HOLLAND, Mich. — An unexpected career twist led a Hope College student into the drone business.
We first introduced you to Jeff Zita in 2014, when he was shooting aerial photography of the ice on Lake Michigan. After an outpouring of requests, Zita says he started his own company, called Z-Drones. He’s now done video shoots ranging from a crime scene in Grand Rapids to a sailing competition in China.
“It has, quite literally, taken off for me,” says Zita. “Z- Drones for my last name; Z for Zita.”
The recent Hope College graduate switched gears from his mechanical engineering studies, quickly realizing the potential of his two-year-old startup company.
“(I) got my foot in the door with drone photography and videography before it really became a big sensation,” says Zita. “I’ll be able to make a salary that would be equivalent or more than an engineering job.”
His footage of ice on Lake Michigan “kind of took off and went viral, and all of a sudden I had people contacting me,” says Zita. “That story was kind of the stepping stone, the first stepping stone of my drone business.”
Just from the technology alone, it’s clear that Zita has come a long way since we first talked to him. Back then, he used an entry-level drone with four rotors, but now he’s upgraded to a professional drone with eight rotors.
Zita says he’s done at least 100 shoots, with several new requests each week.
“I’ve been able to travel to the south of France on a 200-foot mega-yacht and do promotional video for it; a once in a lifetime opportunity,” says Zita. “I’ve as well been able to travel to China and film a sailing series for China’s sailing team.”
Zita says he’s also had some interesting jobs closer to home.
“In Grand Rapids, I photographed a crime scene for an attorney who was defending his client,” says Zita. “We’re only at the forefront of what drones can become.”
In fact, Zita says his business has been so popular he plans to hire one or two co-pilots by the end of the year.