First jobs: I sold vacuum cleaners, worked briefly in a Gucci store, and then came into the family business as a manager trainee.
Other venture: Magerko is also president of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa. The luxury 2,800-acre retreat in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, another Joe Hardy creation, includes hotels, townhomes, restaurants, golf courses and a world-class spa.
What is the greatest business lesson you’ve learned?
Hire good people, cultivate their talents, encourage them and give them lots of reasons to stay with you. My dad always said, ‘Never be afraid to hire people smarter than you.’ But you can’t be scared to let people go, either. When they don’t fit, it’s like a broken cog in a machine. If you don’t replace it, nothing works right.
What is the most difficult challenge you’ve faced?
Some years ago, there was just too much ego, personality and testosterone among the top-tier executives. They were very competitive, and it was getting in the way of working together. What I needed was a team.
Now I’ve got one. I’ve had the same core group of seven people with me for the past six years. We’re able to grow the way we have because we have a solid leadership team in place.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
Be serious about what you do, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
Whom do you admire most in business and why?
My father. He started with only $5,000 and built this business with nothing but his incredible work ethic, his passion and his determination. He’s a living example of the American Dream.
We’ve been best buddies since I was 5 years old and started driving around with him looking at potential sites for new stores. I watched him my whole life, and he was teaching me things even when he wasn’t trying to. He has always been my mentor.