Best friends and soccer teammates Asher Raphael and Corey Schiller were fresh out of American University and considering graduate school when they made a pit stop in home remodeling sales. Today, the co-CEOs of Chester-based Power Home Remodeling operate a business with a few thousand employees in more than a dozen offices across the country. Their pit stop has lasted almost 17 years. Chosen as top leaders in the large-company category based on employee responses to the 2020 Inquirer Top Workplaces survey, Raphael and Schiller discuss how they aim for work-life integration over work-life balance.

What were your first jobs at Power?

Raphael: We both started off in entry-level sales positions. Over the years, we’ve slowly taken on major roles in every department and learned the business from the ground up.

Schiller: One of the beauties of being in a small business is that you get exposed to so many different things, so many different jobs. The company was small, but there was a great core leadership group that was really welcoming. They were really great mentors to us.

Did you always know you wanted to grow the business into what it is today?

Raphael: When Corey and I started, we were ... really young, fresh out of college. We had been working on growing the business, professionalizing the business. In order for everyone to have opportunity for growth, the business itself had to grow.

Schiller: Back in 2009, we were talking about doing $1 billion in sales by 2020. We set our sights on something so astronomical, so big — but also something that’s so possible. It’s a signal to this organization about our capacity and our ambitions.

How has COVID-19 uniquely affected your company, and how have your employees responded?

Statement from Power Home Remodeling (edited for length): In order to keep our employees, our customers, and our communities safe when COVID-19 hit, we made the difficult decision to suspend most major business operations. When the stimulus package passed on March 27, we recognized that furlough would make a bigger financial difference in our employees’ lives than we could provide. To make this situation a little easier, we decided to cover the full cost of their health benefits and accept onto our plan all partners and/or family members who may have lost their own benefits.

Although we furloughed the majority of our staff for nearly three months, we still had around 300 people who were able to perform their jobs remotely. Our in-house special events and brand teams hit the gas. We created company-wide programming that focused on wellness, both mental and physical; learning and developing; and entertainment and fun. Navigating this challenging time together has made us more resilient and supportive of one another. Now more than ever, we’re willing to go to bat for the person beside us.

As an essential business, Power has been fortunate enough to bring back all of our furloughed employees, utilizing a phased approach. We diligently monitored the situation nationally and on the ground in each of our locations to determine which office would open and when. Since bringing everyone back in June, the results have been extremely positive. In returning to work, all of our employees underwent intensive retraining to sharpen their skills and teach them new policies and procedures that are required to operate safely during this unprecedented time.

Having grown together from college kids to 40-somethings, how has your approach to work-life balance changed?

Raphael: It’s hard to differentiate; Power is so integrated in all of our lives. Corey’s my best friend. I work with both of my siblings at Power. All of my best friends grew up with me in the business. The best representation of me is our business. It’s closest to the values that I have.

This might not be a popular answer, but our goal has never been to create work-life balance for ourselves or our employees. Our goal is to create high-functioning, happy, fulfilled people. I don’t think that people who are highly functioning and fulfilled are typically balanced. Instead of work-life balance, our focus is work-life integration.

How does work-life integration work?

Raphael: We try to create a culture where all of the things they’re passionate about in life can be found through the organization. If our employees are passionate about the community where they live, they have volunteer time off. If they’re passionate about wellness, if they’re passionate about leadership development — all of these things they can find inside the business. We want coworkers to become true friends.

How do you make work fun?

Schiller: We spend 2% of our revenue on events for our people. Cultural events create meaningful and deep bonds, so that the people you work with every day are people you care about on a personal level. We invite significant others to all of our corporate events. The idea is that people’s families, friends, and passions are all integrated into the business.

Your business relies on young talent. How do you connect with younger employees?

Schiller: Always surrounding yourself with young people keeps you young. It keeps you innovative. And, it keeps you relevant.

Raphael: [Our young employees] are who we spend our time with. You can never get too far removed. When you do that, and you listen, and you build a business off the wants and needs of your people and you put them first, it’s amazing: You end up right a whole lot of the time.