Vacuum Truck Innovator LaVerne Charlet Passes Away

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Wastewater industry pioneer LaVerne Charlet passed away Dec. 20 in Paducah, Kentucky. He was 83. Charlet was a manufacturer, marketer, and innovator in the vacuum truck industry and a recipient of the prestigious Ralph Macchio Lifetime Achievement Award presented by COLE Publishing founder Bob Kendall at the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo.

In 2004, Charlet was honored by Pumper as influential in vacuum truck technology. He was instrumental in septic service companies moving away from rudimentary diaphragm pumps or creating suction off a truck’s intake manifold and utilizing modern pumps and vacuum tanks.

“We’d buy a truck and build a body. I’d jump in to the truck and go out and do some demonstrations and sell it. Then I’d come back and we would do it all again,” he recalled at the time. “When I demonstrated a truck with a vacuum pump, they were amazed. Some people, after the demonstration, would refuse to buy one. They’d say, ‘People wouldn’t pay me — they’d think I was getting money too easily.’”

Charlet operated the vacuum tank manufacturing company Industrial Municipal Engineering, or IME, with Leland Pearson and then later started an aluminum tank distributorship, LC Tanks. In 2004, he told Pumper that IME was the first company to introduce full-opening rear doors and hoisted tanks, and brought Moro pumps to the U.S. market. Charlet also served as president of Kentucky-based IBEX, which manufactured vacuum trucks and dewatering systems.

In a 2012 letter in Pumper, Charlet announced the sale of LC Tanks and his retirement after 45 years in the liquid waste industry. Charlet was a U.S. Navy veteran. Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Kentucky Chapter, 6100 Dutchmans Lane, Suite 401, Louisville, KY 40206-3506.


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