COLE Publishing is a privately held company with offices in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The company creates seven highly focused trade publications for the liquid waste and environmental wastewater industries. Its titles include Pumper, Cleaner, PRO (Portable Restroom Operator), Onsite Installer, Municipal Sewer & Water, Treatment Plant Operator (TPO), Water System Operator (WSO) and GOMC (Gas, Oil & Mining Contractor) magazines. The company also is sponsor of the annual Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo International, the world’s largest annual trade show for environmental service professionals, and one of the fastest growing trade shows in the United States.
COLE Publishing was founded by Bob Kendall and Pete Lawonn in June 1979. Lawonn pumped septic systems and had a spare 2,000-gallon vacuum tank he needed to sell, but no effective way to market it. Word-of-mouth and newspaper advertising didn’t seem like the best ways to reach contractors who might be interested in his product. The late John DiVall of Jay’s Waste Equipment advised them that there was a need for an industry trade journal. Taking the advice to heart, Kendall and Lawonn began publication. The first issue of Midwest Pumper was mailed to 2,500 contractors in eight states. Today, Pumper is the flagship magazine for COLE Publishing and COLE Inc., which includes eight trade magazines and the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo International.