By Kris Cravey
The Holiday season is a great time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished over the year and to look ahead. For DroneUp, 2022 was a year of tremendous growth and progress that we are truly humbled by. On January 1, 2022, we started with 78 full time employees. As of today, we have nearly 600 people onboard…[that’s crazy growth measured against any standard]...and it honors our commitment to add over 500 jobs by year end to the communities we serve. In our new industry and as the Chief People Officer, I know first hand what it took for our teams to recruit, hire, train and on-board over 7x in one year's time. I can’t say enough good things about our people and the collective teams that made this possible.
We are delivering on our commitment with Walmart to open 34 drone delivery hubs across 6 states at key Walmart locations by the end of this year, bringing drone delivery as an option to millions of Americans. This is a massive step forward for the drone industry, retail, last mile delivery, and most importantly, Walmart customers. This expansion is also creating great paying STEM jobs in each of these communities.
One of my proudest moments this year was when our team launched the DroneUp Flight Academy at Richard Bland College (RBC) in Virginia. This is the first accredited, commercial / college partnership training program that is focused on autonomous and connected UAS systems and technologies to equip Flight Engineers (aka pilots) for drone delivery and flight services. Each employee receives 12 college credit hours for completing the program and can apply the credits toward a degree or certificate. This program also creates pathways for high school dual enrollment and RBC college students to complete a certificate, minor or degree in UAS systems. Since opening in late September, we’re on track to have over 170+ graduates by year end and are projecting over 1000+ graduates by the end of next year.
Like every year, we go into 2023 optimistic, but at the same time, cognizant of the challenges we face. We anticipate 2023 will be an even bigger year for DroneUp, for the industry, for our partners, our customers, and our communities. We have big plans, from taking on more unique projects like what we did with RedBull and T-Mobile, expanding commercial drone solutions to new customers and industries, and continuing to grow delivery locations in more communities. We will continue to work closely with the FAA and industry partners to shape the future of safe, commercial drone operations so that the industry as a whole continues to grow and benefit from it.
Both from myself and on behalf of DroneUp, we wish you a Happy Holiday and an uplifting New Year! Thank you to all of our people, our partners, our customers, and our communities for your support in making 2022 our best year yet. We know the best is yet to come for all of us!
The path forward is up!