Industry News: January 2023

Catch up on the latest acquisitions, promotions and company milestones

Industry News: January 2023

NOWRA names new board members

The following have been elected to the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association board of directors and will serve through November 2025: Gary Hawkins (Georgia); Jerry Stonebridge (Washington state); Robert Sweeney (Oregon); David Price (Texas). Board members whose terms recently ended are: Chris LeClair (Minnesota); Morris Smith (Florida); Tom Schimelfenig (North Dakota).

2025 Onsite Wastewater Mega-Conference announced

NOWRA announced the 2025 Onsite Wastewater Mega-Conference will be held Oct. 19-22 at the Kalahari Resort and Conventions in Sandusky, Ohio. For more on the conference announcement, visit

James Bell wins NOWRA industry achievement award

The 2022 Richard J. Otis Industry Achievement Award was given to former NOWRA president, James Bell at the 2022 Onsite Wastewater Mega-Conference. The award, named after NOWRA past president Richard Otis, is presented annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to both NOWRA and the onsite industry. Bell served as president of NOWRA in 2017 and 2018 was integral in establishing NOWRA’s online learning.

Pumper and COLE Publishing Co-founder Pete Lawonn Passes Away

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

Lawonn had a profound impact on the pumping industry that will be felt for many years to come. He was instrumental in co-founding Pumper 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 truck 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.


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