The need for exploring off-road is a notion that we feel we can find across the entire United States. That’s the drive behind our new column, Stateside Shop Tour. Come with us as we tour the nation looking at shops that build capable off-road machines of all shapes and sizes.
Previously, we were getting the perspective of a Montana man and his shop with Mike’s Off Road in Bozeman, Montana. This week, we move east yet again and find ourselves in North Dakota, where Performance Off-Road, in Mandan, lies just across the Missouri River from the capital of Bismarck.
As a sort of one-man show, owner and founder Jesse Zander got his off-road ways from his truck racing father. “He did stadium events and ran the Special Event Series with monster trucks and mud drags with Tuff Trucks,” explained Zander. “I graduated from high school and went into work as a diesel technician working on big trucks.”
The drive to be successful on his terms was strong in Zander. He quit his job as a diesel tech and went into business for himself. The work he did on big rigs was honest and tough, but Zander found more enjoyment doing aftermarket modifications to vehicles, and to that end he started Performance Off-Road in 2013.
Zander brought to the table what he could for off-road customers. “We’ve been doing a lot of bolt-on stuff lately, and I can fabricate when I need to,” he said. “Suspension systems, bumpers, wheels and tires, alignments, all that good stuff is our main focus. We eventually want to get into bedliners, but that’s about the extent of it.”
Evidence of Zander’s work is seen in a 2008 Chevy 2500 that received an eight-inch lift kit, 20×12 Fuel wheels, and 37-inch Interco tires. Jeeps are never hard to come by in his line of work, of course, and a two-door JK recently rolled in. It rolled out looking completely different, having received 17-inch wheels and 37-inch Baja Claw radial tires, all from Mickey Thompson.
“It’s got the Rubicon Express radius arm kit sitting at seven inches of lift,” said Zander. “We have GenRight Off Road fender flares and Smittybilt bumpers on it, because the customer wanted a little bit of everything to round out his rig. He likes to take it out on trail runs and does a lot of highway miles on it, so we expect he’ll be back soon to replace those tires!”
It’s a lot of work for one guy to take care of, and consequently Zander is always holding off on taking an off-road journey of his own. He hopes to bring on more talent this coming year, and put the finishing touches to an LS2-powered sand rail to take to outdoor events. In the meantime, we tip our hat to Zander and wish him the best. Stay tuned to our Stateside Shop Tour here on Off Road Xtreme, and watch for our next installment as we head to Minnesota.