Influential businessman Joseph A. Hardy III passed away on Saturday, Jan. 7, the day of his 100th birthday. Hardy was known for his vast success in the building materials industry, growing 84 Lumber into a billion-dollar company.
"The residential construction industry lost a true pioneer with the passing of Joe Hardy," said NAHB Chairman Jerry Konter. "He changed the game in the building materials market and NAHB truly appreciates our long relationship with 84 Lumber. Our thoughts are with his family, colleagues and friends as we celebrate his amazing life."
Hardy was born and raised in Pittsburgh. During his senior year at Lehigh University, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and served as a radioman in the South Pacific during World War II. After the war, he completed his education at the University of Pittsburgh, earning a degree in Industrial Engineering.
With childhood friend Ed Ryan, of Ryan Homes fame, and brothers Norman and Bob, Hardy started Green Hills Lumber in a vacant basement. This business would grow and eventually become 84 Lumber, named after Eighty Four, Pa., where it was headquartered. Under Hardy's leadership and tireless work ethic, 84 Lumber expanded and became the largest privately owned building materials supplier in the world, with stores in 30 states and employing more than 6,000 associates.
Hardy's success in the business world garnered attention and accolades. In 1985, he was named by Forbes as one of the wealthiest people in the world. He was elected by Venture Magazine as Entrepreneur of the Year in 1987. Hardy also earned an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Washington & Jefferson College for his outstanding achievements. The University of Pittsburgh elected him to the board of trustees in 1989.
84 Lumber has been an important part of the NAHB Federation for years. The company was one of the first to target home builders on a national level and paved the way for the building materials business model commonly used today. Many 84 Lumber executives have been important leaders within the Federation at all levels.
A public funeral service for Hardy will be held on Thursday, Jan. 12 at 11 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh followed by full military honors. Interment will be private.