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Power CEOs Got Their Start at AU

Former soccer teammates and best friends Corey Schiller and Asher Raphael now run one of the best companies to work for in the US.

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“From the first conversation I had with Asher, we were inseparable,” Corey Schiller, CAS/BA ’03, says of his best friend and co-CEO at Power Home Remodeling, Asher Raphael, SPA/BA ’02. “The start of our friendship is really the start of our partnership and the start of our work—and all of it actually started at AU, where we both played soccer.”

Corey, a Florida native, took a leap of faith in choosing to attend college in DC, a city he had never visited. His teammates, however, quickly made Tenleytown feel like home. But Asher in particular, the New York transplant one year Corey’s senior, made the transition seamless. The spark that started the friendship has grown to a roaring torch, one the duo has carried through the decades.

Today, these forever teammates head up one of the top-rated companies to work for in the nation, according to FORTUNE and Glassdoor. The company, with roots in Philadelphia, works in 26 different states out of nearly 20 office sites. Asher and Corey preside over 3,500+ employees serving Power’s far-reaching network.

Finding themselves—and each other—at AU

Asher chose AU largely because of an interaction with then-soccer coach Bob Jenkins, someone he remembers as a “great man.” He also loved the campus from the time he first visited, a year before enrolling. “I didn’t think I would be able to go to school in a city and still feel like I was on a real college campus like in the movies,” he says. But he did.

Corey appreciated the size of the school, its gorgeous location, and having access to the city. “It didn’t feel like some enormous place where you could get lost,” he recalls.

Their experiences—from the soccer pitch to the classroom and beyond—provided just what each was looking for. Asher studied political science and found resources and accommodations for his learning style. “I’m dyslexic,” he says, “and American has a nationally recognized learning center...Not only did I know that I needed [a resource like] that in order to get through school, but I also knew that I needed to learn more about how I learned, and AU provided that.”

“I feel like we got out of it everything that AU has to offer,” Corey says. “The education was outstanding.” Corey studied history and said going to AU felt like getting to study abroad twice, adding that he “fell in love” with the historical aspects of the city. “We got to really grow up in an amazing place … that I feel made us more aware of so many different things as citizens and in a good, sort of metropolitan, urban way. Those four years changed everything we became.”

The road to becoming co-CEOs

Asher and Corey found that the things they learned being a part of AU’s soccer team translated to working together in their professional lives. A soccer team, they say, is a great metaphor for their lives. “Any one person changes the fabric of what’s going on with the team,” says Corey. “We didn’t understand how to define it [at the time], but a lot of the themes of how we function as people and how you learn to support one another and care about one another came out of working together on a soccer team.”

According to Asher, their soccer experiences illuminated how to make the most of every “player” on the team at Power. The pair claims they were not “top recruits,” adding that the experience benefited them off the field. Being coached as a top player is one thing, he says, but “being coached when I was not even close to the best player” was great for business development skills. He says a great focus at Power is on maximizing every employee to ensure they feel equally included and important.

Graduation: What Came Next

Looking back to graduation, Corey says “We just needed to figure out as young kids what we wanted to do—and we knew we wanted to stay together.” An opportunity presented itself at Power, “a small home improvement company” at the time, through Asher’s brother, who worked there.

“That was kind of the only option that we had…to get a job where we could earn a little bit of money and work together…And, as long as that was the case, we didn’t care what it was going to be.” The two joined up.

Working up to the top

Next steps fell into place as the years passed by. “We were lucky enough to start working at a small company, and with a small company, two people who care about the same things, we could help to reform the environment,” Corey says. “We were able to build slowly—kind of person by person—over the years.” The duo describes this as the first of three phases on their journey with Power.

“The next phase was more about becoming a leadership presence at the company level and expanding the company,” says Corey. Growth and expansion came quickly. “[Everything] just transformed in a very short amount of time. The company was doubling in size [about] every two-and-a-half years from 2009 to 2016.”

As co-CEOS, Asher and Corey focus on the company culture by prioritizing hiring great people. Corey describes Power as “a large, national, coast-to-coast-type organization,” but adds “we didn’t cobble together or acquire a bunch of other organizations. This is kind of from scratch… And we’ve had a front row seat to guiding it, to fostering it, to imagining it.”

Corey and Asher are focused on growing and stewarding their business with principle—and the bottom line, for them, is a people-first mentality. “We just surround ourselves with such great people, and a commitment to that—first and foremost—has been the answer to most of the success that we’ve had,” says Asher.

They first understood the importance of this at AU. Soccer teammates had a huge impact on their college experience—and later their collective approach to work. “My personal experiences at AU as a student and as an athlete had an impact on how we approach diversity in our workforce,” says Asher. “Soccer is the world’s game…the types of people that you grow up playing with look different, they speak different languages, their parents are from different places.”

The company, then, is focused not just on growth and excellence in execution of its work but also in the development of its people. Diversity, these CEOs say, lends itself to better business. “Our focus on becoming more diverse is not about a PR thing or box-checking…We make better decisions when we have more perspectives, and the business has benefited greatly from it,” says Asher.

They also have come to understand and appreciate the difference between diversity and inclusion. “Becoming diverse as an organization was relatively easy,” says Asher. “Becoming inclusive is much harder. To become inclusive, you have to really be willing to listen to and … encourage people to speak truth to power … and learn about what you’re doing well, and what you’re not doing well…and then you have to do the hard work to evolve culturally.”

To that end, Power hosts an annual summit to reflect on the past year’s progress in DEI and set their sights on the 365 days ahead. “It is so rewarding now to see how far we’ve come and how the leadership of the business now really looks like the country we’re serving,” says Asher. “The idea of the initiative itself is for it to no longer be needed.”

There are plenty of obvious parallels in Corey and Asher’s business model and their time as students, and AU was the best genesis of their professional success story. “We both genuinely attribute all our success to the starting point, which was AU,” says Asher—and Corey agrees. “We had the best college experience that there is...AU checked every single box, and it was the best decision that I’ve ever made.”