Born in Morgantown, Kentucky, and raised in Indianapolis, IN, Cardwell Do it Best Home Center owner Jeff Cardwell has never done anything without distinction and purpose, Cardwell started his professional career in 1976 in the building and lumber industry until he later earned his real estate and brokerage licenses. He excelled in his real estate journey by being accredited in 1996 as a Certified Residential Specialist, which is only awarded to 4% of realtors worldwide.
But that wasn't enough for Jeff Cardwell as he later became president and CEO of Cardwell Do it Best Home Center, while also serving as the Chairman of The Fuller Center for Housing, Chairman of Madison Capital, LLC, President of Huddleston Professional Centre, CEO of Henry Lynn, LLC, and Senior Vice President of Sextons Creek Government Affairs.
In 1980, Jeff Cardwell launched his land development and construction career, and was named "Builder of the Month" by Builder/Architect Magazine in 1994, while later that year being named "Builder of the Year" by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis. In that same year, Jeff launched his radio career with the People Helping People Network which ran for 20 years. In 1998, Cardwell built the first prototype of a Do it Best Hardware store, a new concept that took the hardware store industry by storm. Cardwell established a successful business in Indianapolis, but felt he needed to focus more on his significance.
That's when he considered the idea of doing a mission trip after chaperoning his daughter's youth group in June of 2000. Before this trip, Jeff Cardwell worked very closely with Millard Fuller of Fuller Center for Housing and Habitat for Humanity, where in 1994, they did a "blitz build" of 10 houses in a week. In the early 2000s, Jeff had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador providing building and ministry services, which later resulted in him taking trips to build houses in El Salvador and traveling internationally to provide similar services. In January of 2001, an earthquake devastated El Salvador, where in less than 90 days, Cardwell organized a group of volunteers who provided emergency relief supplies to the victims. When asked why Cardwell wasn't fully satisfied with a successful hardware store, he said:
“It’s the difference between success and significance, I’ve been very blessed to have success in business. We all know a bunch of successful people who are miserable, what’s missing in their life is they don’t have purpose. The best medicine for joy, peace, and happiness in life is finding the best balance of success and significance. Having success in business fuels my passion for having a significant impact on the lives of others.”
He now serves as chairman of the People Helping People Network. Millard Fuller of Fuller Center for Housing was a big inspiration for Cardwell, and he attended Fuller's last mission trip in 2008 bringing the People Helping People team with him. Millard Fuller sadly passed away in February of 2009, but left a lasting impact not only on Jeff Cardwell, but on the world around him.
The Hope Equation is something that the People Helping People Network was founded on, and what that means is that the organization doesn't try to be all things to all people. They've established a network and umbrella of expert organizations that specialize in the industries that are needed. Jeff Cardwell calls the network a "miracle" and can't believe to have established a network of the incredible talent and resources they've created. When it comes to specialties, the People Helping People Network goes to The Fuller Center for housing services, Convoy of Hope (in addition to several different organizations) for food distribution, Timmy Global Health for their health services, and have established a culinary school and vocational education program that provides education to the people. The great aspect of this vocational training program, is many individuals who learned the skills in the program, end up being part of the construction teams for the housing program.
Hope is something that's huge to Cardwell, when asked why that was, he said: “Hope changes everything, it’s the one thing that none of us can live without. You can live 40 days with no food, you can go for 3 or 4 days with no water, but you can live for a few seconds with no hope…Moms and dads all around the world want the same thing for their kids, a better life, and they have the hope that they can provide a better life for their kids and it always begins with the firm foundation of a home and hope."
Jeff Cardwell was recognized in 2022 by ECI for their Everyday Hero Awards for his work with the People Helping People Network.
Since inception, the People Helping People Network has built more than 1000+ homes, provided over millions of meals, freshwater wells, millions of pounds of relief supplies, collegiate scholarships, and enabled the creation many small businesses. The network continues to expand their efforts and provides help where it's needed across the world.