Joe Carter

Cornerstone Insurance Group

City: Little Rock
Category: Business Executive of the Year
Year: 2008

In 1994, Joe Carter was thinking about taking a job with Xerox when he decided to enter the employee benefits field.

After working in that industry for more than 10 years, Carter decided he could do it better and in 2005 opened Cornerstone Insurance Group Inc. of Little Rock.

The insurance agency has seen rapid growth since then.

It had less than $20,000 in revenue in 2005. Then revenue exploded to $400,000 in 2006. In 2007, it jumped to $1.1 million, and the next year, revenue was $1.2 million.

While spending about 20 percent of its time on health insurance, the company also handles employee benefits and acts as a consulting firm.
"We can help employers keep costs affordable for their folks," Carter said. "And if somebody gets sick and say they actually have to enter into the health care system, then there are things that we can do to help them focus on getting better rather than fighting insurance."

If someone gets cancer, a number of health-related expenses and claims will follow.

"It can be really confusing for somebody who does not have an advocate," said Carter, who in 2006 was on Arkansas Business' list of 40 Under 40.
He also said the company, which has seven employees, would explain benefits to its clients and help make sure the claims are processed correctly.

"That's the real rewarding part," Carter said.

Carter said his management style is to surround himself with good people who have the kind of skills that can't be taught, such as "integrity, drive and compassion and folks that sort of have a sense of fairness about them."
He also said that he listens to the advice he receives from his employees, peers and other advisers.

"And [I] try not to be too opinionated," Carter said.

He also said he never loses sight of the chance to help improve someone's life.

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