Monona Grove High School graduate Bronz Geissler admits he was fearful the day he decided to become his own entrepreneur in the summer months when he wasn’t attending classes at UW-Madison.

“I had quite a bit of pushback from my parents. They were worried I would be unsuccessful or get gypped by the company,” said Geissler, who wanted to sign up for the College Works Painting program.

But Geissler’s hard work paid off, and now he is ready to begin his second year of painting people’s houses under the program. In 2019, he serviced 34 clients and earned $150,000 in billings. This translated into a profit of $38,000 for Geissler and the others who worked on his crew.

College Works is an organization that offers college students the opportunity to be their own bosses while developing skills in leadership, customer service and marketing. It began in 1993, and last year, about 2,000 Wisconsin college students participated as interns, managers and branch managers. Students make their own estimates on how much a painting job will cost when they meet with potential clients. The paints used are Environmental Protection Agency-approved lead-free products. According to the group’s website, College Works has received a 97 percent approval rating from customers.

New interns are shown the ropes by former interns who now work as managers and oversee the work done by the student painters.

“College Works is an awesome network of alumni who have done the work before, and you have people in the program teaching you the right way to do business,” Geissler said. “By working hard enough, I knew I could be successful, and that’s what kept me motivated.”

Geissler adds that College Works also helped him improve his time management skills and learn to be better organized. He is currently a biomedical engineering major at UW-Madison.

Before entering college, Geissler was surrounded by many positive influences that stoked his desire to be a success. He played on the Monona Grove football team that advanced to the WIAA Division 2 state championship in 2016. He was also on the boys high school swimming team that won the state title four years in a row. Geissler said those experiences with talented, hard-working individuals rubbed off on him and gave him the initiative to sign up with College Works.

“I really want to be around people who push me and make me want to be the best I can be,” Geissler said. “A lot of people I’ve looked up to have been entrepreneurs. They set out to do their own thing and used motivation to build something that wasn’t there before.”

Geissler said he isn’t sure if the COVID-19 virus has had a negative effect on his painting business this year, and he is on board with following the precautions established through the pandemic to prevent the spread of the disease.

“Painters practice safe distancing to prevent clients from getting sick,” Geissler said. “We are still in the infancy of understanding the economic impact of this virus. I’ll be interested to see what impact this has in the coming years.”

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