The humble beginnings of Hardy Diagnostics

“Many people have asked me how I got started in business.

First of all, you will need to know that our company, currently consisting of 430 co-workers, manufactures culture media that microbiologists use in the laboratory. Culture media is what we call the “bug food” that bacteria and fungi feast upon in order for microbiologists to determine the identity of the pathogen and to help determine how to kill them in order to restore the health of the patient.

The year was 1980, and I had just finished a one year internship at a hospital in Santa Barbara to train as a Medical Technologist. These are people that are licensed to conduct laboratory tests in a clinical setting. The requirements are a bachelor’s degree and a rigorous year of practical training in the hospital lab. After finishing and passing the California State Board exams, my dream had been realized and I had finally become full-fledged Medical Technologist.

However, there were no jobs available at the time! Having come from the LA area, spending a year in the Central Coast of California was like paradise to me, so I very much wanted to stay in Santa Barbara. Being disappointed and dejected about not being able to find work in my new profession, I was talking to my friend who had also completed the internship. We did not know which way to turn, but somehow came up with the idea of making culture media. My father was an entrepreneurial pharmacist who operated many drug stores during his career, so starting a new business seemed to be a somewhat natural path for me to follow.

So my friend and I started our fledgling business on a shoestring budget. We rented two small rooms in what had once been a motel in Santa Barbara. After borrowing $10,000 from each of our Dads, and rescuing some antiquated equipment from a trash heap, our little business was ready to be launched. We started with one customer, which was the hospital where we had trained. Over the years, we began to service more and more hospitals in Central California, and eventually grew to a company that now supplies over 10,000 laboratory customers worldwide with over 13,000 products that are used in the laboratory.

I often stop and wonder how different my life would have been if I had gotten my wish and had been offered a job back in 1980. I am constantly reminded of one of my favorite sayings when faced with adversity, which is the Marines’ motto: “Adapt, Improvise, Overcome.” We did just that, and I’m now enjoying the ride with no regrets!” – Jay Hardy

Jay Hardy, CLS, SM(NRCM), Founder and part-owner.
Jay Hardy, CLS, SM(NRCM),
Co-Founder and President.

Hardy Diagnostics may have had humble beginnings but since has grown to become one of the top producers of culture media in the country! Not only that, but Hardy Diagnostics has the unique distinction of being a 100% employee owned company. The Hardy Diagnostics ESOP was created in 2012, and in October 2015, Mr. Hardy sold the remainder of his majority share in Hardy Diagnostics back to his employees. Hardy Diagnostics now operates as a 100% Employee Owned ESOP.

Read more about ESOP’s, employee ownership, and the Father of ESOP’s- Louis Kelso.

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