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Originally from South Dakota, K-State student Luke Bietz grew up around his father’s meat locker business, which put the entrepreneurial bug in him. Bietz will have a large degree of autonomy as he manages a branch of the house painting company in Manhattan over the summer.

Growing up watching his father and grandfather run a business sparked an interest in Luke Bietz.

The K-State sophomore from South Dakota caught the business bug from them at a young age. His dad owns a meat locker called Blue Bird Locker in Delmont, South Dakota.

“And him being a business owner kind of sparked my interest in business, I guess you could say,” he said.

Bietz often helped out at the store in his youth.

“That was a big part of my life growing up,” he said.

He and his roommates in Manhattan enjoy a full freezer of speciality meats.

Bietz, who plans to graduate from the university in 2023 with a business degree, said he enjoys the Midwestern way of life, which is something he says South Dakota and Kansas have in common.

“It’s not too different,” he said.

Bietz chose to come to K-State after hearing from an older friend studying here.

“It’s great having people like that show me around Manhattan,” he said.

After taking in a football game and attending a campus visit, Bietz decided he found his place.

“For college, I always wanted to go away from South Dakota because I always see myself coming back home,” he said. “So I kind of wanted to get out and see what I was missing out on.”

He and his friends enjoy poker nights on Wednesdays.

“That’s always fun on Wednesdays,” he said. “Other than that, I’m just a regular college kid.”

Transitioning to online learning during the coronavirus pandemic was less than ideal for Bietz. He said it was harder to make friends as a freshman because he wasn’t in in-person classes.

“I’m not a fan of the online stuff,” he said. “Obviously, it’s needed right now.”

The 20-year-old will spend his summer painting homes. Bietz will lead a crew with College Works Painting in the Manhattan area this summer. The company hires college kids for what it calls “internships,” and they paint homes from late May or early June until September or October.

“Meeting with clients is just so much fun, talking about their house and the history of the house,” he said. “Some of these old, beautiful houses in Manhattan, it’s really fun to tour them and get to look at them.”

District manager Kory Finley said he chose Bietz as the leader this summer because of his superb communication skills.

“He also just showed like a drive and willingness to do things that most college students wouldn’t do,” he said. “I found there’s not a lot of people willing to literally go and talk to people face to face. It’s very challenging.”

College Works offered him the internship in 2020, but Bietz turned it down.

“I didn’t feel like I was quite ready for it,” he said.

This ended up being “a blessing in disguise.”

When K-State closed last spring because of the pandemic, Bietz returned to his native Parkston, South Dakota, and found a job. Bietz and his mother were getting ready to return to Manhattan to get the rest of his things, but he had a seizure.

“That morning when we got up to leave, I actually had my seizure, so we never went back to Manhattan,” he said.

Bietz saw a neurologist and found out he had epilepsy. He said he hasn’t had any episodes since the initial one last spring and takes medication for it.

This year, the company offered him the position again.

“I was pumped up and definitely thought I was more ready for it,” he said. “So I went ahead and took the opportunity. Now, we’re doing it.”

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