After his service in World War II, Hardy worked at his uncle’s jewelry store, later graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, and opened Green Hills Lumber in Bridgeville, Pa.
A few years later, he pooled resources with his two brothers and two of his friends to pay for land and buildings for a new venture, the cost of which totaled $84,000.
With determination and vision, 84 Lumber, a new cash- and-carry lumber business, opened in the town of Eighty Four, Pa. Under Hardy’s leadership and tireless work ethic, 84 Lumber expanded and became the largest privately owned building materials supplier in the country.
In his obituary, Joe’s daughter Maggie Hardy wrote: “My father was always asking, ‘What’s next?’ He wanted to conquer the next challenge or make something even better. He taught us never to be satisfied and push to be better today than we were yesterday. He had an infectious outlook and personality that inspired people. He never missed an opportunity to teach a lesson in business or in life. And he valued his people more than anything.”
Hardy went on to earn an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Washington & Jefferson College in 1984. He also established a program at the college for the study and encouragement of entrepreneurship.