MYAKKA -- Seven months after dropping $14.5 million to buy a private island in Lee County, weight loss and wellness industry magnate Mark Pentecost is spending again in Manatee County, buying $6.8 million of ranch land.
Pentecost, the founder and CEO of Palmetto-based It Works!, closed Jan. 6 on 1,955 acres in Myakka located within a stone's throw of 1,020 acres of ranch land he purchased between 2011 and 2014 for $4.25 million. Self described as someone who likes to play as hard as he works, Pentecost has built a bunk house on the property for guests and recently received a permit to build a home on the property, according to Manatee County permitting records.
Taken together, the entire property is named Pentecost Ranch.
Commenting on his latest purchase, Pentecost said he found the land for sale because he and members of his business team are always on the lookout for more land in the Myakka area. Owned by Betty Valenti and her family for several decades, the land lends itself to both recreation and as space for Pentecost to expand his growing beef cattle herd.
"It is a beautiful example of central Florida land," Pentecost said. "It has some pasture land, beautiful hardwoods and a creek that loops through the property."
Last year, Pentecost and his wife, Cindy, made one of the priciest single-family home purchases in the state when they bought the 104-acre Little Bokeelia Island off the coast of Pine Island and near Cape Coral. The sale set a record for Southwest Florida at the time, eclipsing the previous mark of $13 million.
Pentecost stated last year that he buys and develops his properties to use them as fun-filled destinations for his family and as places he can hold corporate retreats. In addition to his ranch holdings and the island, the Pentecosts own the Stoneybrook Golf Course at Heritage Harbour in East Manatee, which they purchased in 2010 for $3.475 million from Lennar Homes. Their primary residence is a home in The Inlets in Bradenton.
The fun theme holds true even at work. It Works!, which got its start in 1995 in Michigan, opened a $10 million headquarters building in the former Riverside Plaza in Palmetto in 2014. Included in the design was a curvy slide for employees to ride between floors and a new penthouse level devoted to social gatherings.
Pentecost said that depending on "timing, value and most importantly a continuation of the activities that make that area of Florida so appealing," he and his wife are interested in buying more land to add to Pentecost Ranch. Some of the largest parcels near the ranch the Pentecosts do not own belong to McClure and Grainger families.
It Works! promotes itself as a fast-growing direct marketer of health supplements, skin care products and body shaping aids. It claimed total sales of $538 million in 2014.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027 or on Twitter@MattAtBradenton.