From Inside Business By SANDRA J. PENNECKE
Jimmy Olivero was in New York City for work when his business — and life — came to a screeching halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He hopped on a plane the next day to return to Hampton Roads and figure out his next step.
Owner and chief drone pilot for the Virginia Beach-based small business Lyfted Media, Olivero has worked in the unmanned aerial systems industry since 2006.
In 2017, he formed his company, which primarily focuses on filming commercials, television shows and mainstream and Netflix movies.
“We’re part of the camera crew providing the drone work,” he said.
The company also shoots construction sites, so developers can monitor progress, and sports and live entertainment.
“They shut down the NBA and the NHL, which caused us to miss out on the remainder of our contract,” Olivero said. “And that hurt our business pretty bad.”
In response, Olivero pivoted to a new type of drone-related service — disinfecting.
“I read an article about companies in China that were using the spray drones to disinfect certain areas,” Olivero said.
The business already had drones used to spray pesticides over crop farms and vineyards.
“Basically, we put the EPA approved COVID-19 solution inside the tanks and started spraying that,” Olivero said. “Now we’re ready to go.”
Following a test flight at Norfolk Scope this month, Lyfted Media was officially ready to provide COVID-19 cleanup of large spaces including arenas, stadiums, convention centers and city parks.
The Agras MG-1-S-8 rotor spray drone holds up to 10 liters of a non-hazardous disinfectant solution and will not harm seat materials such as leather, cloth or wood.
The drone flies 5 to 10 feet above affected areas, sprays 13 to 20 feet in width and covers up to 15,000 square feet an hour.
Olivero said cost, which starts at 26.5 cents per square foot, depends on the square footage of the facility.
“We know the drone is not the end all be all, but we’re trying to combine new drone technology with traditional cleaning methods to open up these places faster,” said Olivero. “The drone saves time and covers more ground than traditional methods.”
Olivero said he wants to help the Hampton Roads community get back to work. And then he’d like to take the service wherever else it is needed to help fight the virus.
“Kind of like with our traditional drone services — a production company calls us in Atlanta, Texas or Florida and we go anywhere,” he said. “We’re trying to get this off the ground, no pun intended. I’ve seen how COVID-19 has affected the small business owner and I just want to be able to partner with my community and give people peace of mind.”
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-222-5356, firstname.lastname@example.org