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5 in 5! with College Pro Painters

April 8, 2011

College Pro logoCollege Pro Painters was founded in 1971 in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  It became a US company in the late 1970’s and now operates in 30 US States and most of Canada. They specialize in exterior residential painting,  and the majority of summer employees are college students.

College Pro USA president Dave Rychley

President Dave Rychley

For today’s employer 5 in 5!, we talked with President Dave Rychley, now in his 16th year with College Pro Painters.

1. What do you look for when you hire an intern?

College Pro specialized in working with students who want to learn how to run their own business.  Our business is painting, but our interns (franchise managers) are in charge of actually operating their own painting business in the spring and summer months.

In making hiring decisions, we have found that past performance in school, extra-curriculars, and previous jobs often dictates how well the student will work in our company.  We have a two-step interview process and focus on finding students who have strong values, drive/work ethic, a preference to lead and be in charge, and are open-minded.

In addition to our standard two-step interview process, College Pro also requires all potential franchise managers to complete a standardized assessment test that is calibrated to help tell us whether someone will be successful in the role.

2. How did you get started in the industry? How can I get started?

I have worked with College Pro for 16 years. I started with the company as an 18-year-old freshman and was a franchise manager with College Pro in Minnesota. I worked four summers in that role and was one of the top franchise managers in the country. Upon graduation, I was promoted and moved to Chicago to be a general manager.  General managers recruit, train, and manage an average of 20 franchise managers. I did that role for three years and then moved to Seattle to be the vice president for our West Coast Division.  I was in that role for eight years, and recently moved back to Chicago, where I was promoted to president of College Pro Painters – USA.

3. What is the future of your industry?

As long as there continue to be wood-sided homes, there will be a bright future in the painting industry. Homeowners need to protect and beautify their most important asset, and they need to do so every 7-10 years.

While painting is the end-product of our business, I would say an equally important aspect of what we do is provide an entrepreneurial experience to young adults.  We work with about 350 franchise managers across the US every summer (and another 200 in Canada) who are gaining real-world experience running a business. They employ 5-10 painters each over the summer, and those painters are earning a summer wage. I would say we are a very important part of the student job market.

4. What is one main thing an intern can do to make a favorable impression? A negative impression?

The franchise managers in our system that leave the most favorable impression are usually the ones that not only produce the highest volume of sales, but those that do so “the right way.” We measure customer and painter satisfaction very tightly, and each of our franchise managers have a net promoter score that comes from the ratings given by their employees and customers. Those with the highest net promoter scores have impressed a lot of people in their community, and this leaves a great impression.

We live by four core values at College Pro: Deliver What You Promise, Respect the Individual, Take Pride in What You Do, and Be Open-Minded to Possibilities.  Those that leave a negative impression are usually not living up to one or all of the above values.

5. Give us a positive intern story? A horror story?

There are too many to just choose one. Our average franchise manager runs his/her own $70,000 business over the summer and gains experience in marketing, sales, management, recruiting/interviewing/hiring, financial management, and customer service.  He or she will employ 5-10 painters and will satisfy 25-30 customers.  Any of our franchise managers that completes our internship program with high values, solid customer service, and satisfied employees is a positive story in my book.

I’m not sure I feel comfortable answering the second part.  While the program does not work out for everyone, it does not feel right for me to tell anyone’s specific story if it is a “horror story”.

Interested in interning for College Pro? Check them out on

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