Leadership

TBD Salutes Three Legends Who Leave A Lasting Mark On Building

Take a moment to reflect on three homebuilding's giants, and celebrate each's gift that keeps on giving ... especially in times like now.

Leadership

TBD Salutes Three Legends Who Leave A Lasting Mark On Building

Take a moment to reflect on three homebuilding's giants, and celebrate each's gift that keeps on giving ... especially in times like now.

January 13th, 2023
TBD Salutes Three Legends Who Leave A Lasting Mark On Building
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A tribute to one of American home construction's most storied individuals – ever – starts like this:

Joseph Hardy of 84 Lumber fame has been described as Homeric, a lumber baron and even chairman of the boards. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 7, 2023

You cannot make this stuff up.

Home building and construction's epic figures – and their ranks run deep and wide, from the urban boulevards to the rural backwaters of American community – in many cases come into the business as sons and daughters of founders, or as sons and daughters of immigrants, or, simply, as sons and daughters who one-day awaken to the trade's almost primal calling ... to help shelter other people's sons and daughters.

By whatever means and through whatever doorway they start into the field to take up one of its numberless livelihoods, the legend a few of them forge in their own lifetime and leave behind is largely of his or her own making.

No one gave Joe Hardy a free pass to his heroic biography. Magnate, bon vivant, patriarch, even a term others attached to his name that he personally denied, "visionary" – were byproducts of unapologetic intent, every waking moment for a century. His "champagne wishes and caviar dreams" were made of common stuff he fired and forged into an uncommon life. He hand-built all he had and was on an empire of lovingly-earned and nourished personal capital that proved every bit as empowering as the troves of financial wealth he amassed. The Post-Gazette notes:

For 75 years, Mr. Hardy would begin every day, whether at home or on vacation, calling 84 Lumber’s top 70 revenue-generating stores from the day before. He would tell whoever picked up the phone that they were doing a good job and to keep up the good work, starting the calls around 8 a.m. and continuing for about an hour."

In the mid-1940s, he clerked part-time at a downtown Pittsburgh jewelry shop, Hardy & Hayes, co-owned by his father. As the story goes, this potential career path ended when his personal style of hustle outshone a respected elder at the store. His father's own brother invited him to pursue his dreams elsewhere. The industrial engineering degree he was studying for at University of Pittsburgh instantly mattered more in the gestalt of his livelihood.

Joe Hardy makes a category unto himself as a construction legend. Passing away on one's 100th birthday – a feat such as that is – is but one of many reasons his stature when it comes to assessing and honoring contribution, influence, and impact in America's construction community stands at a level a rare few achieve.

This week, the homebuilding community, also suffered the loss of two other men who wove a legend out of the double-helix of their life's vocation and the neighborhood byways and roofs over the heads of other people's children.

Paul Estridge Jr., – who reignited his family legacy homebuilding brand in 2013 and rebuilt the firm into one of Indiana's regional powerhouse operators, died Sunday, January 7, at the age of 65.

Paul Estridge and Paul Estridge Jr.

Bob Snyder, co-founder with his wife Pat in 1976 of the Burlington, Vermont-area's Snyder Homes – winner of Builder's America's Best Builders in 2006, died Tuesday evening, January 10.

Paul Estridge – current Estridge Homes ceo Clint Mitchell remembers of Indiana's regional legend – was one whose relentless belief in neighborhoods was fuel and flame in what made the company brand stand out among local, regional, and national rivals.

What made Estridge’s approach unique, Estridge Homes CEO Clint Mitchell said, was his neighborhood-first approach, bringing a focus on parks, amenities and streetscapes to the communities he developed. He knew today's homebuyers wanted leisure activities close to home.
“He thought a lot about our customer, the lifestyle that someone wants to live in their home, the importance of it,” Mitchell said. – Indy Star

A throughline – from work to life and back again – comes through in the way Paul Estridge's younger sister, Sherry McNutt, expresses his nature, DNA, and behavior:

He shared everything,” she said. “He shared his wealth. He shared his knowledge.” Indy Star

Martin Freedland a longtime friend and advisor of Bob Snyder and his team notes that, under Bob Snyder's wing, Snyder Homes became a rarity among homebuilding operators – private or public – for having achieved and sustained 90% customer satisfaction scores and 10% net profitability on a consistent basis.

"He was a good guy who brought out the best in people around him," says Freedland, who mentioned that homebuilding firm principals and executives this week have poured in notes, paying their respects to a man that many of them held up as an example of how to lead a homebuilding firm.

Joe Hardy, Paul Estridge, Bob Snyder each forged themselves in the furnace of purpose – like all of homebuilding and construction's famed pioneers and heroes – cast in every case of the same everyday raw materials we all get to work with, but forged into something truly rare and special.

Beneath the roofs builders build, other people's children live. And their children, and their parents, and grandparents, and friends. They laugh, cry, discover, make a memory, strive, enthuse, feel pain, doubt and fear as they live out real life beneath these roofs, in these neighborhoods. So, it should be no wonder then, that builders, whose lives, livelihoods, mission, and purpose fuse with the lives of other people's children, become part of a broader, deeper story.

Not all magic and myth, but rather something simpler, more elegant, more profound, real. There's no better time than now to appreciate the gift that keeps on giving in their leadership and legacy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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