Spirit of commercials live on through sons of local celebrity

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 29, 2014


LAPLACE – Remember those Cottman Transmissions commercials with the guy who never said a word?

That man, Frank Cato, struck gold with his series of commercials that were disarming and charming, and his legacy is living on with his two sons who now run his businesses. Brothers Rusty and Randy Cato took over their father’s business in 2004 when Frank retired.

But more about those commercials.

Randy said the commercials started out as an accident, but had an “amazing impact” on the marketing and advertising efforts of the company. Rusty added that people in the Cottman corporation were initially not impressed at all with the commercials, with some people even recommending changing the format. It wasn’t until Frank was traveling in an airport with representatives from corporate that the commercials were proven successful.

Rusty explained that several people recognized Frank and started quoting lines from the most recently shot spot. From then on, Cottman embraced the appeal of the quirky ads.

“He claimed he didn’t like the attention, but he did,” said Randy of his father. Rusty adamantly agreed.

Both brothers also agree that their father was a one-of-a-kind manager.

“His connections with his customers and employees made him special,” said Randy.

“He got the best out of people.”

“He treated employees like family,” added Rusty.

Frank, who died in 2012, opened his first Cottman shop in 1988 in New Orleans. That store was recently distinguished as the number one franchise in sales in the country.

“It’s such a great achievement,” said Derik Beck, director of new media at American Driveline Systems, the parent company of Cottman.

Beck said the Cato brothers are doing a great job at keeping their father’s dreams alive for the business. With an impressive track record of success, the brothers are looking to expand strategically in the New Orleans market and are also planning a remodel for the LaPlace store later this year.

“You just never know when to remodel something with hurricane season around the corner,” Rusty joked.

The Cato brothers solely own and operate three out of the five Cottman locations in Louisiana. The LaPlace location opened up in 2005 and a Gretna location was added in 2011.

Randy and Rusty ‘”play well off of each other,” said Beck.

Randy and Rusty agree. With Randy handling more of the technical side of the business and Rusty managing more the of the customer service and experience aspects, the brothers seem to make a good team.

“We’re looking for 2014 to be a banner year for the brothers,” said Beck.