College Works Painting:Young entrepreneurs get a chance to tackle business early, AzBiz.com   3 comments

College Works Manager Chelsey L. Brei supervises as Robert A. McDaniel paints a door at a local residence. Stuart L. Mattingly photo

College Works Manager Chelsey L. Brei supervises as Robert A. McDaniel paints a door at a local residence. Stuart L. Mattingly photo

By Christy Krueger
Inside Tucson Business
Published on Friday, June 06, 2008

A national organization is training local college students to become entrepreneurs, giving them real-life work experience accompanied by the responsibilities that go with it.

College Works Painting, founded in 1993, is one of the largest exterior residential painting contractors in the country, with branches in 19 states. Through paid internships, students receive hands-on leadership and management training and learn skills that will help them hit the ground running upon graduation.

ohn Komadina, a University of Arizona student who began with College Works in February, said, “To me it’s to further develop kids just starting to get a feel for what’s in store for them. Life starts in three years. It’s hard to believe I’ll be out of school looking for a job.”

Komadina took an interest in science while attending Salpointe Catholic High School and was offered a full scholarship to UA. Last month he completed the second semester of his freshman year with a 3.92 GPA and has ambitions to become a physician.

What does painting have to do with medicine? For starters, Komadina plans to someday run his own practice, which he admitted requires some business knowledge. And he feels anyone can benefit from a College Works internship, no matter what field of interest he or she is pursuing. “It’s important for everyone to have experience running a business, dealing with people you don’t necessarily agree with and to manage people.”

College Works Painting interns, known as branch operators, canvas neighborhoods, give sales presentations and offer bids to potential clients between February and May after an intensive training session. In preparation for the start of production, which takes place during summer months, each intern begins his employee search process in the spring. He conducts interviews, hires, and sometimes fires painters. “We had to fire two people on the first day,” Komadina noted.

Three district managers oversee approximately 15 College Works branch operators in Tucson. Managers are students who spent one or two years in the internship program before moving up through the selective process to become supervisors.

This year’s production for Tucson’s College Works painters began on May 26, after school was out for the summer. Komadina, like the other branch operators, will spend the next two months overseeing his jobs and managing a crew of two. He also plans to be out doing more selling.

“It’ll be easier during the summer,” Komadina suggested. During the spring semester, “It was hard to keep a balance between school and the internship. Weekdays I spent most of my time studying and making calls to possible clients; on weekends is when the business was really run.”

Those few busy months were so difficult, Komadina said, not everyone made it through the semester. “A lot of interns haven’t stuck with it; it’s a lot of work during spring. They ask for at least a 20-hour commitment each week. I’m very excited to get started with production.”

Several lessons are there for the taking by participants in the College Works program. Komadina believes the experience has taught him about managing and organizing his time, something he can take with him wherever he goes. At first he was reluctant, he said, when he was told to get a planner. He never used one before and didn’t adhere to that suggestion until he heard it several times. Then he started to use one, “And I’ve been doing it ever since.”

He also feels he’s gained people skills from the internship. “It’s given me a better idea of gauging people and different personalities, learning better communication skills with people I work with and learning compromise. Originally, a lot of times I was out of my comfort zone.”

David Streitfeld, the College Works district manager who recruited and hired Komadina, agreed the internship is difficult and time consuming. “John is an incredibly hard worker,” Streitfeld stressed. “He really balances a lot. One thing that appealed when I hired him is his drive and will to succeed. He was pledging a fraternity, doing the program, and was a full-time student with hard classes. He was able to balance everything.”

Tucson College Works interns are still scheduling painting work for the summer, and homeowners can receive a bid by calling John Komadina at 490-0498 or the College Works Painting home office in Irvine, Calif. at 888-450-9675.

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3 responses to “College Works Painting:Young entrepreneurs get a chance to tackle business early, AzBiz.com

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  1. I also have seen the work that College Works Painting students produce. I have been able to interview some of the homeowners and they were all very satisfied.

  2. The difference between an entrepreneur and caretaker manager? Robert L. Schwartz says it best: “The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and an actualizer. He can visualize something, and when visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen.”

  3. “College Works focuses on being the greatest learning experience any of our
    staff will ever experience in their professional lives. This is a tall
    order and is the reason for our continued success. In an economic climate
    that fosters fear and pessimistic, College Works has grown in geographic
    scope, revenue, and customer satisfaction. We focus on learning: We
    analyze our successes to ensure continued success. We analize our strengths
    and weaknesses looking for opportunities. We make mistakes, but we actively
    learn from them. This focus ensures that our staff participates in the
    success of College Works Painting and helps us retain the best of the best!
    In 2009 we plan to continue to grow and to continue to be the leader in our
    industry for customer and employee satisfaction.”
    -Matt Stewart

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