The best way to create community is to become part of it, which is what Paul Miller Volkswagen, the only car franchise dealership in Bernardsville, has been doing since it opened its doors to drivers a little over a decade ago.
Charitable work has always been a part of the DNA of the company, which was established in New Jersey in 1976 by former race car driver Paul Miller, owner of the racing team that bears his name. The company now has 12 dealer groups in the state: Porsche, Audi, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, Land Rover, Honda, Toyota, BMW, Subaru, VW and Chevrolet.
“Community is everything,” says Edward Schoonmaker, the general manager of the Bernardsville store. “It’s the heart and soul of our business; it’s our lifeline.”
Since 2019 when he joined Paul Miller Volkswagen, Schoonmaker, a 26-year industry veteran, has placed a priority on community involvement, taking an active role in Main Street Bernardsville, the charitable nonprofit whose mission is to revitalize the community.
“I joined Paul Miller right before the pandemic,” he says. “So we weren’t able to get started with our community work as soon as I had hoped. But in the last couple of years, we have been supporting the local businesses and the community.”
This year, Paul Miller Volkswagen sponsored Bernardsville’s annual car show and food truck festival and was among the judges of the event.
The dealership also sponsors the Bernardsville High School football team, golf outings and hole-in-one events. Recently, it sponsored a meet-and-greet mixer for business owners and operators in the dealership showroom.
“It’s our way of thanking the community and being a part of it,” Schoonmaker says.
Although Schoonmaker doesn’t live in New Jersey—a resident of Monroe, New York, he drives his VW an hour each way to get to the dealership—he feels he’s a part of the community.
“I’ve met a lot of people, including the mayor,” he says. “Olivia Manning, the executive director of Main Street Bernardsville, is one of our customers; she drives a VW Atlas. We are a community that sticks together.”
Schoonmaker plans to expand Paul Miller Volkswagen’s community service.
“One of my big initiatives is to become more involved and do more community events,” he says. “We want to continue to explore and grow in this area. We want the community to know that we are here to support and be sponsors and donate for local charity events.”
Visit Paul Miller Volkswagen at PaulMillerVW.com.