Drone inspection service beginning to take off

Frontline Roof Inspection Service business owners, Kevin and Deborah Edwards. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

DOVER — A mom’s intuition was spot on three years ago.

After a Drone Workforce Solution presentation at a Dover Capital City Rotary Club meeting, Deborah Edwards sensed her son would be interested in joining the rapidly growing industry somehow.

“He’s always been entrepreneurial, innovative and ambitious,” she said.

It was August 2017 and Kevin Edwards’ 5 1/2 year United States Marine Corps stint was complete; his life’s next step was undetermined.

Deborah let Kevin know about a course to become drone flying certified almost immediately.

“I said ‘Count me in’ almost before she was done with the sentence,” he said. “It just clicked.”

Kevin flew through a 10-week course in half the time to earn official Federal Aviation Administration remote pilot status.

Looking back now, Chief Operating Officer Kevin gets what his mom was thinking.

“I’d always wanted to start a business but didn’t know what it would be in,” he said. “I knew I had somewhat of an entrepreneurial spirit and like the thought of being my own boss.”

By that October, the mother and son partnership was official — Frontline Inspections LLC entered the business world fray. The company — named to salute its commitment to military-like efficiency and leading from the front while spearheading an industry — specializes in identifying moisture and energy efficiency solutions for facilities.

Through Infrared analytics gathered by a drone, Kevin (a certified thermographer) can identify a building’s shortcomings and provide solutions.

Pictured is an image of underlying moisture inside of a flat roof system. (Submitted photo/Frontline Inspections)

Among the clients are Capital and Caesar Rodney school districts, Chesapeake Utilities Corporation and Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village. Commercial building owners, architects, and roofers could benefit from the services, the co-owners said.

In a letter to the company, Capital School District lauded Frontline for locating points of entry for roof leaks while confronted with several pieces of equipment and material atop buildings.

“After your scanning and the report you provided, it gave me a clearer view of current and possible future failures that needed to be address(ed),” Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds Elliot Hardin wrote in part.

“I was also able to share the findings with our roofing consultant which allowed them to develop a more accurate course of action.”

Said Delaware Ag Museum and Village Executive Director Carolyn Claypoole, “The aerial infrared inspection performed by Frontline … enabled us to narrow our facilities project scope, target areas where we can realize immediate energy savings, and ultimately, save thousands of dollars on our heating and cooling bills.”

Noting his company’s expansion of renewables in its service territory, Chesapeake Utilities Engineer Brennan McKone said, “Frontline’s infrared inspection capabilities identified a series of panels that were not connected to a solar array we installed, which allowed our company to correct the fault and bring the system back to full capacity.”

Self sustaining operation

According to a Rotary Club news release Frontline can identify “hidden defects and leaks in industrial roofs and inoperative solar panels, spot overheated electrical connections, access equipment in difficult terrain, accurately map line corridors and identify insulation deficiencies without the cost or danger of physical inspections.”

A two-person operation in a largely undetermined market proved to be no easy sell, and Frontline’s first self sustaining year came in 2019.

“When you’re starting up you imagine all these endless possibilities and how quickly you’ll move on them but the truth is that it’s an absolute grind,” Kevin said.

Kevin is the operations manager and Deborah the chief strategic officer whose built a multitude of community relationships since moving to the area in 1973, including Rotary Club and Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce memberships and 15 years in the banking industry.

Deborah graduated from Dover High in 1981 and then Wilmington University, Kevin from Caesar Rodney High in 2010 before entering the military.

“We have a proactive service and the challenge we have as a company is that society is often reactive,” Deborah said. “We are looking to make buildings safer and more cost efficient.

“We can identify issues that if they are addressed now will save a truckload of money down the line.”

According to Kevin, “I wouldn’t classify myself as a dronist and this is not a hobby that I’m pursuing.

“This is absolutely about the end results, not the methodology of maneuvering a device in the air.”

More information is available online at frontlineinspects.com or by calling 272-9140 or emailing info@frontlineinspects.com.