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Cottman of Greenville, a family business, moves to second generation

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 09:00
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When Becky Beacham and her husband Chandler opened a Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care center 16 years ago, they were looking for a business where they could call the shots and reap the rewards of hard work and solid customer service. 

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Prior to opening the franchised repair center, they had worked for others. Chandler spent many years working for a company that eventually was bought out and went through changes. “When he decided to leave, he wanted a situation where he could control his own destiny,” Becky recalled. “That meant being in business for himself.”

Becky, who had worked in management, did some research and learned about Cottman

She spoke with many franchisees and liked what she heard. Successful owners came from a variety of backgrounds and businesses.

The Beachams decided to move ahead, opening their Cottman center in Greenville in April, 1999. From the start, it was a family business. Their son Clay, then a teenager, helped in the shop, doing everything from cleaning and maintenance to delivering finished cars to customers. He eventually learned the mechanical end of the business, becoming an expert transmission rebuilder.

The business grew, Becky says, largely due to the Beachams’ emphasis on delivering outstanding customer service. “We always make sure a customer’s car is fixed right the first time, and we stand behind our work,” she said. “We also do little extras that mean a lot to our customers, like giving the car a thorough cleaning before we deliver it back to the owner. Those things make a real difference, and they’ve brought us lots of repeat business and referrals.”

As the business grew, their son Clay advanced up the ranks and eventually became the shop manager. With Clay firmly in charge, in 2012 the Beachams retired and moved to Mt. Pleasant, SC.

“It was a great feeling to see our son take over the business we had built,” Becky said. 

“Not only did our decision 16 years ago enable us to control our own destiny, but it gave us something to pass on to our son.” Becky said she still offers support and ideas, but “Clay has it under control.” The business had a substantial growth in sales last year. 

Chandler, who lived to see the change, passed away last summer.

Clay, now 33, says he feels a real sense of achievement. “I started at the bottom, scrubbing floors and cleaning the bathrooms. When I took over, I learned that every day presents a new challenge, but that’s what makes it interesting and rewarding,” he said. “But is always comes back to giving the absolute best customer service, by treating every customer’s vehicle as if it were our own, and doing it right the first time.” 

The shop, at 401 N. Pleasantburg Drive, recently underwent a remodel, with new furnishings and lighting in the customer waiting area, and new landscaping outside. 

The business remains a real family affair. Clay’s wife Cassey works in the office. Their two-year old son isn’t on the payroll yet, but there’s no doubt he’s learning about customer service from watching his parents.

Cottman of Greenville can be reached at (864) 326-5856 or online at www.cottmanofgreenville.com.

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