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From maintaining airliners to repairing cars, it’s hands-on for The Woodlands’ Cottman man

Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 07:00
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Joe Giovanniello, The Woodlands’ Cottman Man, has been maintaining and fixing engines for more than four decades. The Vietnam vet, who retired from the Air Force Reserves as a lieutenant colonel, spent 44 years in aviation engineering, first in the Air Force and then for major airlines such as Eastern, Continental and United.

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But Joe, who calls himself a “gearhead,” began by working with cars when he was a teen, fondly recalling his first – a Pontiac GTO that he modified. A generation later, Joe worked with his older son to rebuild and customize cars. When one of the cars they were working on had a transmission problem, they brought it to the local Cottman center, which was Joe’s first experience with the nationwide transmission repair chain. He remembers being impressed with the quality of their work and the emphasis they placed on good customer service. That positive experience stayed with him.

When Joe began planning what he would do once he retired from the airlines, he naturally looked toward car-related businesses. He was at a car show in 2006, proudly showing his ’97 white Camaro, when he met the owner of the Cottman Transmission franchise in The Woodlands. Joe told him to call if he ever wanted to sell his center.

A year later, Joe got the call. In the summer of 2007, he became the Cottman Man of The Woodlands, taking over the franchise at 705 Sawdust Rd. in the suburb north of Houston. 

“Cars have always been a big part of my life,” Joe said. The Staten Island native went to Brooklyn Technical High School and then got his mechanical engineering degree at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. After his Armed Forces service, he got a job with Eastern Airlines, doing aircraft maintenance.

Working with aircraft, he said, is highly technical and usually involves cutting-edge technology that may eventually make it into the automotive world. He always enjoyed it and found it challenging and interesting. “Much of it,” he added, “translates to the world of cars.”

When he bought the Cottman franchise, Joe was able to keep the staff, who had a wealth of experience keeping cars running. Nearly a year ago, he retired from United Airlines and began working full-time at his shop. The center has eight lifts and a full range of diagnostic equipment to do practically any maintenance and repair job. In addition to a builder, an R & R man and others, he recently added an ASE-certified Master Mechanic to his crew. And there’s Joe, too, who still enjoys getting his hands under the hood.

Even while running his center, Joe remains deeply involved with car clubs in the area. He shows his ’97 Camaro and proudly points it out as the February 2016 featured car in the Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care’s calendar. He sponsors car shows throughout the Houston area, and also supports local high school sports. He also is a strong supporter of programs that help the mentally handicapped.

After talking about his Camaro, Joe is also quick to point out several awards he’s won over the years from Cottman for outstanding customer service. “Doing a good job and putting the customer first,” he said, “is what brings people back and helps grow the business.”

Joe’s Cottman center can be reached at www.cottmanofthewoodlands.com.

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