Steelworker James is aiming high with drone business

Tees Business Digital Media Pack
James McDermott with his drone. Photograph: Stuart Boulton

A former steelworker has set up his own drone business following support from the SSI Task Force.

James McDermott was a Structural Inspector for SSI in Redcar before the closure in 2015. After six months of unemployment, James found work within his industry as a Quality Technician Inspector in Newcastle before gaining employment as a Plant Inspector at Seal Sands.

“I really did love my job,” explained James, 39. “But I’ve always wanted to start my own business and I had to think long and hard about how I wanted to do it. I wanted to stay within inspection if I could, as that’s where my field of expertise is.”

His business, Overview Drone Services, captures footage of structures in hard to reach places such as rooftops, chimneys and tall structures for inspection purposes.

James also conducts land surveys which provide up to date and detailed information of an area of land such as geographic terrain and distance measurements.

“Using drones for inspection purposes of a site is much more cost-effective for a business,” explained James. “Quite often, a business might have to shut off a particular area of the site to allow for manned access to carry out inspections, but with drones that’s not necessary, as the risk to safety is greatly reduced.

“Drones can be deployed quickly and collect vast amounts of data in a short space of time.”

The business also provides aerial film and photography services to show large areas of land, which could have development potential, or for marketing purposes within real estate.

James, who lives in Billingham with his wife and two children, added: “It’s a very busy time, but I really enjoy this type of work, so I’m glad my business is within the field I’ve trained in.

“The business wouldn’t be where it is without the help from the SSI Task Force and Five Lamps for their assistance on my business plan. It really needed to be top spec and they helped me achieve that.

“Overview Drone Services is still in its infancy, and I would love for it to keep growing, so I just want to get the message out there. I really want to make a good go of this.”

Amanda Skelton, Chair of the SSI Task Force, said: “It is great that James has founded a business that uses the skills and experience which he developed in his career at the steelworks. Over 340 former workers have taken a similar path.

“Funding is available for anyone in the Tees Valley to start out in business. If you have an idea, we would like to hear from you.”


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