From Deadbeat Student to Meeting with Presidents
Corey’s story is the kind we all love. He admits to being a “lazy, deadbeat student” with bad grades, no extracurricular activities, and even had to take two night classes to graduate. He graduated from Hunter High School in 1998. He was always a hard worker and worked pulling weeds and mowing lawns in his dad’s landscaping business starting at age 9, but school was not his focus back then. So what changed? How did a deadbeat student end up as a Vice-President of the Business Roundtable, meeting with America’s titans of industry, Presidents, Congressional Leaders, Prime Ministers, and more cabinet secretaries than one could count? And why, after that experience, would he want to run for Utah State Senate?
“I had a great childhood. I loved the outdoors.” Corey went on Scout campouts almost every month and became an Eagle Scout. He loved family outings boating and playing in the sand at Bear Lake and spent long summer days playing basketball and jumping on the trampoline with friends. On Independence Day his extended family would get together for a BBQ, play basketball for hours, and watch the fireworks. Corey’s family was very patriotic and he was taught that God ordained this country as land to preserve liberty. “We had so many kids in the neighborhood to pal around with – those memories of so many kids around is something we wanted for our children. Something we found in Lehi and want to preserve.”
Hard Work, Education, and Costco
Corey worked more jobs than will fit on a four-page resume. He did the typical McDonalds’s stint, but loved being outside and mostly worked outdoors; clearing rights-of-ways and retention ponds in West Valley City, cleaning sidewalks and streets, and for three years he worked as a parking attendant at the ‘E’ Center (now Maverik Center). He credits his church service in Texas as a young man with teaching him how to study and work hard learning. He had to learn Vietnamese for his service, which was a big challenge for someone who hadn’t developed good study skills. He always worked hard, but working hard at studying had not been a priority until then. It changed his life.
He then started taking a few night classes at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) while working full-time as a facilities maintenance worker for the Church Office Building, eventually transferring to UVU (UVSC then) and finally transferred to BYU one year later. He paid his own way through college by working in Orem City Parks, at the McKay Events Center (now UCCU center), and as a teaching assistant. He managed to graduate without any debt between work and scholarships he earned along the way but money for dates was basically non-existent. Everything needed to be free or very near free. He even sold plasma to earn enough money to pay rent several times, and he NEVER ate out. He didn’t get to enjoy the creamery until many years later.
He got married at 23 to Eileen, who worked at a residential home for seniors. “Costco pizza was a big part of our dating and early life together. One anniversary we went all out and bought a rotisserie chicken and some hummus from Costco – to us that was a King’s meal!”
They moved to DC so Corey could intern for then Utah Congressman Chris Cannon and then got a job working as a Legislative Aide to Senator Jon Kyl from Arizona. To say the salary was not a living wage in DC is a huge understatement. They lived a very frugal life, always cooking meals and brown-bagging lunch. He started law school at night at Georgetown Law School; their first baby came during his second year of law school; the second came during his 3rd year of law school. After graduating he worked at a law firm but hated billing hours and missed the opportunity to make a difference on Capitol Hill.
Missed Capitol Hill???
“There are a lot of things to dislike about Washington politics, but there are also good people trying to do good things. I missed the discussions, creativity, and negotiations, trying to solve problems from a conservative foundation and make positive things happen.” Corey took a job with Senator Bob Bennett, who immediately lost his campaign to Mike Lee; which meant Corey also was out of a job. Here he was, a Georgetown graduate, with no job, and a family to support (two kids at this point). “It was a terrifying feeling.” Two months later he found a new job in the Senate. Life was still very frugal, but eventually people recognized what he had to offer and he was increasingly sought out for jobs with more responsibility, where he could make a meaningful difference, and provide financial stability for his family. “It was exciting to be part of the Whip team working to repeal and replace Obamacare.” Eileen decided to go back to school to become a nurse so that meant spending a lot more time managing kids, now four of them, and things at home.
A Long Way from High School, Kids, and Making Lehi Home
While working at the Capitol he had access to the Library of Congress, which has basically every book in English. His main hobby during those years was reading and spending time with the kids. “I suppose all enjoying a hobby reading is ironic considering my high school years.” There was a lot of church service, coaching sports; basketball, baseball, flag football, and a lot of time at the community swimming pool. “I never could get the kids to all play the same sport! LOL”
Today, Corey still loves Costco pizza, although the years of that being the only dinner out are over.
“I really have the best of all worlds now. I live in Lehi, where we have found the environment we wanted for our family. My work at the Business Roundtable allows me to effect positive change working with America’s top companies and top political leaders, advocating for America’s free enterprise system and policies that promote economic growth, particularly in the areas of health care, taxation, and business regulation.” In addition, Corey and Eileen also run a small business in American Fork that provides behavioral therapy for children on the autism spectrum. The company, called Success on the Spectrum, aims to teach functional skills that help children with autism become fulfilled adults in mainstream society. “We see this opportunity as a way to give back to the community and help families who struggle with special needs children.”
With So Much Experience, Why Utah State Senate?
Throughout my career, I’ve worked with many of America’s leading companies, and governments at every level, from Presidents and Cabinet members to state agencies, state governments, and local entities. I’m all about getting things done, things that make a meaningful difference, not just making people feel like we’re making a difference. The shackles of red tape and bureaucracy are not only frustrating, it stifles innovation, hinders both individuals and businesses, and quite frankly, lacks any common sense. I want to focus my experience and passion where one person can make a difference for the families and communities that are the bedrock of this great state and why I love Utah.