In fact, Hardy thinks in the long run it was better that 84 Lumber faced turmoil during the economic downturn under his daughter’s leadership.
The company ended up changing product lines to better serve customers connected to the Marcellus Shale gas production and expanding installed sales.
“It was probably good for the company that she went through it because it will happen again,” he says, adding that now she has her doctorate in business.
The ability to make quick decisions without the need for a consensus vote is the reason why Hardy never took 84 Lumber public. He wanted the flexibility to stay ahead of the game, watch the trends and react, and not be afraid to hang up something that’s a loser.
Over the past few years, Hardy even had his first foray into politics as a county commissioner. He says it was enjoyable and he learned a lot, but they just didn’t make decisions fast enough.
“It’s been a lot of fun. Again, you have to enjoy what you’re doing,” Hardy says. “I have my phone right beside my bed. I don’t punch in and punch out, but I’m always thinking of something.
“I’m more active than I’ve ever been. I’ve got to keep moving. Somebody said I had to retire. Oh my gosh, I don’t know what I’d do.”
- Stay contemporary and always be curious to see another method.
- Invest in your people — provide room to grow and recognize outstanding service.
- Focus on both the big and little things.
The Hardy File:
Name: Joseph “Joe” Hardy
Company: 84 Lumber, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
Education: Started at Lehigh University before volunteering for World War II, and later graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with an engineering degree.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it? It was probably cutting grass for the neighbors. I also had a great vegetable garden while I was going to school, and I would sell vegetables at the University of Pittsburgh.
I had some very discriminating customers. They were really particular. I’d hear about it if they had a certain vine or I left some grass. You learn that it’s detail, detail, detail.
Everything I’ve ever done I’ve gotten something out that I’ve used.
What is the best business advice you ever received? My mother gave me the best advice. She would tell me every day: “You’re something special and you’re going to amount to something.” There was no “I love you.” It was always “You’re something special and you’re going to amount to something.”
That was a dirty trick. I didn’t know what I was going to amount to, but she had me believing. It was like a curse or something.
Over the years, I’ve tried to be around people who are accomplishing things and have the same sort of attitude that I have, which is “Let’s get on with it; come on, come on, let’s go.”
If you meet with the best of the best, you can gain something all the time.
Today, at age 91, what do you enjoy doing? I get the biggest kick out of being sort of a mentor or influence over some younger person and then seeing them succeed to higher things, whatever it is. That gives me great fulfillment.
Do you have a favorite part of Nemacolin that you like to visit? Well, that is where I live. I have a lovely home there, and I can go to any one of those places to do the different things. If I want to get a massage, I can. Or I can go there and play golf.
People come to me — and they pay for it. It’s a nice arrangement. I can go over to the cigar bar and sit down and meet people. Just the other day, I had a nice talk with the guy from Under Armour Inc. (CEO Kevin Plank) and what he’s done with this athletic suit thing.