84 Lumber

Joseph A. Hardy III, the founder of 84 Lumber and Nemacolin Resort, died Jan. 7 on his 100th birthday.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Joseph A. Hardy III. 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. Joe proved that nothing is impossible by willing himself to his 100th birthday. His family is beyond proud of him for making this final accomplishment,” the Hardy family said in a statement released by 84 Lumber.

Hardy was born in Upper St. Clair Township, outside of Pittsburgh. During his final year at Lehigh University, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and served as a radioman during World War II. In 1946, Hardy began working for his father in the family-owned jewelry store and attended the University of Pittsburgh, earning a degree in industrial engineering.

“My father was always asking, ‘What's’ next?’ He wanted to conquer the next challenge or make something even better,” Maggie Hardy shared in his obituary. “He taught us never to be satisfied and to 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.”

With his brothers and two of his friends, Hardy pooled resources to pay for land and buildings for a new venture, the cost of which totaled $84,000. 84 Lumber, a cash-and-carry lumber business, opened in Eighty Four, Pennsylvania, and under Hardy’s leadership expanded to operate stores in more than 30 states across the United States. In 1992, Hardy appointed his daughter, Maggie, as the president of 84 Lumber. According to 84 Lumber, up until the end of his life, he made daily phone calls to the top 70 stores with 84 Lumber to congratulate them on their daily sales and top margins.

“The 84 Lumber family lost our founder, patriarch, and all-around great man. He often believed in us more than we believed in ourselves,” a statement provided by Amy Smiley, 84 Lumber’s vice president of marketing, said. “At 84, we will continue the work that Joe started. And we are thankful for everything he did for us.”

Hardy earned an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Washington & Jefferson College and was elected to the University of Pittsburgh’s board of trustees in 1989.

In 1987, Hardy purchased the land that would become the site of Nemacolin Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania. He expanded the former hunting lodge and developed the property into a 2,800-acre AAA Four Diamond resort. In 2017, he founded real estate development firm Hardy World. The firm has completed several projects in eight states, with a focus on development of urban infill projects and industrial properties.

Hardy was a philanthropist for universities and charitable organizations. In addition to supporting Washington & Jefferson College, California University of Pennsylvania, and West Virginia University, he support numerous charities, including the Boy Scouts of America, Washington County Food Bank, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, United Way, and Pennsylvania Classic Foundation.

“Joe was a true American success story,” Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security director and governor of Pennsylvania, shared. “And he was a true gentleman. He could have demanded to be treated like a tycoon, but instead he wanted to be known as Joe.”

Hardy is survived by his wife Jodi Hardy, eight children, three stepchildren, 15 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren.