Manatee County entrepreneur Mark Pentecost is ending 2021 in party mode.
The occasion? It Works, the beauty, personal care and wellness direct sales company Pentecost co-founded, initially in Michigan, is turning 20 years old.
Much like Pentecost himself, who grew a home-based business into a global brand that’s minted hundreds of millionaires, this is no ordinary anniversary party. Scheduled to be held at his 6,000-acre ranch in Myakka City in east Manatee County, the bash is expected to include fireworks and a surprise musical act being flown in special for the occasion. “I’m going to throw the party of all parties,” Pentecost tells Coffee Talk. He’s contractually obligated to keep the name of the musical guests top secret until the day of the party, he adds, and the exact date is also not being publicly disclosed.
Invitees and guests include It Works employees, network distributors and people from some of the half-dozen charities Pentecost and his family support. “There are so many people who have contributed to what It Works is today,” Pentecost says. “This will be a special moment.”
It Works, with a headquarters in Palmetto, on the north side of the Manatee River, regularly holds big events to celebrate milestones in its network — at least it did, prior to March 2020. Those milestones have helped propel the company, Pentecost says, “to way north of $500 million” in annual revenue. A former high school math teacher and basketball coach, Pentecost and his wife Cindy launched the company from their Grand Rapids home, hoping to make $500 a week.
Back then the main product was what it called the Ultimate Body Applicator — a cloth wrap infused with a botanically based cream that can tighten and tone a body and waist in 45 minutes or less. Pentecost invested $300,000 to $500,000 in the company, and the couple later took out a second mortgage to keep it afloat.
But after a year or so of grinding it out, sales began to take off. That came in the face of some skeptics, both in the product and the sometimes derided direct-sales business model— hence the It Works name. The company has since added several lines of skincare and other products.
A 2013 Business Observer Top Entrepreneur, Pentecost and his family relocated to Manatee County in 2011. He credits the success of the company, with some 200 employees, a second office in Dublin, 100,000 distributors and sales in more than 20 countries, to a family-style culture and genuine give-back ethos.
At 64 years old, Pentecost isn’t stepping down from running It Works. But six years after overcoming cancer, he says he wants to spend more time on his charitable works, which encompass a range of cancer research, education and other human services-focused causes. “I figure when we hit the next 20 years, there will be another guy in charge,” Pentecost says, “so I want to make sure I throw a great party while I can.”
(This story was updated to reflect the correct size of the Myakka City ranch.)