Arkansas’ first drone store lands in downtown Little Rock, seeks to sell to agri, energy and other industries
Arkansas’ first retail drone location landed in downtown Little Rock on Tuesday (Dec. 8) with the hopes of offering an affordable, blue collar version of the unmanned aerial vehicle technology that is now famously engaged in the fight against ISIS.
The new drone store, called ArkUAV, was unveiled during a ribbon cutting ceremony at the company’s new location at 221 W. 2nd St., Suite 416 in the Pyramid Place Building in downtown Little Rock. In a brief ceremony at the company’s new storefront, co-owner Brad Fausett said the company was founded to provide video hardware, sensors and analytic tools to Arkansans, especially those in industries that need better mapping, monitoring and inspection tools.
He said the local company hopes to gain a foothold in the state’s agriculture, utility and oil and gas industries, where drone technology has limitless application and potential. For example, Fausett said, ArkUAV offers drones ideal for mining, oil and gas pipeline inspection, power line corridor mapping and critical infrastructure monitoring – such as transmission towers, power plants, oil rigs, bridges and other structures that are often difficult to access.
“From monitoring crops in the field, to inspecting and mapping oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) can provide thorough assessments and real-time data that increases yields and bottom-lines,” said the co-owner of the local tech firm.
The local entrepreneur said ArkUAV’s storefront location and e-store allows anyone access to top-of-the-line aerial vehicles and accessories, first-rate training and support, and the ability to create ready-to-fly customized systems.
Fausett said he and the local company’s two other owners have thousands of flight hours under their belt and top industry certifications. He said they can help local companies and hobbyists learn how to use drone technology in their business operations, or just for fun.
“We are prepared to offer aerial vehicles for multiple price points, really focusing on matching the operator with a system that best meets their needs,” said ArkUAV co-owner Anthony Short. “Whether you think a UAV could help your company and are interested in our services, or you just want to have fun on the weekends – maybe test the visibility of your duck blind, we want to be sure the customer understands all of the options available and knows how to safely and responsibly operate their aerial vehicle.”
Fausett said the local company was able to launch with a $200,000 Small Business Administration (SBA) federal loan, backed by Arvest Bank. The company has four employees, but hopes to hire up to 10 within a year of full operation.
Fausett said ArkUAV has also met with administrative officials at e-STEM Public Charter School, only a few blocks from the new drone store. He said ArkUAV plans to work with the school to develop a curriculum and programming to foster interest among Arkansas youth in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.
“After school, we see them coming by here, so we might as well spread the technology to the kids,” Fausett said.
Added co-owner Creighton Ralls: “Across the country, including here in Arkansas, there are major efforts to encourage more students to pursue STEM careers. Robotics integrates all of the STEM fields and is a really fun way for kids to develop these important skills.”