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18-year-old Spartanburg player co-owns business, plays USTA JTT

July 19, 2014 04:00 PM

By Jonathon Braden
USTA South Carolina

FLORENCE, S.C. – Barrett Hardy wasn’t sure he would have time for the USTA South Carolina Jr. Team Tennis State Championships this weekend.

Hardy, 18, has been busy running the Spartanburg construction business he co-owns, Hardy & Jenkins Contracting.

Hardy finds workers for his company’s jobs. He manages the 10 to 12 workers at each job site. He even lays brick or stone alongside his employees.

Hardy is involved with nearly every aspect of the business, said co-owner Anthony Jenkins.

And to think, just a couple months ago, Hardy was still in high school.

As long as I’ve been knowing him,” Jenkins said, “he’s not your normal, typical kid.”

Hardy met Jenkins when Hardy was in eighth grade. Jenkins started helping Hardy lift weights and train.

A couple of years later, Hardy wanted to have some spending money. He liked to hunt and fish, and he wanted some cash for a fishing rod and camouflage gear.

Plus, he said, “I like money in my pocket.”

But instead of feeling sorry for himself or begging his parents for money, Hardy thought of the many days he had spent working on his grandfather’s farm in North Carolina, and he got to work.

He knocked on neighbors’ doors, asking them if they needed someone to take care of their lawns. With some clients lined up, he approached construction companies, places with big lots to mow.

Hardy eventually acquired a riding mower to help him grow his business. And his grandpa gave his grandson a trailer to help him more easily complete other projects.

Hardy also joined forces with Jenkins, who has been in the construction business on and off for about 25 years. Hardy & Jenkins Contracting now completes demolition jobs, landscaping work, home repairs, and roofing work.

Hardy’s role in the business also has changed. He went from doing all of the work, to doing some of the work and managing most of it.

At job sites, he supervises some but also gets his hands dirty. He works with his employees, he said, because “you don’t want to be looking down at someone.”

Most of Hardy’s workers are more than double his age, Jenkins said, but the workers don’t know that. “And they never ask,” Jenkins said. “As far as they’re concerned, they think he’s out of college.”

Hardy sees the workers often. He’s frequently running around to sites, picking up equipment, and talking with employees.

The guys work real hard for him,” Jenkins said. “We haven’t had a problem where I need to come in behind and straighten out some guys.”

Hardy’s business and tennis careers have busied his summer. He works on the business from about 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. In the evening, he works out with Jenkins and plays tennis.

This fall, Hardy plans to study engineering at The Citadel in Charleston and play tennis for Hall of Fame coach Chuck Kriese.

Earlier this month, Hardy was serious when he told his USTA Jr. Team Tennis coach, Sherry Pellegrino, that he wasn’t sure if he’d make it to this weekend’s state championships in Florence.

But Pellegrino left him few options. “You will be here,” she told him.

And then Hardy learned a life lesson applicable to business: During some scenarios, some people are always right.

In business, it’s the customer. In USTA Jr. Team Tennis, it’s the motherly coach.