Vern Hagestad Volkswagen
Verndayne (Vern) Hagestad quit school in the eighth grade so he could work to help support his mother, brothers and sisters. He started his entrepreneurship journey by purchasing a grocery store in Rapid City, South Dakota and got into the car business when he moved to Cheyenne and worked as a salesman for Cheyenne Lincoln Mercury. He eventually purchased that dealership in 1957 and changed the name to Vern Hagestad Motor Company.
In 1959, Vern sold the dealership in Wyoming and moved to Lakewood, Colorado when he was awarded the Volkswagen and Porsche dealership. He opened the dealership on Colfax Avenue in January 1960. Vern wasn’t interested in selling those ‘sporty little cars,’ so he split the Porsche dealership from Volkswagen and moved it a few blocks west, where son Bob ran it.
Vern’s was a family business; son Bruce and son-in-law Ron Schonebaum worked for him. He treated employees as family, with big Christmas parties every year for employees’ families — and giving presents to their children. Vern gave employees a vacation day on their birthday, as well. He was the president and general manager of the Volkswagen dealership until he sold it in 1977.
Vern supported many organizations, including the Mile High United Way, Jefferson County 4-H Clubs, Children’s Hospital, National Jewish Hospital, his grandchildrens’ sports teams and several others. He served on the CADA Board of Directors in 1967, 1968 and 1969. He was Colorado’s nominee for the 1973 TIME Quality Dealer of the Year.
He married Geneva Running on June 24, 1933 in Fargo, North Dakota; they had three children: Robert, Barbara and Bruce, as well as eight grandchildren. Vern passed away April 23, 1983.
While managing the Volkswagen dealership, Vern would send thank you notes to all his customers, with a handwritten message of the following:
• Upward and Onward
• Believe in yourself.
• Believe in humanity.
• Believe in the success of your undertakings.
• Fear nothing and no one.
• Love your work.
• Work. Hope. Trust.
• Keep in touch with today.
• Teach yourself to be practical, up to date and sensible.
• Plan your work and work your plan.
• You cannot fail.
• It’s a real pleasure doing business with you.