“I am only as good as the people I surround myself with. I am lucky to work with talented, driven people who make this company a success. I am not better than anyone I work with. I just have a different job.”
– Andrew Corbin
When you picture the president and CEO of the largest health insurer in the state of Kansas, you probably think of a powerful man who drives an expensive car. It might surprise you to learn that Andy Corbin’s vehicle of choice is his 50/65 John Deere tractor. Even though he holds the top position at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Andy is more likely to be found hanging out at the local farm implement store.
“I am a rancher at heart,” Andy said. “My wife is never surprised when I come home with another tractor.
Andy admits he has his hands full, in addition to his responsibilities at BCBSKS, he also owns more than 1,100 acres across four counties in Kansas and 100 head of cattle. But he has his reasons.
“It keeps me sane,” Andy said. Andy was born in Alva, Oklahoma, and raised in Liberal, Kansas, so he comes by his mid-western values naturally.
After graduating from Wichita State University with an education degree, his plan was to find a teaching position in Kansas City. Because he was slated for the draft at the time, no one would offer him a contract. He ended up accepting a position at a small high school for a whopping $6,200.
Sure enough, he was drafted. When he went to the induction, everything went smoothly until the end of his physical. He was wearing contacts at the time— apparently that was not allowed. The sergeant screamed at him to come back in two weeks, without his contacts in, so he could take the physical again.
Nixon stopped the draft on the Sunday before he was supposed to report.
After teaching school for two years, Andy went to work for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City in sales, eventually working his way up to a management position. Looking to advance his career, he moved to another Blue plan in Texas and then took a marketing director position with Humana in San Antonio. He quickly learned that not all companies care about their customers the same way. So when the opportunity came to return to Blue Cross and Blue Shield, he jumped at it.
“In a thousand years, when I was going to school, I never even once thought of coming to Topeka, Kansas,” Andy said. “But the Topeka community is welcoming and engaging. The people I live and work around are incredible. Why else do you think I have stayed for 29 years?”
Andy navigated BCBSKS through some pretty stormy waters. His very first task in his new position in Topeka was to let 350 people go because the company had just lost key Medicare contracts. During that time, he had to not only figure out a way to help the company grow, but to also reassure his remaining employees that they would be taken care of.
He rose through the ranks, becoming vice president of sales and provider of professional relations, president of BCBS’ subsidiary Advance Insurance Co. and president of Premier Health Inc., another BCBS subsidiary. He was named president and CEO in 2007. Under his guidance and leadership, the company thrived and grew at a time when other insurers found themselves struggling. Throughout all of his success, he has remained true to his roots.
“If you want to ground yourself, go hang out around the feed store, the implement store. There you will find the salt of the earth,” Andy said. “They don’t care about what you do or the position you hold. They care about the character of the man. They care if I do what I say I am going to do.”
That is what Andy views as key to his success—doing what he says he is going to do. That philosophy still holds true today.
“I could have retired a long time ago,” Andy said. “But I promised I would stay and help the company through health care reform. That has been going on since 2010, and I expect to be around a few more years to finish what I promised.”
Working in the industry for 40 years and achieving innumerable success has Andy thinking about the legacy he will leave behind.
“Yes, we have strong reserves and world-class customer service,” Andy said. “But I am the most proud of knowing that I will leave this company in good hands because of the valuable people we have in place who will run the company after I am gone. That is my true legacy.”
“Andy has an internal throttle permanently set on High Speed. He is a tireless worker, considers the needs of others and never loses sight of the goal.”
– Harold Stones Sen. Pat Roberts’ Office
“Andy has the incredible talent of coming across as tough as nails while having a heart as big as the outdoors. He truly cares about others— associates, employees, and the community. Plus he has a fabulous sense of humor. I think that is a quality that is essential for all leaders. The moment we forget to take time for humor, we lose the ability to be truly effective.”
– Miriam Krehbiel United Way Topeka