Robert J Cotton marks 50 years
Funeral directors Robert J Cotton & Sons this month marked 50 years in business and for owner Trevor Cotton the passion he has for his work has not diminished over the years.
Robert Cotton died very suddenly in 1972 at the age of 53 so the business was taken over by Trevor who was helped by his wife Ruth.
Ruth takes care of the administrative side of the business and their son Hayden has followed in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather and has been in the firm for 21 years. He is now a fully qualified funeral director and embalmer.
In September Trevor will have notched up 45 years running the business, but before that he spent five years helping his father when the business was first established.
As with all businesses, times and technology have changed and they need to embrace these changes to survive.
‘‘Years ago when we first started we would take the casket to the church, along with a trolley and the flowers. Funerals generally started at 11am and were over by 11.45. Now people are having funerals that can stretch over three to four hours. They might have the funeral at 1pm then have refreshments then go on to the cemetery. On the other hand, sometimes people choose not to have a funeral service, but they may have a memorial service,’’ says Trevor.
There is also a lot more work involved now.
Service sheets are produced and a memorial book is placed in the chapel foyer so those attending the service can record their names.
Trevor says families find these helpful in looking back and reflecting on the event.
Webcasting is a new technology in the funeral industry that enables a service to be broadcast live anywhere in the world.
Photo tributes or DVD presentations are becoming an increasingly popular part of today’s funeral services. It gives mourners a more personal look at the life of the person who has died. Photos can be scanned from hard copies and transfer digital photos. It is suggested that families prepare 30 to 40 photos and a fitting piece of music to accompany the photo tribute.
As part of its service to families, Robert J Cotton & Sons record all the services held at the Terracehaven Chapel.
Trevor says they have found that families treasure these recordings and feel that watching the funeral is a great healing tool.
They are able to contract a professional recording company to record services in venues other than the chapel.
As funeral directors being available to offer personalised service and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, communication has always been essential and this is one area that has experienced the most invaluable technology change.
‘‘In the past you always had to be near a phone, or have someone manning the phone to pass on messages. Life was quite restricted,’’ says Trevor.
Gradually professional answering services were used but even this was restricting. It was the widespread use of cellphones that really made a difference to the lives funeral directors and the improved level of service they could then provide.
Robert J Cotton & Sons believe that, in a time of need, providing a family with professional care and compassion is essential in helping people farewell a loved one in a way that is personal and meaningful. ‘‘We value the trust and many friendships we have formed with families throughout the Manawatu over the past 50 years,’’ says Trevor.
A1938 Packard takes pride of place outside Robert JCotton& Sons premises on Main Street.