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‘West Virginia was where I learned work ethic’ — 84 Lumber president, CEO helps dedicate new store in Sabraton

Lots of heavy lifting in the lumberyard.

Maggie Hardy knows.

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “I threw my back out twice.”

That’s what happens, she said, when you work in just about every department and just about every job at 84 Lumber.

Her dad, Joe Hardy, the iconic entrepreneur, founded the building materials chain in rural Eighty-Four, Pa., in 1956.

It was the American Dream – in sawdust.

Today, the operation includes 310 stores in 35 states, including West Virginia.

Hardy, the daughter, who is now president and CEO, came back home, as it were, on a brisk, sunny Thursday morning to introduce the chain’s newest location at 3208 Earl L. Core Road.

Make that, a reintroduction. The 84 Lumber store that had been right down the road needed a bigger space.  

Her company, meanwhile, has had a corporate presence in Morgantown since 1976 – and she has a connection, too.

She attended WVU for a couple of years.

Then, she dropped out, and her dad hired her.

Thursday’s event, during which a saw and a board took the place of a ribbon and the requisite giant scissors, was about saying hello, all over again.

It carried the vibe of a block party just as much as it did a corporate gathering.

While a bluegrass band was playing tunes, a buffet of West Virginia comfort foods was spread out.

There was even a hot air balloon, Ferris wheel and mechanical bull on the premises.

After Hardy slayed the crowd with one-liners and asides about her self-described, misspent undergraduate days – “I had the hot tub right across the street from the Towers” – she got down to serious business at the podium for the university she still considers her alma mater.

She presented a $50,000 scholarship to WVU, which carries a very specific directive to its students who have worn the uniform in service of their country.

It’s earmarked for students who are veterans, on active duty, or enrolled in ROTC programs with a military commitment to follow.

Memorial Day is Monday – but the parking lot of the new Sabraton store will carry the message every working day.

A purple-shaded spot right up front has been set aside for those Purple Heart patrons wounded in combat.

Hardy also praised 84 Lumber employees she’s known along the way, particularly those in West Virginia, where she helped out every one of the state’s 14 stores on her way up.

“West Virginia was where I learned work ethic,” she said.

“I loved being in the stores. I loved working in the stores. I loved the smell of wood.”

She also loves both that 84 Lumber’s Sabraton location has expanded its DIY services while offering up experts for consults and help in kitchen designs – and that today and Saturday will offer a full slate of fun activities to celebrate the new store.

Hardy these days also loves looking forward to November, when the Sabraton store will be a stopping point for the journey to Washington, D.C., of the 2023 U.S. Capital Christmas Tree.

Known affectionately as “The People’s Tree,” it will be harvested from the Monongahela National Forest and adorn the White House for the holidays.

This is the second year in a row 84 Lumber is serving as the tree’s presenting sponsor.

These days, she looks back with affection at her dad, who died this past Jan. 9, on his 100th birthday.

As a boss, his daughter said, Joe Hardy wasn’t afraid to let his employees fail.

“He just put us out here,” Maggie Hardy said, “and we learned.”