Once he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with an Engineering degree, Joe joined the family's Hardy & Hayes jewelry company. At age 31, and with the burning desire to build his own business, Joe left Hardy & Hayes. At the suggestion of a friend, he looked into the building materials supply business and opened Green Hills Lumber. A few years later, Joe pooled his resources with his two younger brothers and a friend to purchase a tract of land in the rural town of Eighty Four, Pennsylvania. There, in 1956, he opened a “cash and carry” lumberyard focused on professional homebuilders in the tri-state region of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Joe liked the name of the small town and decided to name his new business 84 Lumber.
In addition to 84 Lumber, Joe founded Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, one of North America's premier resort destinations. Located in Farmington, Pennsylvania, Nemacolin is a four-season playground nestled on 2,000 acres of the Allegheny Mountains. The resort offers diverse lodging options, including the AAA Five-Diamond Falling Rock boutique hotel; an impressive assortment of dining outlets such as the Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond Lautrec; and an art collection of various mediums. Visitors can also choose from a range of activities, including Pete Dye-designed golf, fly fishing, and off-road driving. There’s also a world-class spa and a Holistic Healing Center.
Joe eventually handed over control of 84 Lumber and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort to his daughter Maggie Hardy, but his vision continued to inspire both businesses.
Joe was a full-time resident and longtime advocate of Fayette County, Pennsylvania. His business experience and desire to support the area have helped create jobs and a better tax base. In 2003, Joe ran for a seat as a Fayette County commissioner. He was elected and served as vice chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Fayette County from 2004 to 2007.