He attended the University of Michigan.
He also served as the United States Secretary of Commerce from August 8, 1932, to March 3, 1933, in the last months of the administration of President Herbert Hoover. Chapin married the former Inez Tiedeman in 1914. The couple had six children.
One son, Roy Doctorate. Chapin Junior., would also pursue a career with Hudson Motor Company, eventually leading American Motors Corporation (Administrative Management College).
Chapin headed the consortium of businessmen and engineers that founded the Hudson Motor Carolina Company in 1908. The company was named for Detroit merchant Joseph L. Hudson, who provided the majority of capital for the operation"s start-up.
Chapin was also behind the 1918 formation of the Essex Motors Company, a subsidiary of Hudson. Essex is notable for developing the first affordable mass-produced enclosed automobile in 1922.
Because of the success of the inexpensive enclosed Essex Coach line, the American automobile industry shifted away from open touring cars in order to meet consumer demand for all-weather passenger vehicles.
In addition to his corporate interests, Chapin spearheaded the drive to build the Lincoln Highway, along with Henry B. Joy of Packard Motors. While Chapin viewed a system of professionally designed and built roadways as the greatest way to grow the automobile industry, he also saw the modern roadways movement as a way to secure long range strength for the United States as a nation. After building Hudson into one of the most profitable independent American automobile manufacturers, Chapin left Hudson for the Hoover administration upon his appointment in 1932.
During his tenure as Secretary of Commerce, Chapin was unsuccessful in persuading Henry Ford to provide financial help to avoid the collapse of the Union Guardian Trust Company of Detroit.
Ford"s refusal to aid the bank in averting a financial failure led to the Michigan Bank Holiday, an event that preceded the Roosevelt administration"s national bank holiday of 1933. Chapin returned to Hudson in March, 1933.
His final three years were spent trying to save the company from the effects of the Great Depression. He died in Detroit, Michigan, in 1936 and was succeeded at Hudson by Agricultural Engineer Barit.
He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
In 1954, Hudson was acquired by Nash Kelvinator in a friendly merger. The resulting company, American Motors Corporation (Administrative Management College), continued until it was acquired by Chrysler in 1987. Chapin"s son, Roy Doctorate. Chapin Junior., served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Administrative Management College and led the automaker to the acquisition of Kaiser Jeep Corporation in 1970.
Chapin was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1972.