The corporate world and college weren’t for him, so Chris Fink decided to follow the passion he found in a hobby to create what is now a drone business — Unmanned Vehicle Technologies — with 11 full-time employees and about seven others working part time.
After a few years of working as a police and fire dispatcher and volunteer firefighter in Northwest Arkansas, Fink moved to Orlando to handle IT for his brother’s mortgage company. That’s where he began to dabble more seriously with drones. With encouragement from others, Fink expanded his hobby by selling drones and ancillary equipment. He also convinced his then-girlfriend — now wife — to move to Northwest Arkansas.
“It was always my goal to move back here,” Fink said.
He founded UVT in Orlando in 2014, and relocated the operation to Fayetteville in 2016. And it’s been growing ever since. His long list of clients includes the Arkansas State Police, the Arkansas Department of Transportation, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Benton and Washington county sheriff’s offices, and Ozarks Electric Cooperative. His “bread and butter” is drone software and hardware sales, but their work also includes repair, equipment testing, and training.
“It has grown rapidly, and we continue to learn lessons along the way,” Fink said with a laugh. “But we’re building a passionate and responsible team, and I’m really proud of that.”
He attributes part of his success to his mom, Cathy, and dad, the company’s chief financial officer, and his wife, who also works for the company. He stressed that he learned about the entrepreneurial spirit from his mother, who had a business at their home as a kid.
Fink sees himself in the business until he decides to retire.
“This company is literally my child. It really, I hope, is my retirement. I’m a workaholic. It’s in my blood.”