Commercial video company goes coastal

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published April 15, 2015

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Walsh College grad Jesse Ford started his career as an accountant with American Axle in the corporate treasury department.

He is now executive producer of The Work Inc., a digital media agency with four other partners, including his brother Shane, and 11 employees.

The Work recently expanded into a partnership with a company in Los Angeles and was launched with help from the Walsh College Blackstone LaunchPad program. The team met through their involvement in Detroit’s music scene, either as performers or as music venue owners.

Jesse Ford explained that the company works as a subcontractor for many advertising agencies in Detroit.

The Work has done commercial and digital campaigns for Corvette Stingray, Chevrolet Silverado, Lincoln Motor Co. and Herman Miller. The Work’s office is on Detroit’s Riverfront, and the company has  done music promos for Matt and Kim, rapper Big Sean and The National rock band. The Work has produced short films — “The Pleasure of Sound,” shown at the Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, and “Tonight, The Streets Were Dark” for fashion label Revive, which was screened in theaters — and has also directed Ford Mustang’s “Speed Dating” video for Team Detroit, the advertising agency for Ford Motor Co.

According to the Walsh College website, the Walsh College Blackstone LaunchPad is funded by a program of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, in partnership with Automation Alley, a business technology association based in Troy; the University of Miami; Walsh College; and Wayne State University. The program aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs develop and launch their businesses.

Carol Glynn, director of Blackstone LaunchPad, said the program, now in its fifth year, has matured as more and more students and alumni have found success launching or expanding their businesses.

“I was familiar with the program through the email blasts,” said Jesse Ford.

He said he’d always dabbled in small businesses on the side and saw the potential of The Work.

“As a business major, I understood a lot already,” he said.

However, when it came time to set up an employee health care plan and deal with other human resource issues, “Carol and LaunchPad were there,” he said.

Glynn said that of the close to 300 people who have discussed entrepreneurial ideas with LaunchPad, about 150 companies have launched.

“That’s what LaunchPad is all about,” she said, adding that when the program first started, “people didn’t consider entrepreneurship an option as much as they have today. We try to enable them and encourage and inspire them to explore entrepreneurship as a possibility.”

Jesse Ford said his favorite part of his job is the mix of responsibilities.

“With my accounting background, I sat in an office all day,” he said.

Now, while he sits in the office for part of his time, he also goes on the set and works with people from all over the world.

He said that a project in 2011 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Jeep was the breakout project for the company.

“We were traveling to Scotland, France and Belgium to interview enthusiasts of the brand,” he said.

He said he knows he can always go to Glynn if he has a question.

“Also, any incentives and awards we would be eligible for, she’ll let us know,” he added.

For information on Blackstone LaunchPad, visit www.walshcollege.edu and click on Entrepreneurial Services, then Blackstone LaunchPad.

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