In the midst of a crisis, it may be useful to know that there’s a company based in Kilmarnock with crisis management expertise. It’s called ERUdyne. And now that it has successfully petitioned Lancaster’s leaders to designate the county a drone-friendly zone, ERUdyne plans to take its business to new heights, which includes expanding into mission-based drone services.
What ERUdyne does
ERUdyne’s core business is crisis management support and infrastructure protection. It offers training in emergency management, national security, risk mitigation, and recovery, and the company focuses on a range of topics, such as active shooter, insider threat and pandemic events, such as COVID-19, explained CEO Suzanne Novak, a former FEMA reservist.
“We also develop exercises, write emergency response and emergency action plans, develop business continuity plans and support response and recovery efforts at all levels of government and the private sector. We work with government, businesses of all sizes, and non-profits to ensure they are prepared to respond to and recover from any incident that may occur, whether it is a natural disaster or otherwise,” she added.
ERUdyne recognizes drones aa a key tool
After Hurricane Maria, ERUdyne assembled a corporate crisis management team to support high-level executives working on the ground in Puerto Rico. The mission relied on drones to track the movement of people and the monitor conditions.
“Drones played an essential role is helping us bridge the knowledge gap,” explained Novak. And once the mission was complete she considered more ways the company could use drones in its work. But she also wanted to ensure she could set the standards and would have access to the right pool of drone pilots. As a result, ERUdyne launched a Drone Flight School, a drones as a service division, and helped create the Global Remote Pilots Association, a network of licensed drone operators that can be deployed for various assignments.
Although other companies offer drone training and services, ERUdyne is focused on the niche of drones for mission-based uses. The company has worked with members of Lancaster’s emergency medical services, Northumberland County Sheriff’s office, and two Lancaster County detectives went through its class. And in April, ERUdyne was planning to host a mission-based public safety course to address real life situations, like search and rescue and crowd control.
ERUdyne also won a UAS Services contract that helps the company procure agency services in Alaska and Hawaii.
“We pursued the UAS Services contract because we are very confident in our ability to provide these services in a consistent manner with how we provide resources in the other aspects of our business. Our teams consist of seasoned professionals that came out of the military, law enforcement, emergency management and homeland security so it was a natural fit to apply our knowledge and experience to the use of drones in these situations. Drones are a tool. We know how to use them,” said Novak.
Drone-friendly designation paying dividends
ERUdyne pushed for the drone-friendly designation in Lancaster to help attract attention to the county as an great place for drone-related businesses. Being a rural waterfront locality between Washington DC and the Hampton Roads area is ideal, said Novak.
And the designation “put a stake in the ground” that makes it easier for the company to pursue its goals. The drone-friendly zone label is helpful when you’re trying to get things done involving the state and federal government, such as trying to get a training certified so it can be funded through the GI Bill. “It’s one more thing that can say here’s who we are, here’s where we are, here’s what this is when someone from outside is looking at it,” Novak explained.
She’ll measure measure success of the designation by the number of jobs she creates, the partners the company is able to attract, as well as the contracts ERUdyne is able gain from it. And there are already positive results.
EURdyne recently hired Brittany Zelaya as operations assistant and Jamie Carpenter as director of the Drone Flight School and Testing Center.
Also, at the kickoff event for the UAS services contract, someone from the Center for Innovative Technologies overheard ERUdyne talking about the drone flight school. Shortly after, that individual came from Richmond and spent hours in Kilmarnock getting acquainted with what ERUdyne is all about.
“Before that, I’d called them and never got a phone call back,” said Novak. “I don’t think ERUdyne would have gotten that type of attention with the drone-friendly resolution.”
But ERUdyne isn’t only focused on its own success. The company is proud to be about 90% veteran-staffed. It uses veteran drone pilots and partners with veteran-owned businesses. Many of ERUdyne’s educational and training programs are motivated by a goal of creating skill-building opportunities for veterans or those leaving the military.
For example, through its Military Partnership Program, ERUdyne conducts outreach to the different branches and various support organizations, aiming to help soldiers transition their military skills and experience to be applicable in helping corporate entities, like those in need of drone pilots for missions related to the oil and gas, energy, power and communications industries.
And ERUdyne aims to develop a brick-and-mortar resilience center to serve as a hub for monitoring missions. Not only will that allow the company to add local people to assist the team that’s working across the country, but Novak also hopes it can serve as a training center for a veteran incubator, teaching individuals how to set up similar operations.
There is growing concern about the prospects for Lancaster County, with some claiming it’s a dying community with little to nothing to offer young people. Novak said she can’t see that and she isn’t buying into it. Instead, she wants to use ERUdyne to make a difference.
ERUdyne held drone clinics for youth at the Boys and Girls Club and partnered with Lancaster Community Library to provide drone camps for teens. “We want to provide an alternative vocational training and help our future leaders learn how to fly and use drones, understand artificial intelligence, data analytics, and cyber security in leading edge applications to give these kids a hope and opportunity for their future,” said Novak.
“I don’t have time to listen to why things can’t be done. You’ve just got to be creative. We got veterans out there. We’ve got young people that need a career. We’ve got these kids here that need some type of hope. That’s what I care about,” she said.