After several years with Hayashi he left to start his own company, Howald Racing Enterprises. He later shortened the name to HRE Performance Wheels, that’s right, you heard me correctly. He’s the founder of HRE, but, because of the close ties to Hayashi when the company started, many mistakenly believe HRE standards for Hayashi Racing Equipment, which I can tell you is quite the false misnomer.
Being one for quality and a true car guy, he holds several patents on not just wheel designs, but also jigs, measuring devices, and other various equipment they use to ensure the utmost exact tolerances and accuracy throughout the wheel manufacturing process. A fun little fact, Mr. Howald holds the patent on the self inflating wheel used on the Military Humvee’s, as well as the civilian Hummer H1. Like other performance part manufacturer’s, he has held numerous military contracts and holds several patents including some I’m not allowed to type about. He eventually sold HRE about 10 years ago, but like any other true car guy, he couldn’t stay away. In late 2006 he formed Nutek Wheels, and that brings us back to where we started.
We’ll start with a bit of the lowdown on Nutek. It’s actually one of 3 companies. Custom Wheel Solutions – California, is the main parent company, while Nutek and Bavaria are the subsidiary companies/brands under them. Custom Wheel solutions manufactures custom wheels and private label wheels for a host of companies. They make anything from custom motorcycle wheels and sprockets to pretty much any custom design you can dream up. CWS regularly designs custom one-off designs for sports stars and the like. In fact while we were there, they where actually in the process of cutting a line of wheels for one of their private label motorcycle wheel clients. CWS is one of only 3 or 4 companies that actually produce true 3-piece wheels. Of course HRE is one of them and is also the company that invented that style of wheel (I’ll give you 3 guesses who pioneered that technology). But, they do more than just that. Among other things, they also manufacture concave monoblok wheels as well as a few other items that aren’t pertinent to what I’m discussing.
Nutek Wheels is the 3-piece forged aluminum high performance wheel line manufactured by the company, and it’s also their main marketing brand. These wheels are also by far the most impressive 3-piece forged wheels I’ve ever laid my eye’s on. Like all of their products, They are manufactured from start to finish with precision and quality control as a number one priority, I’ll get to more on that in a minute. So let’s talk about Bavaria Wheels for a minute. They are Nutek’s sister brand and are the Latest offering as the company’s new concave monoblok wheel line, and like Nutek, they are very high quality. This latest line is named after Howald’s heritage and is intended to tread deep into the high-end sports and luxury car market.
Now for the fun stuff, and what I know all of you have been begrudgingly reading through my rantings for the last few paragraphs to get to. That’s right, we’re talking business, the nitty gritty, the lowdown, the true grease monkey stuff… The manufacturing process. I’m going to mostly focus on the 3-piece wheel construction as that is what we really went in-depth on while there. The process starts with a well planned and mapped out design in CAD. This insures the best engineered design and the most accurate cuts once the process is started. All of their wheels start out as a high quality light weight forged aluminum blank and they all make us of a double walled rolled lip for added strength and rigidity. Let me tell you that I was most impressed by the manufacturing procedure. After each and every step in the process the wheels are measured and checked to make sure they’re perfectly round and balanced. I could tell while I was there that the workers had real pride in the quality of product they where producing. This company has even pioneered and patented special tools and jigs to aid in the accuracy and assembly of the product. This mind set has even carried over into how they package and ship their product. All of their products are packed and shipped in specially designed slip cardboard boxes and foam so there is no air gap for the wheels to move around.
I’ve created a gallery at the end of this article that gives you a thorough step-by-step pictorial of the manufacturing process if you would like to see it in-depth. I was exceedingly impressed with the whole experience while there and I definitely want to thank Eddie Kacha for taking the time to organize this and help with the tour. A great deal of gratitude also needs to be extended out to Mr. Gene Howald for taking the time out of his busy day to give us the tour of the facility. It was definitely an honor and a privilege.
If you’d like to learn more about Nutek Wheels, you can read more about them and our experience there here: www.theautomod.com – Nutek Wheels: Passion in Design
You can also check out Nutek Wheels or any of the other 2 companies yourself by visiting them on the web at www.nutekwheels.com or you can call them at: 714-921-5272.
Now that we have that out-of-the-way, here’s your in-depth look at the manufacturing process: