From piloting Survival Flight jets to real estate-enhancing drones, this man makes smooth transition

 From piloting Survival Flight jets to real estate-enhancing drones, this man makes smooth transition

Brad Ziemer is the owner of Windowstill, a premium real estate photography service.

Ziemer’s zest for creating new businesses reflected in Windowstill’s success

Brad Ziemer’s transition from piloting University of Michigan Survival Flight jets to coordinating the operation of drones to showcase for-sale properties has, well, taken off.

Ziemer, a former resident of South Lyon, is the owner of mid-Michigan-based Windowstill, a rapidly-growing real estate photography company whose seed was planted in Michigan before spreading to 20 states – all since 2015 – with a goal to have real estate photographers in all 50 states in the not-too-distant future.

“I worked with a lot of donor transplant-related assignments,” Ziemer said of his U of M days. “We’d also transport patients who lived in the Upper Peninsula to hospitals in the Lower Peninsula. A lot of people think of helicopters when they hear ‘Survival Flight’, but I flew a jet.”

Always looking for a new adventure, Ziemer admittedly grew bored with his aviation career and started attending photography classes at Washtenaw Community College.

His passion for photography combined with an urge to develop new businesses led to the founding of Windowstill, which prides itself on providing Realtors with high-quality still photographs, drone-shot aerial videos and three-dimensional virtual tours of homes with an efficient turn-around time and cost-effective prices.

“Before I started Windowstill and before drones became commonplace, I would rent a two-seater plane and take aerial photos of properties,” he said. “Due to the cost of renting the plane, the aerial shoots could cost as much as $1,000. Getting aerial video with a drone cost about $200, so that eliminated the aerial photo business from the planes.”

An example of a drone photograph taken by a Windowstill photographer

The minute Ziemer committed to Windowstill, he decided he was going to be all-in in a big way.

“We decided to scale it like crazy right away,” he said. “We knew right away we were going to start with at least 100 photographers. This actually made it easier for me because our clients weren’t expecting me to take all the photos. When you have one (real estate) agent, everybody wants to work with him or her. With us, our clients knew they were getting a team.”

Ziemer said Windowstill’s business has doubled or tripled every year since 2015, “with the exception of this year because things are slowing down a little bit. Instead of 200%, we’ll be at around 150%, but we’ll take it.”

Ziemer explained the name of his company is derived from looking out a window and everything is still.

“Once we were able to get it trademarked and we secured a website domain, we went with it,” he said.

Windowstill currently employs approximately 230 people – 150 photographers and 80 editors.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Ziemer has founded a real estate-related cleaning company – “For those homes we are assigned to photograph that are trashed,” he said – a flight school and a virtual training business.

Windowstill has hired a CEO – Mandy Williams – to help steer the company while Ziemer spreads his business savvy to other ventures.

He said the next “big thing” in real estate marketing is virtual staging.

“To pay someone to stage a house with furniture costs about $2,500,” he said. “We can do it virtually – PhotoShopping furniture into virtual images of the home – for about $25. And the results are amazing. You’d never know there wasn’t really furniture in the home.”

To learn more about Windowstill, visit its website here.

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