84 Lumber Founder Joe Hardy Dies on 100th Birthday - Modern Distribution Management

84 Lumber Founder Joe Hardy Dies on 100th Birthday

Started in a vacant basement, 84 Lumber has expanded to become the United States' largest privately-owned building materials distributor.

Building materials distributor 84 Lumber announced over the weekend that Joseph A. Hardy III, the company’s founder, died Jan. 7 on what was his 100th birthday, surrounded by family at his home in Farmington, Pennsylvania.

Joseph A. Hardy III

“Joe proved that nothing is impossible by willing himself to his 100th birthday,” a family statement read, provided by 84 Lumber. “His family is beyond proud of him for making this final accomplishment.

“The Hardy family lost their patriarch and all-around great man. Many knew Joe as a brilliant businessman and enthusiastic entrepreneur. Even with his vast success, Joe always remembered what matters most: people. He helped make the American dream real for so many, and he will be greatly missed.”

After serving as a lieutenant and Air Forces radioman during World War II, Hardy graduated from the University of Pittsburgh before teaming up with two brothers and a childhood friend to start Green Hills Lumber in a vacant basement in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. 

Joseph A. Hardy III

A few years later in 1956, that business became 84 Lumber as a cash-and-carry lumber business in the town of Eighty Four, Pennsylvania. It soon expanded to eventually become the largest privately-owned building materials supplier in the United States.

84 Lumber was No. 4 on MDM’s 2022 Top Building Materials/Construction Distributors list with $7.9 billion in 2021 revenue.

In 1985, Hardy was named to the Forbes 400 as one of the wealthiest people in the world, repeating that accolade in later years as well. In 1987, Hardy developed what would eventually become 2,800-acre AAA Four Diamond Nemacolin Resort in Farmington. He went on to found real estate development firm, Hardy World, LLC, in 2017.

84 Lumber noted that Hardy handed over control of the company and the Nemacolin Resort to his daughter, Maggie Hardy, and his vision continues to inspire both businesses.

“My father was always asking, ‘What’s next?’’ Maggie Hardy said in the company’s statement. “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.”

The company also noted Hardy’s significant philanthropic contributions.

See 84 Lumber’s full family statement here.

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