Family’s at the heart of business

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It’s been 40 years since E&F Sauder Sales and Service Ltd. opened for business on the corner of Herrgott Road and Line 86 in Wallenstein.

What has kept the humble lawn and garden equipment outlet and small engine repair shop going strong for all those years?

“You always listen to the customer and you do the best that you can to provide them with the optimal service that they want,” explained Darrell Sauder, eldest son of business founders Elo and Florence Sauder. “Whether it’s making a machine run because they have a special event and they need it for that weekend, or it’s for a contractor that needs their equipment fixed right away, we need to take care of them or we won’t have them as customers. Those are things that dad has always emphasized; being super friendly with our customers, and that’s my goal as well, to always treat them with respect and courtesy because I always like to be treated that way myself.”

Respect and honesty are constants with the Sauders.

Florence explained why they’ve worked so well together.

“We all respect each other,” she said. “Really, it’s been the best part of the business, being together with family.”

Darrell, who came on board in the early ’80s as a mechanic, echoed her sentiment.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be able to work alongside my parents all of these years,” he said. “I’ve always respected and appreciated their opinions and I’ve learned a lot through that and I’m always very open to their suggestions and ideas realizing that they’ve been very successful all these years and I want it to continue to be that way.”

The mechanic’s blood runs deep in the Sauder family, with Elo picking up the knowledge and skills to repair equipment on his family farm from his father. After working in the field in Elmira in his late teens and early 20s, Elo and Florence decided to take the leap out on their own in the fall of 1975, with a small 1,000-square-foot space where the current store still sits.

At first, Elo was the sole mechanic and salesman in the shop, while Florence took care of the books and the office work. But through hard work, the pair were eventually able to add staff, and some 3,500 square feet to the operation.

The couple also credits Darrell for the business’s success.

“We would never have been as big without Darrell,” Elo said. “We would have kept going, but it wouldn’t have grown like it has.”

Now, a third generation is starting to get involved in the business, as Darrell’s son Jordan is working as a mechanic for a co-op course at school.

“It’s something that I really enjoy, when he’s back there (in the shop) and comes up here and asks for some help, I get to take the time to show him, and also explain to him why (the machine) is doing what it’s doing,” Darrell said. “I’m taking this opportunity to not just show him how it’s done but also to teach him so that he learns for when he’s troubleshooting on his own, he can actually start piecing things together in a way that makes sense. Some of it is theory and some of it is mechanics.”

Reflecting on the 40th anniversary milestone, and the addition of Jordan to the shop, the Sauders are proud of the business they have built.

“It’s nice to know that once we walk away, it will still keep going,” Florence said.

The E&F Sauder Sales and Service Ltd. 40th anniversary open house runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. October 3 with free coffee and donuts in the morning and a chicken barbeque at lunch. There will also be wood carving by Luke Andrews, equipment demonstrations and door prizes at the store, 4790 Herrgott Rd. in Wallenstein.