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A picture worth a thousand words

image Kevin Butts poses with camera and a drone before take off.

SAN ANTONIO - A banker with an expensive hobby can be a recipe for disaster, unless, you find a way to utilize your talents.








     Kevin Butts had been a banker for many years and he did have an expensive hobby, flying.  He soon realized after getting his pilot’s license it was too expensive, and had pretty much quit flying. One day, while looking over a loan request for a shopping center which included the usual financial statements, plans and specs, demographics, projected operating statements and some aerial photos, it clicked.  While looking at the photos, Butts thought to himself, “I can do better than this. These photos are terrible. They were blurry, crooked, and the cut was wrong. Even though I didn’t know anything about photography, I just knew I could do better.”
    While sitting there, the light bulb came on he says.  He went home and was playing around with one of those 30-day trial websites wondering what it would look like.  Hours went by as more and more ideas kept popping into his head.  Before long his wife, Kari, asked what he was doing and simply told him no. 
    Not fighting her, as he knew she was right.  They had a young family to take care of and he had a good career. He walked away.  About six months later he came home to find an email from someone looking for aerial shots.  He borrowed a camera, rented a plane and that is how Red Wing Aerials got started.
    Within six months, Butts’ part-time business overtook his banking job in terms of revenue.  His wife finally told him,  “I’m the last person in the world that ought to say this but I think you should quit your job and do this full time.”     
    In 2005, he leveraged his 401k, bought a plane and hasn’t looked back. “We have three photographers, six pilots, three fixed-wing aircraft and three drones. We also have four helicopters in my hangar we can access whenever we need them, but most customers don’t want to pay the premium for a helicopter.  The airplane is the most economic out of the three platforms – helicopter, airplane and drone.”  Red Wing Aerials provides aerial photography services to the commercial construction and real estate industries for pre-development, construction progress, marketing and mapping needs.  “We’ll do photos on the front-end for a developer. The general contractor will call for monthly construction progress photography. Once the project is complete, we’ll have a commercial real estate broker call. If it’s retail, they want photos with a lot of cars in the parking lot.  Black Friday is our biggest day of the year,” says Butts.
    Construction clients who most often call are general contractors and roofers and, occasionally, the owner who is geographically removed from the project.  “Photos help everybody get on the same page.”
    Red Wing Aerials is San Antonio service provider. -cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net