Forcht Group of Kentucky Founder, Chairman and CEO Terry E. Forcht always tries to be in bed by 7:00 p.m.
He gets up at 3:30 a.m. daily, except on Sundays, when he doesn’t wake up until 5:00 a.m.
He works seven days a week.
At 81-years-old, he’s not even considering retirement.
And he doesn’t think you should either.
His prodigious work ethic and resulting life success were front and center during the City of Corbin’s Business Appreciation Luncheon. He was the keynote speaker at the event, which was held Oct. 16 at The Corbin Center, and was honored by the city as Corbin’s Business Professional of the Year.
“Never retire. Just don’t even think about it,” he told the crowd attending the luncheon.
“You can challenge your preacher, say; ‘I’ll give you $100 if you can show me anyplace in The Bible that says thou shalt retire.’ It’s not there. Just keep going,” he added. “Get up out of that bed and go out and walk your dog or whatever you do early in the morning. This is the best thing you can do for your health. Keep moving. Keep occupied. Keep energized.”
Over 200 people attended the luncheon. It is held annually by the city as a way to show appreciation to local businesses.
The award is the latest in a long line of recognitions and honors Forcht has received in recent years. In 2012, he was inducted into the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. He’s been named “Leader of the Year” by Leadership-Tri County — a non-profit organization focused on fostering leadership in southeastern Kentucky. He was also the second ever recipient of the Daniel Boone Visionary Award by the Mountain Laurel District of the Bluegrass Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Forcht, originally a native of Louisville, is a graduate of Shawnee High School. He earned his Bachelor degree and law degree from the University of Louisville. He also holds an MBA from the University of Miami in Florida.
Forcht and his family moved to Williamsburg in 1964 after he graduated from UofL. He began teaching classes at Cumberland College and later opened his own law practice.
During his speech, Forcht dropped bits of wisdom and rules to live by he believes helped him in his own life. Among those was to get married young and have children young. He was nine days over 21-years-old when he married his wife, Marion. She was a few months younger. The couple are still together.
“Marion said you better get out and do something because we had four children by the time I was 26-years-old,” Forcht said.
Forcht made connections with Williamsburg businessman Joe Patrick, and the two eventually became partners. Patrick desired Forcht’s skill at navigating contract and tax law.
“I was lucky because I knew something about taxes and contracts and legal activity, and Joe … Joe just knew everything about coal and timber, but one thing he hated was paying taxes and paying lawyers,” Forcht said.
Forcht said the partnership was successful. In perhaps a bit of influential foreshadowing to his own business style, he remembered how Patrick would often call him very early in the morning to go to Bell County or Harlan or Wayne County to work on mineral rights acquisition.
“That was a good start for me,” Forcht said. “If you have a partnership, people can contribute different sides of the coin and it makes it easier to get started in business, and a lot safer.”
In 1972, he started what is now Forcht Group of Kentucky when he partnered with Dr. Harold Barton in obtaining a Certificate of Need from the state and opened Hillcrest Nursing Home in north Corbin.
In 1985, Forcht founded Tri-County National Bank, now known as Forcht Bank. Forcht Bank currently has 30 banking centers in 12 Kentucky counties with nearly $1 billion in assets.
Forcht Group’s businesses are now comprised of nursing homes, banks, pharmacy, broadcasting, publishing, financial services, technology services, construction, retail, real estate and other ventures. The company employs over 2,100 people.
Forcht said he despises debt, and tries to pay it down as quickly as possible, and advised anyone else to do so as well.
“Every debt you have you ought to make payments on it every month,” he said. “Do not let your debt catch up with you.”
He also said if you want to be wealthy, it’s important to keep your eye on that goal and try to stay away from distractions. Forcht said he used to take a great interest in sports, but gave it up to focus more on his own businesses.
“Work for your money,” he said. “A lot of you like sports, and I do too. But I gave it up a long time ago. Coach Cal has never come up in the bleachers giving out $20 bills or $100 bills.”
An active church life is also essential, he said. If you can’t afford to tithe financially, then volunteer to do things for the church to make up for it.
As a proud, life-long Republican, Forcht said he understands that some people may get upset with his opinions or affiliations. But he doesn’t worry.
“I don’t care if some of you are Democrats and some of you close your bank accounts with us, or you do other things … I’m not going to get it all anyway,” he said.
Corbin Mayor Suzie Razmus praised Forcht and what he’s meant to the community, noting his generous donations of money and land to projects that have benefited the area, job creation, support of education (particularly the University of the Cumberlands) and construction projects.
“No one has done as much for this community, from a business perspective, than [Terry Forcht]. The sheer number of jobs he has created, the investment and repurposing of old buildings in our town, as well as building new and beautiful facilities … it is truly unmatched.”
Forcht was presented the award by Razmus and Corbin City Manager Marlon Sams.