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The Globe and Mail

In Pictures: Ontario drone company looks for liftoff in oil and gas business

The Sky Guys surveys and photographs oil and gas pipelines, among other things

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Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) offer vantage points that are useful to a broad range of industries. Capitalizing on the growth of drone technology is the goal of Adam Sax, above, who founded Sky Guys Ltd. in March of 2015. With 14 full-time employees at its offices in Oakville, Ont., and Vancouver – and with two more locations in the works for Alberta and Newfoundland – Sky Guys started out targeting businesses in real estate, urban planning, film and television. He is pictured with his dog, Munchkin.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

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His company continues to grow in those areas but also has refocused on niche industrial industries, such as oil and gas pipeline monitoring, power and utility inspection and mapping services and large-scale manufacturing inspection. Sky Guys also has started creating its own proprietary technology and it is planning to launch a UAV school for companies that want to train employees in the art of flying drones.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Sax estimates that Sky Guys will post revenue of about $700,000 for 2016, and he is projecting $3.5-million for next year. Here he is photographed reflected in a framed photo of a drone on the wall in his head office in Oakville, Ont.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

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While most of the company’s clients are Canadian, Mr. Sax recently travelled to Saudi Arabia to pitch oil and gas firms. These companies have traditionally used small aircraft with a pilot and a photographer to monitor pipelines. The photographer takes photos of any faults and then reports them later. This can get expensive; Mr. Sax says one of Sky Guys’ clients spends $50-million a year in pipeline monitoring in Canada alone.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

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One of the problems that Sky Guys has encountered, however, is that, particularly in the oil and gas sector, there is a mistrust of disruptive technology and a tendency to maintain the status quo. “We face challenges to convince those industries to try something new and different,” he says. “[Our technology] puts existing jobs at risk and creates new jobs, so there’s always a comfort issue for industries to take on something so new.”

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

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