Paul Miller Auto Group Expands to 11

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Success results from focus beyond car sales and wealth creation.

The growth was fueled by a desire to foster talent, not dollars.

The Paul Miller Auto Group continues to expand, with an unusual focus on objectives beyond car sales and wealth creation. The company acquired its 11th dealer franchise this month – Paul Miller Toyota in West Caldwell, N.J. – following the introduction of Paul Miller Jaguar in June and the opening of a new Porsche building in April.

Carefully pacing growth over four decades, founder Paul Miller has increased his New Jersey automotive holdings from one shared performance dealership in 1976 to 11 franchises representing 11 international manufacturers in 2015.

He didn't start out to build an automotive empire. A newspaper publisher who raced sports cars with his brother, he was looking for an edge in performance parts for his race cars. He invested in Herman & Miller Porsche+Audi in 1976 and promptly ordered a Porsche 934 to race.

"My vision was if I bought a Porsche dealership, I could get all the best bits and pieces to make my race car go fast," he said. "A big part of my motivation for getting involved in the dealership was racing-related; it had less to do with thinking it was a great business proposition."

After notching victories in the Trans Am Series, Miller retired from professional racing, took sole ownership of the Porsche/Audi business and started the Paul Miller Auto Group. He opened one of the first U.S. Range Rover dealerships (now Land Rover) in 1986, followed by a Bentley and Rolls Royce store in 1991. He added BMW in 2000, Honda in 2007, Subaru in 2011, Volkswagen in 2012, and Jaguar and Toyota in 2015.

The growth was fueled by a desire to foster talent, not dollars.

"I didn't buy other dealerships to get rich; it wasn't about building an empire to see how much money I could make. It was about figuring out a way to develop an organization to attract and retain really good people. That was really the genesis and the driver for wanting to expand," he explained.

"With the one operation, I had to say goodbye to a whole stream of really highly qualified, attractive people. The only way I could move people along and retain them was to have a bigger organization. With more properties, when somebody was promoted, there was a channel for other people to move up who also deserved a promotion."

Miller has maintained his people focus with upgraded facilities that increase comfort for both customers and employees. For example, the new Paul Miller Porsche store features a covered drive-through lane and a designated indoor delivery bay, so customers don't have to brave the elements. And it's tweaked for technicians, too, with extra windows to ensure bright, natural daylight to improve their workspace.

"We're on a consistent roll," Miller said. "We could have grown a lot faster than we have, but we've taken the opportunities that really seemed to be a good fit for our group. We're adding brands and at the same time upgrading all of our facilities, so now we have a great collection of dealership buildings. The character and the styling of these buildings is really important in terms of attracting and retaining the calibre of people we'd like to be able to bring onboard in our business."

The plan appears to be working: The Paul Miller Auto Group posts annual sales of more than 15,000 vehicles and continues to set the pace in manufacturer customer-satisfaction ratings and sales rankings. And Miller has a waitlist of skilled professionals who want to join the company …

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Dawn Werley, Group Marketing Manager
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