SIGEL -- Several local families have started and sustained businesses in Sigel, and one example is that of a sprawling farm machinery business located on U.S. Route 45.
Sigel Equipment was started in 1965 by Wilbur and Eleanor Fearday and is now in its fourth generation of family operation. The family business includes a great-grandson of the couple.
“Originally it was one building run by Wilbur Fearday. He had farmed and started selling machinery. It was just a small, one-person operation,” said Cheryl Fearday, company secretary and wife of Tony Fearday, one of Wilbur’s sons.
What began with Wilbur and his wife, Eleanor, as secretary, eventually blossomed into bringing on the eldest Fearday son, Mike, in 1972, to help. Later, Tony Fearday, Gene Fearday and Phillip Fearday all joined the growing company. Each of them first studied or obtained degrees in agriculture, farm mechanics or business. Two employees from outside the family were added, too.
The farm machinery business involves pick up and delivery of equipment, attending auction sales, making machinery repairs and plenty more. It has semi-trucks and a flat-bed truck on the road each day in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Iowa and Pennsylvania. Business has even been done in Australia, South Africa and Belize, Cheryl Fearday said.
As the business continues to grow, they are also seeing repeat customers. Now with its business also on the Web, more customers are finding Sigel Equipment and sales are being done online, too.
The business expanded with a new building in 1981 to allow for more work space and a place for the semi trucks to come in. In 2012, that was torn down and a much larger building was erected that includes an office and increased work space for the equipment and trucks. This past summer, Sigel Equipment added on a heated wash bay and additional work space.
But it’s not all about the family. It’s also about the community. The majority of the family resides in or near Sigel and they are there to help out when someone needs something. She said Sigel is also very community oriented and people pull together to help out the school, churches and events. Sigel Equipment is also there in a time of need.
“They are willing to help people in the community who might need a helping hand. We get calls to rent out equipment for a short time or make a quick repair. People know our home phone numbers and know how to reach us,” she said.
According to the 150th Celebration book, Wilbur Fearday died in 2011 and Eleanor Fearday died in 2012. She was the oldest resident in Sigel then at age 96.