COLE Publishing Co-Founder Pete Lawonn Passes Away

COLE Publishing Co-Founder Pete Lawonn Passes Away

It’s with heavy hearts that we at COLE Publishing and Cleaner magazine announce that company co-founder Pete Lawonn passed away Dec. 30. He was 70.

Lawonn had a profound impact on the industry that will be felt for many years to come. He was instrumental in co-founding the company that started with Pumper magazine 43 years ago, and he was a key player in building the International Liquid Waste Haulers Equipment & Trade Show (later the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo International, now called the WWETT Show).

“This company would literally not exist without him,” says COLE Publishing President Jeff Bruss. “Pete will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him, and that list is lengthy. He was extremely kind, always put others before himself, and never spoke poorly or negatively of anyone. A broad smile and squeaky hello was his typical greeting. He had a dry sense of humor that made everyone laugh when he let it loose, and was a genuinely outstanding person.”

Lawonn’s pivotal contributions to the company started during a chance conversation in northern Wisconsin back in 1979 when he and his business partner Bob Kendall, a budding entrepreneur, were looking for a way to sell Lawonn’s spare vacuum tank. They had been talking to the late John DiVall, who then owned Jay’s Waste Equipment. After hearing about the tank for sale, DiVall suggested the industry needed a trade publication to buy and sell equipment.

Lawonn and Kendall thought this was a good idea and soon launched COLE Publishing and the Midwest Pumper, envisioning a trade journal that would serve as a classified advertising marketplace for pumping professionals, as well as a resource for shopping for new products and exchanging ideas.

Initially taking the form of an eight-page newspaper mailed to 2,500 contractors in eight states, the publication soon evolved into a full-fledged magazine as Lawonn pledged to provide small business and industry news, along with a question-and-answer column. As advertisers jumped on board and the subscription base grew, the publication added more and more editorial content.

Lawonn moved on to other ventures in 1986, though he intermittently remained involved with COLE, attending shows and interacting with longtime exhibiting and attending friends.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.