One of the area’s most successful entrepreneurs laid out his personal “pathway to wealth” last Thursday during the keynote address of the first annual Southeast Kentucky Business Development Conference, held at the Corbin Center for Technology and Community Activities.
Terry Forcht, founder and CEO of The Forcht Group of Kentucky told the luncheon crowd of about 100 people that wealth can be attained by anyone with patience and a good work ethic.
“It’s an easy path, the only thing is you have to work hard to get it,” Forcht said. “You may not be the smartest thing going, but if you are working these hours and really going at it, you are going to have a step up on your competition out there.”
Forcht broke his suggestions for attaining wealth into phases. In phase one, he suggested a college education with little or no student loans.
“If you are working your way along, you will learn more by working at McDonalds than you might by staying around bars and living on student loans.”
He admonished students to steer clear of credit cards as well, and suggested a commitment to community service and purchasing a home as soon as possible.
Phase two consisted of investment suggestions and ways to start saving early on: purchasing rental property, putting “sweat equity” into any real estate and buying stocks and bonds only as part of a 401k plan or IRA.
“I never have bought much over the years in stock and right now I’m glad I haven’t,” he told the crowd. “They are on their way down and I think they have a way to go.”
Subsequent phases of Forcht’s plan included suggestions that aspiring entrepreneurs find skillful partners to go into business with, buy them out when possible, deal honestly with people and never plan to retire.
“If you enjoy what you are doing, you can’t do it anyway,” Forcht said. “Nowhere in the Bible does it say that thou shalt retire. It’s just something that has jumped up in the last 30 to 40 years … keep going in life.”
A typical day at the office starts at 5:30 a.m. Forcht said. He leaves around 6:00 p.m or later. He said people on the “pathway to wealth” should work at least 12 hours a day, and half a day on Saturdays.
Forcht said he puts significant value on tithing 10 percent to church, then saving another 10 percent of income, with a third 10 percent going toward community activism.
His personal approach to business, he said, has been to build things from the bottom up, and never sell or take them public.
“Every once in a while we have to cull one out of the herd, but basically we have the same businesses that we’ve always had. We build them, hold them and don’t’ plan on selling them.”
In the end, Forcht said it would take abundant patience to get rich, dubbing his plan a 40-year endeavor.
The Forcht Group of Kentucky is comprised of 94 separate companies with over 2,100 employees. The conglomerate includes banks, small lenders, nursing homes, a pharmaceutical distribution company, data processing, Internet web design, retail outlets, radio stations, newspapers and more. Forcht Bank of Kentucky, with locations all across the state, is now the third largest privately held bank in the state with over $1 billion in assets.
The conference, sponsored by Eastern Kentucky University’s Small Business Development Center, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Corbin Chamber of Commerce, was held primarily to benefit small businesses or individuals considering starting their own business. Classes during the conference focused on web design, customer service, alternative financing, and productivity with technology, effective tax planning and marketing strategies for small business.
Corbin Economic Development Director Bruce Carpenter said the first annual event was a well-attended success and envisions future conferences in coming years.
See more photos from the Southeast Kentucky Regional Business Conference in our photo galleries section.