Dennis Rethmeier, center, with his wife
Jan and sons Ryan, left, and Derek.
n a M e : Western Pump, Inc.
a D D r e S S : San Diego, CA, and
F o C u S : Construction and servicing
of fleet fueling facilities, aviation, retail
service stations, convenience stores,
marinas and vehicle maintenance
eMpLo Yees: 53
Fun FaCt: Western Pump is a true
family business, with sons Ryan and
Derek, and son-in-law Russell Quaid
joining parents Dennis and Jan Rethmeier
as active employees in the company.
Daughter Dana also worked at the
company for five years but is—at least for
now—a “stay-at-home mom.”
1 8 | pei.org | First Quarter 2011
dISTRIcT 9 dISTRIBuTOR
WeSTeRn PumP, Inc.
of a Lifetime
THe YeAr wAs 1988. Af Ter 22 years working for big, international companies,
Dennis Rethmeier was ready to
become an entrepreneur. Before
taking the leap, he looked at a bunch
of businesses. A cabinet manufacturer.
An electronic parts distributor. A
business that served legal papers. A
landscape/nursery. And a sausage-
making business—an enterprise that
Dennis recalls today “might have been
the most profitable of them all.”
Some of the companies were too
big. Some were too small. But one
business seemed just right—Western
Pump, a then-40-year-old petroleum
equipment distributor in San Diego.
Twenty-three years later, Dennis’
decision to purchase Western
Pump has proved itself many times
over. Western Pump is now one of
the largest petroleum equipment
companies in California—and
twice has been recognized as one of
“California’s Best Places to Work.” It
also is the platform from which Dennis
now serves as PEI’s 61st president.
A LOng rOAD
Dennis’ early career looked very
different than the professional life he
now leads. After graduating from the
University of Colorado in 1966, he
joined the chemicals division of Vulcan
Materials, a Fortune 500 company with
thousands of employees.
After a couple of years with Vulcan
in Wichita, Kan., and Chicago, Ill.,
Dennis took a regional sales manager
position with Cabot Corporation,
another Fortune 500 company. By
1984, he was in Champaign, Ill.,
working as director of sales and
marketing for a Cabot division
that produced a chemical used for
reinforcing silicon elastomers and
improving flow properties of paint and
ink, as well as polishing silicon wafers
in the semiconductor industry.
Five years later, Cabot asked Dennis
if he would move to San Diego to
become president of a new high-tech
acquisition, Spectrum Ceramics.
It didn’t take long for him to say
yes. Professionally, it was a fantastic