For some people, entrepreneurship is a bit of a luxury — something to pursue while earning a comfortable living elsewhere.
For Justin Caine, becoming an entrepreneur was more of a necessity.
As a person with a disability, the way Caine walked, talked and acted led people to make assumptions about his capabilities. He never struggled to gain entry-level employment, but he was never given opportunities to advance beyond the bottom rung. Even after graduating from Lansing Community College, Caine’s degree still wasn’t enough to break the stigma.
Yet the more people doubted, the more driven Caine became. He decided if no one else would take the chance, it was time to gamble on himself — and with partner Kraig Westfall, Caine started Good Fruit Video in 2009.
The award-winning video production company in East Lansing fosters an atmosphere that Caine never found: a fun, caring culture where team members, able bodied and not, feel appreciated, heard and celebrated. It’s why Good Fruit Video is the recipient of the 2022 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award.
“Entrepreneurship can be really hard, and it’s not always obvious if you’re doing it right,” Caine said. “Receiving this award helps affirm that we’re, indeed, on the correct path.”
The initial outing of Good Fruit Video came out of sheer grit and determination with no seed money or backing; however, a reputation of honesty and integrity soon followed. Caine said one way the company has developed trust is to be forthcoming about what can be done on what budget. The idea, he added, is to over-deliver instead of over-promise.
That authenticity plays into an area where Good Fruit truly prospers. Although the company produces a wide range of videos, its bread and butter has always been in documentary-style work — where clients are using their own words to tell their story.
It’s a strategy that is paying off. Good Fruit Video is in a high-growth phase, with double-digit growth, year after year from 2015 thru 2021 (with the obvious exception of 2020). This year, Good Fruit surpassed 2021’s sales by early July and is pushing to hit triple-digit growth for the first time in its history. Caine and Westfall are currently working on plans to scale up even more in 2023 with additional equipment and staff with diverse capabilities and talents joining the team.
“We have many ambitious goals, and our team is striving very hard to achieve them,” Caine said. “Once we get there, we’ll let you know.”
Whatever the next steps at Good Fruit will be, it will likely be good for business as well as the community. “Do Good. Be Fruitful” is a familiar phrase around the business, and Good Fruit often donates services to help nonprofits, charities and fledgling businesses tell their story and inspire action.
At the end of the day, Caine said, Good Fruit believes doing good comes back full circle.