Mark Pentecost, founder and CEO of a Manatee County-based multilevel marketing firm with nearly half a billion dollars in annual sales and 90,000 worldwide distributors, is a hyper goal-oriented leader.
So when Pentecost told architects and project managers he wanted “something different” for a new corporate headquarters for his firm, It Works Global, he meant it. “I wanted an office experience,” says Pentecost, “not an office building.”
Pentecost also wanted something on the water, where people could boat to work. He wanted something that aesthetically fit his life philosophy of more Jimmy Buffett than Warren Buffett. And he wanted something where employees and distributors could bring their families, take lots of pictures, have a good time and celebrate successes.
Pentecost got what he wanted.
The It Works headquarters, from the second floor slide to the fifth-floor putting green, is one of the more unique office spaces on the Gulf Coast. On the banks of the Manatee River, just outside downtown Palmetto and across from the Regatta Point Marina, the office is home to the firm's 90 employees. The five-story, 50,000-square-foot complex is also designed to become an entertainment hub for It Works' passionate and fast-growing network of distributors. The firm moved into the office in May.
“We wanted a destination,” says Pentecost. “I wanted a place where people don't want to go home at night. I wanted people to love this place.”
Pentecost, along with his wife, Cindy, bought the building that now houses It Works for $3.13 million in late 2012. The then 36,000-square-foot building, on 908 Riverside Drive, was vacant when the couple bought it. Former occupants included a health club and spa and restaurant and bar.
It Works, with a line of skincare and nutrition products, spent around $7 million, not including the building purchase, to make Pentecost's vision a reality. The final product is a few miles but a world away from the company's past headquarters: A staid 16,000-square-foot building on State Road 64 in Bradenton, a mile west of Interstate 75, that was previously an office for concrete and building materials firm Cemex.
Pentecost says his favorite spots in the new building are anywhere people can take memorable pictures. The 14- by-30-foot cascading It Works sign on the front lawn is one standout spot for that.
More favorite spots are found in Pentecost's supersized office. Walls are adorned with life and business milestone pictures. Shelves are stacked with self-improvement and leadership books, such as “Cowboy Ethics.” One futuristic feature is a hidden TV that rises out of a bookcase with a remote. Pentecost connects on Skype calls over the TV to executives overseas. Then he lowers it back down.
Something even cooler in Pentecost's office: A hidden room only accessed by a remote that slides two large bookshelves apart. That room has a recliner and a treadmill.
One final favorite Pentecost spot is the entire fifth floor — which didn't exist in the old four-story building. The idea for that floor, says Pentecost, stems from a company motto, where executives talk often about taking the business to a “whole 'notha level.” That phrase is also printed on the labels of water bottles the firm hands out to visitors. “So I got the idea to take this building to another level,” Pentecost quips.
The top floor, in addition to the putting green, has expansive views of Manatee County. It also has a daytime waterfall that turns into a fire pit at night. Says Pentecost: “I plan on closing a lot of deals out here.”
The It Works Global headquarters is filled with wow-like elements. Lakewood Ranch-based Stellar Construction was the general contractor and Palmetto-based Moore2Design was the architect and interior design firm.
Features in the building include:
Each floor has wraparound decks with views of the Manatee River.
Coffee stations and mini-bistros;
A slide is one way to get from the second floor to the first floor;
Multiple inside and outside creative spaces with comfy bamboo furniture in a Tommy Bahama-Jimmy Buffett style.
Every office has windows and a glass wall system allows light into the center of the building through the rotunda. Inside lights are high-efficiency fluorescence controlled by occupancy sensors.
The countertop on the reception desk is 100% recycled glass and the countertop on the second-floor bistro is 85% recycled glass.
It Works, a Palmetto-based direct sales firm with $456 million in annual sales, encourages employees and distributors to live a debt-free life. The firm is debt-free, says founder and CEO Mark Pentecost, and has been for at least five years.
The company supports its mission with the Freedom Wall on the second floor of its new headquarters, where the word “freedom” is spelled out in oversize capital letters. It Works distributors who attend the company's Freedom seminars place stickers on the letters with financial goals. The letters now have thousands of stickers.
Prove them wrong
Doubters have trailed Mark Pentecost for years.
People doubted him when he quit a high school teaching gig to get into direct sales. People doubted him even more when he invested at least $300,000 and took out a second mortgage to launch his own direct sales business, It Works Global, in 2001. People doubted his decision-making again in 2011, when he chose to move the business from its comfort zone in Grand Rapids, Mich., to Florida.
But Pentecost has constantly proved the naysayers wrong.
The firm, after all, has been an unprecedented success. Sales have grown nearly 1,500% in four years, from $29 million in 2010 to $456 million last year. Pentecost, the Business Observer's Entrepreneur of the Year for Sarasota-Bradenton in 2013, projects the firm will hit some rare territory this year: $1 billion in sales. The firm has 90 employees.
It Works sells a line of skincare and nutrition products through multi-level marketing. That's when a salesperson earns money on sales and on the sales of distributors he or she recruits into the network. The firm's flagship product is the Ultimate Body Applicator wrap. It's a cloth wrap infused with a botanically based cream that can tighten and tone a body and waist in 45 minutes or less.
Company. It Works Global Industry. Multilevel marketing, health and wellness Key. Firm recently moved into its new office in north Manatee County.