Interview by Shyanne French

Jennie Hardeman

Jennie Hardeman is a resident of Decatur for twenty years now. She had been living in the Netherlands before deciding to move to Decatur. Deciding to move to Decatur was not a fast decision. The chamber of the government from Nebraska was in the Netherlands and they liked the steel buildings that Nico (Jennie’s husband) built instead of the wooden morton buildings built in Nebraska.

The chamber of the government had asked Nico to come to Nebraska and make steel buildings. Nico agreed and went to Nebraska to build steel buildings. Nico loved working in Nebraska. He had called his wife (Jennie) and was very excited and had told her that she and the family needed to go to Nebraska because it was that amazing.

Jennie’s family had loved Nebraska as well. A while after they had to go back to the Netherlands. They now had a decision to make, to move to Nebraska or to stay in the Netherlands. They had decided to move to Nebraska once one of their boys had graduated school. After moving they developed their company called Hardsteel. It is a very successful business.

“We were all very happy with our decision to move because of everything we were able to achieve. It is much easier building steel buildings here in Nebraska than it was in the Netherlands because everything there was so expensive,” Jennie said. I asked Jennie if she had any advice for anyone who would like to start their own business and she replied with, “I would say you need to work hard and be fair. Working hard is the key to a successful company really.”

Jennie is a very caring person and is very easy to talk to. I enjoyed her company so much I had stayed to visit with her after the interview was done. Jennie has had a wonderful life which allows her to have so many amazing and interesting stories.

Another question I had asked Jennie was “What would you say you are most proud of today?” Right as I asked she knew exactly what she was going to say. With gleaming eyes and no hesitation she said, “Easily my grandchildren. I love them very much, they bring so much joy into my life!” Of all the questions I had asked her that one was my favorite, just because she answered it with so much pride and a great big smile.

One of the most difficult things I heard while interviewing Jennie was after I had asked her about what was her greatest challenge in life. Immediately Jennie’s voice became shaky and came out with, “Losing my mom and dad. Not having them around and having to learn to do things without them.”

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