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Gainesville Student Painter entrepreneur lining up customers, recruiting employees
Johnathan West, left, of Student Painters talks with customer John Holbrooks about the Sherwin Williams training and certification painters will obtain before work begins on the exterior of the Ed Dodd Trail home. - photo by LeAnne Akin

Johnathan West, a University of Georgia student from Gainesville, hopes to run at least an $80,000 business this summer as an intern with Young Entrepreneurs Across America’s “Student Painters.”

As Gainesville branch manager, West recruits marketers and painters for the student development company established in Michigan in 1987 that develops communication and business skills through a summer of real world business experience. Students like West gain the tools needed to become entrepreneurs by running their own painting business. Students can earn money to further their education while building their resume.

West is also in the process of finding customers and conducting estimates for families such as John and Cindy Holbrooks, who have made their home on Ed Dodd Trail for nearly 21 years. Holbrooks said since he retired in January, he has been tackling a list of projects and getting the house painted is on the list.

After a Student Painters sign at a corner on Thompson Bridge Road caught his eye, Holbrooks said he slowed down a couple of days later to get the phone number and website information. He said he was impressed by what he learned by visiting the website and seeing the testimonials.

Because he has a daughter in college at Georgia Southern University, he liked the idea of helping a college student earn money to finance their education and gain valuable on-the-job experience.

“I like that fact that there is a 100 percent guarantee and they are fully insured,” said Holbrooks, who said West and a supervisor came out, took a look at the house and provided an estimate. The project will repaint the white house and change the color of the shutters from black to green.

“We’re excited about getting it done,” said Holbrooks, a U.S. Army veteran. “And we like the idea of giving kids a boost as well.”

West has been interviewing marketers, who must be 16 or older, and will soon begin interviewing for painters who will be trained by corporate partner Sherwin Williams the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May. Painters must be age 18 or older.

“All the painters will be trained and certified before they ever touch someone’s home,” said West, who notes that crews will generally work a 10- to 14-hour day Monday through Thursday and use Friday as a makeup day as needed due to weather conditions. “All of the products we will be using throughout the summer will be high-quality Sherwin Williams products.”

West, who is in his second year at the University of Georgia after graduating from Chestatee High School in 2013, learned about Student Painters when representatives spoke to the marketing major’s class.

“I got hired in February for an internship and I’ve been going nonstop ever since,” he said. “It’s all me, and it’s a good feeling. I like the responsibility that comes with serving as branch manager for the Gainesville area.”

West said he is learning time management as he juggles his coursework while also undergoing his training in Charlotte, N.C.

He said he hopes the signs, social media push and fliers distributed at local high schools and colleges will connect him with marketers and painters and other homeowners in need of exterior paint work.

“We hope to stay busy all summer long,” said West, who notes this internship is a hands-on experience where you learning by doing rather than just shadowing someone.

Since West has lived in Gainesville all his life, he knows the area well but has been making friends in the area in his short time with Student Painters. He is out building credibility locally and will be getting before and after pictures of the homes, obtaining references and providing customers with report cards to gauge their satisfaction.

“I am enjoying meeting with the homeowners and sharing the Student Painters story with them,” said West.

Anyone interested in Student Painters, contact Johnathan West at 770-561-4741 or Learn more about Young Entrepreneurs Across America at

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