Eli Taul, 19, Peter Buchanan, 18, and Derek Madison, 21, are the managers of Student Painters, a business serving Alton, Godfrey, Rosewood Heights and Wood River.
ALTON — In most college experiences, students learn in the classroom and enter the business world. Three SIUE business students are getting the chance this year to leave the classroom and run their own businesses.
Student Painters, a company created by the organization Young Entrepreneurs Across America, gives college students the chance through an internship to operate an outdoor painting business in their own communities.
The Riverbend area has three interns running sectors of Student Painters. Peter Buchanan, 18, represents the Alton area; Eli Taul, 19, represents Godfrey; and Derek Madison, 21, represents Wood River and Rosewood Heights.
Buchanan, Madison and Taul found out about Student Painters through a man coming into their classes seeking business interns. The three had follow-up interviews after applying and soon were asked to run their own business.
“Everything seemed too good to be true,” Madison said. “They’re a corporation that tries to give the best business experience to students.”
An important part of Student Painters’ process is the bidding process — the three said this sets them apart from many other exterior painting projects.
“Most people give you an estimate on the back of a business card — we give a detailed estimate sheet to each client,” Madison said.
Each young man will be hiring and training a full staff for the summer’s work.
“It’s quality painting,” Taul said. “We make sure we do a good job.”
The young men have spent most of their school years (for Taul and Buchanan, their freshman years of college) learning how to run and manage a business, beginning with a training weekend.
“They taught us how to market, interview, how to fully run the business, make sales calls, sell a job,” Madison said.
All three young men said they enjoyed the learning process and hands-on, professional atmosphere.
“They really made it fun,” Taul said.
When they got back, the three begun two very intense processes: hiring a full staff and marketing their business. They immediately got to work finding employees for the summer, handing out fliers, making door-to-door sales calls and more.
In mid-May, Student Painters will be in production. Buchanan, Madison and Taul will be managing their staffs, visiting job sites and continuing marketing. Rather than learning the business experience from a student’s perspective, they will be experiencing it hands-on.
“It’s way better than a classroom,” Taul says.
Although the young men all say they are fully enjoying their experiences with Student Painters, they also are learning the responsibility of managing a business.
“It’s a lot of work — not just a walk in the park,” Buchanan says.
All three are using this experience to learn the skills they will need for their careers, whether that be marketing, managing or running a business.
“We’re college kids trying to better our futures — the more successful our business is, the more successful we’ll be in the future,” Buchanan said.
For bids, pricing, and to hire Student Painters, contact the following:
Alton: Peter Buchanan, (618) 304-9405
Godfrey: Eli Taul, (618) 741-6040
Wood River/Rosewood Heights: Derek Madison, (618) 363-8159