Two former Waunakee High School students are developing entrepreneurial skills in their summer internships and learning new life lessons along the way.

Luke Laufenberg, a freshman at UW-Eau Claire, is starting out as a branch manager with College Works Painting, and this week while on spring break, he’ll follow up with contacts he’s made to give free estimates on their painting jobs. He’ll then find students to fill a crew of painters.

College Works Painting does exterior and interior painting, along with decks and fencing.

“It’s a company that hires college interns and gives them the opportunity to run their own company,” Laufenberg said, adding that he will be in charge of marketing, sales and managing a crew. “It’s an opportunity for me to get a whole broad idea of how a business is run.”

Laufenberg learned about College Works Painting from former Warrior teammate Jack Kratcha, a sophomore at UW-Madison. Kratcha was College Works Painting’s area branch manager last year. Laufenberg painted for Kratcha then and contacted Kratcha for work again this year.

A finance investment major, Kratcha was successful in his first year.

“I set the record for the company and produced more than $200,000 in revenue,” he said. “It was actually a good experience. I managed up to eight employees at once. I learned skills I couldn’t learn in the classroom.”

Kratcha’s achievement led to a promotion, so when Laufenberg contacted him, Kratcha offered him the job of branch manager.

“My role is to help involve people,” Kratcha said, adding he has 15 people he helps strategize with and Laufenberg is one of them.

The two played football and baseball together in Waunakee and say their experience as high school athletes instilled a strong work ethic.

Laufenberg also wrestled.

“Each gave me a good idea of what a work ethic is like,” Laufenberg said, recalling grinding practices in all conditions for each.

Kratcha said the competition in sports helps him learn to strive for success.

Laufenberg is pursuing a business degree and is currently a supply chain management major, but he’s keeping his options open and may change it to project management. Judging from Kratcha’s experience with College Works Painting, whichever major he pursues, this summer as branch manager should serve Laufenberg well.

Kratcha said it gave him confidence, noting during his freshman year, he was “super shy in class,” but he speaks out much more now. He developed better communications skills from speaking to clients.

“My last year and this year, it’s like night and day in communication, and I think that goes with confidence, too,” he said.

To learn more about College Works Painting, visit the website www.collegeworks.com/location/wisconsin.

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