Spotlight on Joseph Dell - Austin Walker
When he was a child, Joseph Dell was given a toy rocket that he promptly launched hundreds of feet into the sky. It sparked an interest in aviation and since then, decades of work at several jobs laid a foundation that has been a great benefit to his work now—primarily as a professional drone operator.
For DroneUp, Joseph flies commercial real estate missions documenting and showcasing properties for The RMR Group (RMR), an alternative asset management company that manages properties across the United States. He operates in Georgia, where he captures commercial property videos and photographs for property managers nationwide.
Call Sign: mobius404
Badges: Part 107 Certified, Aerial Inspection, Aerial Mapping, 360 Image, Thermal, AIRDATA Pro, DJI Pro, Cinematic Pilot, Drone Registration, DroneDeploy, Insurance Verified, NC Operator, Pix4D
Early in his career, Joseph worked as an accountant for an architect and developer in Atlanta, whom Joseph claims “built all of downtown Atlanta.” He credits his time there for enlightening him about real estate, what it does for communities, and how to showcase it.
“One of my most prized possessions from that era is a 3′ x 5′ aerial photo of Atlanta before they built all that stuff,” Joseph said. “It was an example of how you need to envision that project from an aerial scale to visualize what can be done.”
In the age of COVID-19, it has become significantly more challenging for property managers and landlords to travel to remote properties that require getting on an airplane. Photographs and videos taken from the ground help, but they don’t provide a great perspective of the location. Surrounding businesses, roadways, and scenery are often not shown, and those are key to evaluation. Joseph’s understanding of this helps him when he’s flying for DroneUp.
“It’s important for the pilot to put themselves in the role of the potential investor. How do you market that property and make it look attractive from the air? I make sure it’s centered, properly exposed, taken at a time of day highlighting the people around it,” he said. “Keep in mind that the businesses being marketed put jobs in the community. Until it’s sold or repurposed, there will be no jobs. My job is to make other people get jobs.”
Although drone flight services quickly filled in the gaps for these REITs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, their use has proved invaluable, and drone services will likely become a mainstay in commercial real estate overall. New use cases in this sector alone continue to be discovered, and each day drone technology becomes a more integral part of property management.
To Joseph, the impact of drone technology in sectors such as these is apparent. Due to his career in education, where he worked as a school administrator, he sees one of the most important things for the future of the industry is emphasizing STEM and fostering the next generation of scientists and engineers. He’s seen drone technology come a long way, but he keeps his eyes on the horizon.
“I grew up watching The Jetsons, so I’m still waiting on my flying car,” he joked. “I always wish things could go faster, and we have to do a better job of preparing a workforce to be ready for the technology that’s being built.”