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History of the APMM

The Association of Professional Model Makers is a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization established in 1993. It was chartered with the mission to serve as a forum for exchanging information and ideas, as well as pool talent and resources for the benefit of the industry as a whole. The APMM was founded on the idea that model making is a vital and integral part of the design and product development process. It seeks to enhance communication between the industries that use prototypes and models and the professionals who make them, promote professional recognition and support the advancement of model making tools and technologies.

KMCA Cira South 1-32 scale

The “Napkin Sketch”
In early 1993, a group of Silicon Valley, California model makers decided it would be a great thing to hold a conference to discuss and measure the impact technology was going to have on the model making industry as the 21st century approached. These specialists felt that if the garage-based, one man shops didn't learn about the breakthroughs being made in Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Machining (CAM), CNC and Rapid Prototyping techniques, then they would be left behind, and eventually put out of business. Kelly Hand and Robert Novack (Satellite Models), Wendy Sommers, and Tom Jacobson, among others, began planning the first-ever model maker’s conference, with the theme "The Future of Model Making", to take place in October 1993.

The initial problem was to determine how many model makers there were around the country (and the world). Nobody really had any idea of how to do this, and with the internet in its infancy, researching meant heading to the local library to look in the Yellow Pages for various cities. After endless hours of brainstorming and searching, the effort paid off. The organizers were amazed that there were so many people who could identify with the term Model Maker. Kelly and the others, in speaking with these individuals, found that a real interest existed in having a forum where Model Makers could get together and share ideas with others in the same line of work.

Intense preparation was begun by a small group of people, making phone calls, reserving a conference center, and inviting presenters and speakers. This gathering was truly an extraordinary undertaking for people who were not in the business of running conferences! The head of Apple Computer’s prototyping department, along with people from IDEO and Lunar Design would speak at the event. CNN, the world wide news channel, planned to send a journalist and camera crew to cover the proceedings.

Developing the Concept
Over 350 Model Makers attended the first APMM Conference, far exceeding anyone’s expectations. The excitement level was electric among attendees, and the idea of continuing the fellowship and professional networking became solidified. The Association of Professional Model Makers was formed to provide a foundation for keeping Model Makers around the world in communication with each other.

Annual conferences continued, bringing professionals together for workshops, local area tours, and meetings with vendors.

In October 1998, the APMM organization began a new era, under the leadership of Richard Coleman (Coleman & Associates) as President and Cynthia Hoffpauer as Executive Director. The headquarters was relocated to Austin, Texas. Cyndi and a core staff of other volunteers contributed countless hours to keeping the APMM together and growing. The Board of Directors was expanded to create new committees and roles to better serve the needs of the Association and its members.

In March 1999, Sharon Moore (Honda R&D), Communications chair, began publishing the APMM’s quarterly newsletter, “The Leading Edge” which has been published continuously ever since. The first “Model Making Source Book” of Vendors was created later that year, as well as annual Member Directories.

Following the 2004 Conference in Naperville (Chicago), Illinois, the APMM Board decided to hold conferences biennially rather than annually to allow the administrative office to concentrate its resources on strengthening the organizational structure and membership benefits.  Moving to a biennial conference schedule also enabled the APMM to offer gatherings spaced to better fit travel and training budgets and encouraged participation rather than missed opportunities.

Advancing the Original Design
In April 2005, Cyndi retired from the position of Executive Director, and Samanthi Martinez, whose husband has been a member of the APMM community for many years, and had worked with Cyndi in marketing and accounting roles with the APMM, took over the position. This change in leadership coincided with the nomination and election of a new Board of Directors, with Charles Overy of LGM Architectural Visualization from Minturn, CO as president, who began their terms by planning for the 2006 Conference. The 2006 Conference in Orlando FL proved, once again, that Model Makers benefit from networking with their colleagues and learning about the latest materials and technologies.

The 2008 Conference was held in Portland OR with a “green” or sustainability theme. Workshops and speakers centered on how to consider “reduce, reuse and recycle” in the Model Making arena and how to “RETHINK Model Making for the Future of our Planet.” More than 160 members turned out for the event, along with tours of the Nike and adidas prototyping facilities, the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and the Evergreen Aviation Museum.

the 2010 Conference in Boston, MA was a revolutionary success as we explored aspects of Rapid Prototyping while keeping up the conversation on traditional model making skills. A new Board of Directors, with Terry Wellman of St. Charles Model Works in Illinois, as president, was elected during the conference, bringing an increased vitality to the organization. They will soon be planning our 2012 gathering somewhere in the Midwest.

Looking into the Future
The APMM exists for, and because of, its members. Members can ensure that the APMM stays alive and remains strong by volunteering for one of the Board positions and committee roles when they become available (two year terms), by offering input for improving services and benefits, and by renewing their membership timely and remaining involved through the MILE online Q&A forum.