Interview with Tom Ethen
AC: Tell us about your business.
TE: I take videos with drones, and I have taken photos my entire life. The most interesting industry is the construction industry. We do inspections of flat roofs – If we can send a man to the moon, why can’t we make flat roofs leak-proof. I fly the drones over flat buildings with thermography to find leaks in the roofs. We get our training and licensing through FAA to fly drones over certain areas. I fly with one other person, in accordance with FAA regulations, which requires a visual observer. We have been in business for 3 years.
AC: Who is your target customer?
TE: It depends. Ideally, property managers and building owners. The challenge in this industry is that roofers should be my target audience, but a lot of times they prefer to just replace the entire roof instead of fixing small problems. About 80% of roofing materials taken off roofs are dry, but since roofers aren’t able to see the small areas of damage with a thermography drone, they replace instead of repair.
AC: What has been the greatest impact of covid-19 on your business?
TE: There has basically been no business because school districts don’t know what their funding will be. I’ve done my own research on school buildings where there are leaks all over, but with all the uncertainty on funding and Covid, they don’t know when or how to find budgets to fix the problems.
AC: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
TE: Go fishing! There is so much uncertainty – look at the business closures of downtown Spokane, there is a lack of funding to fix roofs at this time. It’s like pushing a wet noodle, you can’t get very far.
AC: What is one mistake you have made along the way that other people can learn from?
TE: One example of a major mistake, was that I wanted to go out and buy equipment then find out what to use it for. Instead of finding the market first, and then buying the equipment as needed in order to match that market. Research who’s going to buy your products and whether they will actually buy when the time comes.
AC: What is inspiring to you today?
TE: I get excited about learning new things. Curiosity! Things are constantly changing in our world, learning new things and finding new ways to do things. If you keep learning and trying to stay ahead of the curve by watching others, learning from them and take it to the next level. Be curious about new things
OFFER: Mention this newsletter and we can schedule a consultation on what to look for and what not to look for when you hire someone to fly a drone for you. Also, we can talk about why you should hire your uncle Bob who owns a $500 drone!