Board Member Profile: Paul Chabala

Our APMM Treasurer has a wealth of experience

submitted by bruce willey, as told by Paul Chabala, treasurer

My current career position is Manager – Design Model Shops, Crown Equipment Corporation, and I have been a Board Member of the APMM for the past 4 years. I’ve been in model making for the past 24 years, and what a long strange trip it’s been. (Shout out to my fellow Dead Heads!)

I started my college career at Kent State University in the school of Architecture. That is where I fostered my love for model building. Later, at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, I found new avenues to apply this passion in Industrial and Product Design. I did not know that there was a professional model maker position that existed while I was in school. If I had known, I believe that it could have allowed me to direct my energy towards a more focused goal.

My first job as a professional model maker started in 1994, just following my graduation from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I was hired directly out of my portfolio review to a small firm in the Cincinnati/Dayton, OH area called 3D Technical Services. At that time, my portfolio was heavy in architectural style models, and this was something that they were looking to add to their capabilities.

There have been many different types of model making which have touched my career path. Initially, I was focused on architectural model building and that remains my true expertise. While doing this, I would fill time in between projects doing product design prototypes and whatever else came into the shop. This continued for 17 years. Hiring in with Crown Equipment, I was able to move on to full size industrial vehicle mock-ups and functional vehicle prototype mules. It’s safe to say that my 23 years of model making has seen just about every type of build process and subsequent deliverable.

When pressed for my most interesting model, there is a clear and obvious winner. While doing work for the Pampers division of Procter & Gamble, we were tasked with creating an immersive environment for the product designers to experience the viewpoint of toddlers. To this end, I created a 6.5’ tall toilet. It was very intimidating to stand in front of!

I have enjoyed a long career in model making, but moving on to manage an internal shop for a large corporation has really capped it off. Passing on my experience to my model makers while continuing to grow and evolve our collaboration with the product developers has become a true calling to me. My connections through the APMM have been a major part of this, as I draw on the experience of others while giving back all that I can, in the pursuit of true collaboration.



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