Precision Aerial Services, LLC

Turning a hobby into a successful business has been a dream come true for John Carter. In January of 2019, John founded Precision Aerial Services, LLC, encouraged by his son, Andrew. Their shared passion for aviation blossomed from flying kites, model planes, and rockets to airplanes and now drones. Precision Aerial Services is being honored this year as the Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).

A self-professed “geek,” John loves to take things apart and figure out how they work.  He attributes a love of Star Trek as a young person to sparking his fascination with technology. With over 30 years of experience as a professional photographer, the emergence of drone technology was a natural fit, seamlessly combining his love for aviation and photography.

Since its inception in 2019, Precision Aerial Services has rapidly expanded. With 6 drones currently in operation, each is equipped with various sensors including photo/video, thermal, and LIDAR, catering to clients in construction, agriculture, utilities, surveying, and beyond. John envisions future upgrades to include underwater and ground LIDAR services.

Operating in an ever-changing industry, John says one of his biggest hurdles is helping businesses understand what he can do for them. He travels extensively to reach customers who are familiar with this technology and can handle the data load.

Key lessons learned over the years include managing time effectively and prioritizing quality over quantity. Saying no to business is hard but allows him to know his clients well and provide greater service.

John operates as a one-man crew, but not without the support of his family and community, notably his son, who he says is his “ruler and chalkboard.” John has also formed close ties within the drone piloting community – covering for each other when needed and subcontracting larger projects to one another. 

Earning widespread respect in the industry has allowed John to diversify his business. He now offers consulting, beta testing for UAV manufacturers, and training services for novice drone surveyors. Staying abreast of certifications and technology comes naturally, and he loves to learn. For him, self-promotion is his greatest challenge. He says, “To me, advertising is the hardest part of running the business. To run a successful business you’ve got to brag, but I was taught to be humble.”

Holding both the Disadvantaged and Minority Business Enterprise certifications, John was connected to Dominic Poggi, Regional Director of the Southwest Indiana Small Business Development Center (SBDC), to provide insight for the emerging Supplier Development Program (SDP). John’s commitment to continuous improvement was evident in his feedback of the program: “Even owners of businesses that have been there for years learned a lot, just having someone from the outside looking in. The knowledge that is available from the SBDC made you go, wow! I can do a lot better than I’m doing now. The program gave us exposure to potential customers we wouldn’t have otherwise.”

The participants of the SDP quickly identified John as a peer mentor, and he encouraged other minority business owners not to base their business on certifications but to earn success on their own merit. John says the DBE certification can sometimes be viewed as a golden ticket, but it isn’t. His overarching advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is simple yet profound: Seize every available tool and invest the necessary time for success.

Speaking of the SBDC at large, John says, “The SBDC is a gem that doesn’t get a lot of exposure, and businesses don’t know how to use their services. They have everything – marketing, stats, market research. It is an underutilized resource. If you’ve got an idea, go to the SBDC and see if your idea is feasible. But don’t expect them to do the work for you. The advisors are encouraging but will tell you the truth.”

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