Students hope to paint the town — literally

Chandler Bolt, left, a freshman business major at the College of Charleston, shows the flyers they have been giving out in neighborhoods advertising Student Painters. Dylan Reddy, a sophomore business major, right, holds one of the yard signs they've been putting out. Bolt is focusing on Summerville and North Charleston and Reddy on Mount Pleasant, West Ashley and James Island. They have a $100 bet riding on who does better.

It's not unusual for young people to paint houses in the summer for a little extra money, but two College of Charleston business majors are taking the idea to the next level.

Chandler Bolt, a freshman, and Dylan Reddy, a sophomore, are gearing up through a nationally accredited program called Student Painters. They've been putting out bright red yard signs, handing out "Hello Neighbor" fliers and interviewing other students to help them paint.

A thick manual guides their business plan. A mentor from the program is overseeing them. Local Sherwin-Williams representatives will train them to paint.

Bolt will focus on North Charleston and Summerville. Reddy will handle Mount Pleasant, West Ashley and James Island.

They plan to start painting houses May 7 and go through the middle of August.

Bolt and Reddy are enthusiastic about the opportunity. They have a friendly $100 bet over who will get the most business this summer.

But Bolt said he also will offer his service to Habitat for Humanity or another similar nonprofit.

"It's not just a business," he said. "It's also about giving back to the community."

Bolt has the most business experience. He started a successful lawn-care business back home in Walhalla, which is near Clemson. Before that, he made money selling snacks at school.

Reddy of West Columbia worked as a Food Lion cashier but said he learned a lot about business watching his dad rent houses.

Besides the college, Bolt also has been talking to students at Summerville and Ashley Ridge high schools.

They both plan to hire their crews by March 1, then accompany them to a training session in Columbia, where they will paint a house under the supervision of experienced painters.

They heard about the program through an email from the college's career center in December. James Roper, Student America's state manager, picked Reddy and Bolt from the dozens who responded.

"What really interested me about them was their ambition, and that they wanted to make a difference in their world and in their lives early on in their college career," Roper said.

Roper got involved with Student Painters when he was a student at the University of South Carolina and made it his full-time job when he graduated last year.

It's entirely possible for students to be trained to become good painters in just a couple of months, he said. It's all about the right attitude.

"Painting is not rocket science; it just takes a lot of hard work," he said. "Really, it's the prep that goes into the job that's the more important and difficult part."

Students are taught not to take shortcuts on sanding and priming because that's the most important part of the job, he said.

As far as price, "We're generally right in the middle," he said.

Student Painters operated in the Charleston area last year, but it was managed by USC students who commuted from Columbia, Roper said. This is the first year the program is managed by College of Charleston students.

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