Words By: Scopito ©
Colorado Aerial Imaging’s insights to being a successful DSP.
“I see a lot of people worrying about drones invading their privacy.
It never worried me much. My life is just not that exciting – people flying over my house; they won’t see anything that they could sell to a news outlet and make good money.
I’m not Tom Cruise.”
– Scott Fredericksen, CEO, Colorado Aerial Imaging
Though he might be a few movie-deals behind, Scott Fredericksen has the edge on Cruise, when it comes to aviation expertise. With 21 years in the US Army National Guard flying BlackHawk’s (UH-60), Huey’s (UH-1) and Scouts (OH-58s), he knows his way around a cockpit. He even ended up as the Aviation Battalion Commander in Colorado, before he left to become an entrepreneur four years ago.
With a degree in Aerospace engineering and a professional software engineer, it made sense to Scott, to start a company in the drone industry. He partnered with a former UH-60 Blackhawk crew chief and friend, Greg Bergin. Together they piloted Colorado Aerial Imaging.
“We had similar vocabulary, coming from the army. Our experience and mindset really helped us in developing the training and maintenance program, we run today.”
– Scott Fredericksen, CEO & Chief Pilot
Colorado Aerial Imaging
The team got in touch with Scopito, and collaborated on key features, based on what they knew was needed, to help utility linemen.
When I asked about the biggest challenge Scott faces, he pondered a bit. Then he started with an analogy:
“What we offer is similar to going to the doctor. It will cost you money, and you won’t get good news. The doctor never tells you to keep eating all that junk and spending time on the couch.
What we show our customers are issues that they need to attend to, and it will be an additional cost.
But in the end, if they listen, it can help their utility avoid a heart attack.
That’s what we need to show them, and that is the most difficult task.”
Most utilities have been doing things the same way, for the past 100 years. Convincing them to change their ways, is not an easy task, but it is one that Scott and his team needs to address.
Luckily, they have already had a lot of success, as they are currently flying for the two largest Rural Electric Associations (electric utilities) in Colorado.
Scott contemplated some more. It seemed Colorado Aerial Imaging was facing resistance from their customer’s customers as well.
“A major problem, in the United States in particular, is the level of suspicion towards drones. It is fueled by the media.”
Scott and his team of pilots are often approached by civilians when flying a job. Especially when ensuring right of way in residential areas. They are alerted by the drones, and want to know, why they are flying and what imagery they are capturing.
“We always welcome people to come look over our shoulder, and we explain to them, what the images are being used for. I found that most of the time, people quickly see that not only is there nothing to fear, but we are actually doing a valuable job.
They really appreciate their Utility going the extra mile to ensure reliability and safety for them as the customer.”
Besides securing a reliable flow of energy to consumers, UAV inspections greatly reduce the risk to linemen. As Scott puts it: “now they can sit in their office or car and see exactly what kind of equipment they will need for a job, directly in Scopito.”
Living in Colorado, they have mountaintops 14.000 feet high. This means a lot of sites that are hard to get to, and Colorado Aerial Imaging specializes in surveying these areas.
“Trees and harsh weather make it challenging. We often hire firemen with wildfire experience, because they are comfortable in those conditions.”
What do you think your challenges might look like in 5 years?
“Nothing like they do now. I think the market will evolve a lot.
Remember when cell phones started having cameras in them? People went crazy. They wanted to ban phones in restaurants. Now you don’t think twice about someone taking pictures of their food.
I think the same thing will happen with drones. They will become the new normal.”
– Scott Fredericksen
If your Utility could use a medical check, we can help.
Reach out to us and we will help you find the right Drone Service Provider for the task.
Or, if you reside in Colorado, why not give Scott a call?