Jim Coleman’s father, William, was a Cadillac dealer in Bethesda in the early 1960s, and Coleman worked at the store during his teenage years. He graduated from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda in 1972 and attended Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, before joining his father’s Cadillac dealership full-time in 1975.
“I worked in most positions in the company, including sales, service and parts, eventually moving into management,” he said. Coleman bought into the dealership in 1980 and became one of the youngest Cadillac dealers in the nation at that time.
“I was very fortunate to receive a great education from my father who was an exceptional automobile dealer, businessman and supportive parent,” he said. “He was a great role model and any success I have achieved I owe entirely to him.”
Over the years, Coleman expanded the business to diversify his product line and today, Jim Coleman Automotive encompasses three dealership locations in Maryland (Bethesda, Silver Spring and Clarksville), representing Cadillac, Honda, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover and Toyota brands. His two sons and his brother all work for the family enterprise. “We operate successful, well-managed, customer-oriented, profitable automobile dealerships,” he said.
In the area of community service, Coleman is proud of his long association with Suburban Hospital, part of Johns Hopkins Medicine, in Bethesda. He served on the board of trustees for nearly a decade and was named an Emeritus Trustee for his contribution to this community-based, not-for-profit hospital.
“Both my elderly parents passed away at Suburban Hospital after difficult illnesses,” he explained. “I was struck by the compassion, care and dignity in which my mother and father were treated during their final days. I decided to get involved to ensure that our local hospital would always provide all residents of our great community the same level of care that my parents received.”
He and his wife, Marte, have chaired numerous events and galas for the hospital, working diligently to create successful fundraisers that were instrumental in raising significant amounts for major hospital improvements. They were particularly proud of their association with Key to the Cure, which emphasizes breast cancer awareness. In 2010, Jim received the prestigious Commitment to Excellence Award from Suburban Hospital in acknowledgement of his efforts. “This honor was very meaningful to me as it recognized our ongoing commitment to the community,” Coleman said.
Coleman is also a champion of the Children’s Inn at NIH (National Institutes of Health) in Bethesda; the Heroes Gala benefitting pediatric oncology at Children’s National in Washington, D.C.; and Catholic Charities. In addition, he supports Washington School for Girls (Washington, D.C.); the Ivymount School (Rockville, Maryland); the Youth Leadership Foundation (Washington, D.C.) and the Washington Jesuit Academy (Washington, D.C.), which are all nonprofits that provide private education and mentoring for inner city and impoverished youth or children with special needs.
“We take giving back to our community very seriously and last year donated well over $100,000 to various organizations in need,” Coleman said. “We feel very fortunate to be able to support so many that need our help.”
Coleman was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Peter Kitzmiller, president of the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Marte, have three children.