EAST FALLOWFIELD TOWNSHIP — Being recognized at the 2019 Crawford County Agriculture Hall of Fame & Ag Industry Awards was not something Leland Sayles was expecting.
As a mechanic and farmer, he was surprised to find out he was chosen for the recognition this year along with beekeeper Charlie Vorisek of Conneaut Township and Gary Theuret, a retired owner of Theuret Excavating and decades-long "manure man" of the Crawford County Fair.
Sayles grew up on a family dairy farm in Hartstown and studied diesel mechanics at the now-Crawford County Career & Technical Center. Afterward, he went to a trade school in Blairsville for auto and diesel mechanics. All that training led to stints at Oswald Equipment in Hartstown and Larimer Ford Tractor in Greenville before he moved to Elder’s Ag and Turf in Stoneboro. After the Elders sold the business, it became LandPro Equipment, but Sayles has remained since 1993.
"I’m the parts manager there," Sayles said. "Basically, I work with the ag and rural customers all day long with their parts-related problems. I’m very appreciative of the customers that I’ve had over the years. I’ve been very fortunate to work for some good families that had the operations. They ran a good business."
Sayles said he's worked with all sorts of farming-related machines during his decades as a mechanic and parts manager.
"Just about anything in agriculture, I’ve been involved with it, as far as machinery, from the smallest to the biggest," Sayles said.
In addition to the mechanical side of things, Sayles also works with a herd of beef cattle on his farm part-time. He explained his great-grandfather purchased the property in 1872 — almost 150 years ago.
"We certainly have seen huge changes in agriculture as far as the number and size of farms," Sayles said. "It’s a major part of Crawford County’s economy. It’s one of those things that the family — that’s their lifestyle and what they love."
Sayles' wife, Karen, noted her husband does "everything possible" to get people the parts they need for their equipment, even bringing parts up to Crawford County for local residents to pick them up. She said he works on Amish machinery as well.
"I think he’s really surprised at getting the honor, and he’s very shy," Karen said. "And he doesn’t think about helping people, he just does it. A lot of people know him and respect him, and they know that he does what he can for them and tries to help all the farmers around."
Harry Elder, former owner of Elder’s Ag and Turf and now a manager at LandPro Equipment, said Sayles always went "the extra mile" for his co-workers and even strangers, helping folks dig out their cars in heavy snow.
"He devoted his whole entire life to agriculture," Elder said. "He's always done whatever he could to keep the farmer in the field."
When asked how he felt upon learning he would be entered in the Hall of Fame, Sayles said, "It’s very humbling, and I’m very appreciative of it."
Tyler Dague can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.