By Alyssa Stahr – Inside Towers Special Correspondent
In the heart of the Midwest’s Grundy County, IL, sits RF Guys, a new turnkey telecommunications solutions company. RF Guys was inspired by a father and created and launched by a son who has set out to provide the highest available level of wireless installs; upgrades; decommissioning; survey and inspection; and preservation of older wireless systems and equipment.
Brandon Kindelspire’s father, Chris Kindelspire, is the director of emergency communications for Grundy County, which meant Brandon was around towers from an early age. When he turned 18, he began working for a company that often did jobs for Grundy County. For 10 years, Brandon Kindelspire worked all over the West Coast, the Rocky Mountain Region and in the Chicago area market. Because he wanted to be closer to home, he took more jobs in Chicago, but that meant getting laid off during the winter months due to the weather. That sparked plans to create his own company with his father as an advisor.
“We’ve been talking about doing it for three years, and we decided to open up at the beginning of last month,” Brandon Kindelspire said. “There’s definitely a lot of legal hoops to jump through, especially with the drone.”
RF Guys also provides top-of-the-line aerial mapping/photography capabilities that cuts normal inspection time into fractions of what was available in the past. Aerial services include, but are not limited to, cellular/utility towers; post-disaster documentation; search and rescue; wind turbines; grain elevators; industrial inspections; wildlife conservation data; commercial/residential photography; watercraft marketing; construction progress updates; golf course flyovers; agriculture inspections; insurance claim adjustments; industrial security surveys; inaccessible terrain; smoke/flare stacks; auto salvage yards; civic special events; and GIS mapping. Depending on what the service is, RF Guys plans on expanding back to the West Coast and possibly the East once the Chicago market takes off, so to speak.
When it comes to tower inspections via the drone, Kindelspire said that the idea started after a straight year of power audits.
“Two of us would go out and rotate and take 150 to 200 pictures for a close out, or even for audits. More and more we’ve been practicing getting as close as we possibly can to the tower, just the best pictures possible,” he said.
When talking about drones, Kindelspire said that some are of the photos are almost better than if you were on the tower yourself taking the picture, but behind whatever you needed to take the picture of. Not only do drones keep a climber off of the tower, which is a hazardous environment, but Kindelspire can fly up a 400-foot tower and have almost every picture he needs in 10 to 12 minutes. That’s the same amount of time it would take to get to the site, set up, get the safety equipment out and not even get on the tower yet. There isn’t a need for a crew, so it’s a streamlined process.
Additionally, the software used is turnkey. Kindelspire said that speed is definitely the selling point with drones.
“You set the height that you want to go to, and you basically press take off, it flies up and will fly the grid that you want to take for the area,” he said. “You can set your pictures to overlap, so it’s a really high resolution. Then you can do multiple overlays, which would show vegetation indexes, elevation, near infrared capabilities—the list is forever. There’s definitely 100 different layers that you could put over the thing to fit the application.”
RF Guys also volunteers its services for search and rescue and post-disaster documentation. Since before starting the tower company, they were volunteers with the Emergency Management Agency.
“Last year we had a bunch of tornadoes come through in the county. They have to have a manned flight come over to take pictures to add in any new changes to the geography, so instead of paying $10,000 to have an airplane and a group of guys fly over, the drone flies itself,” Kindelspire said. “It’s pretty neat stuff.”
The drone then takes photos, and within a couple of days RF Guys can have everything back to the client. The company has sent up a GoFundMe account at gofund.me/2jmadc44 with all proceeds going to search and rescue efforts.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with the emergency side of stuff. I’m pretty close with the director and the coordinators at the Emergency Management Agency, so I told them if you ever need it, it’s free, it’s quick, and I think drones are going to revolutionize so many different things,” Kindelspire said.
As for the future, Kindelspire said that the company’s mission and selling points are that “most telecom companies aren’t recently tower climbers from the past eight to 10 years. We have an advantage as far as knowing exactly what the industry wants, needs and the standards.” He said that he’s noticed that some companies “jump the gun a little bit” in hiring guys who may not provide the best service or have the most experience.
“Our main idea is to basically revolutionize that part of the industry where the customer says what they want; that’s what they get and extra. We’re definitely going to go above and beyond, definitely from what we see,” Kindelspire said. “We’re definitely going to set a standard.”
For more information, visit http://www.rfguysuav.com/.