First African-American hired at MetLife recalls his first day on the job

Man celebrates retirement after 50 years on the job

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (WSFA) - Retirement is a big deal. Now, imagine retiring after 50 years at one job and making history along the way. A Montgomery man shares his story of his first day on the job and how an encounter with a co-worker motivated him to work harder.

Charlie Hardy was 28 years old when he walked into MetLife Insurance Company in Tuskegee in 1969 to resolve an issue with his insurance policy. By the time he walked out he was offered a job.

“Came back the following day we had a conversation and he said, ‘Well, you sound like a person we can really use. Let’s go talk to the district manager,” Hardy said.

He took a test and was hired, becoming the first African-American to work for the company in Alabama. The work was rewarding. He won many awards, became apart of The Million Dollar Round Table, was known as a go-getter, and part of his motivation came from a comment from a white co-worker the day he started.

He said he wouldn’t worry about learning his [Hardy’s] name, implying Hardy wouldn’t be there long. Hardy said he took it as a challenge and the two never spoke about what happened until years later when Hardy was honored for 20 years of service to the company.

“I put his name on my guest list and I addressed him. I thanked him and told him what he said. After the program he rushed up and said, ‘I didn’t mean any harm,’ and I said, ‘Me neither. I just told them what you said,'” said Hardy.

After 50 years at MetLife Hardy retired and his name has become synonymous with leadership. He’s a business consultant, he’s a mentor to young entrepreneurs. His goal is to teach them to keep their eyes on the prize no matter the challenge.

Hardy was recently honored for his service to MetLife and the community by the Tuskegee Chamber of Commerce.

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