It Works! places global company on Palmetto waterfront with aid of Manatee incentives

It Works Global moved its corporate headquarters into Palmetto in 2014 with the help of economic incentives from the state of Florida and Manatee County, and has outperformed expectations ever since.

“They exceeded our expectations, and, I believe, their expectations, too,” Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said.

It Works! acquired an under-utilized four-story, 34,000-square-foot retail building fronting the Manatee River at 908 Riverside Drive, and added a fifth floor and 17,000 square feet of space when it made its move in 2014.

The company, which sells beauty, wellness and lifestyle products through independent distributors in 21 countries, has grown to 173 employees from the 14 it had in 2011 when it moved to Florida from Michigan, said Kate Martin Carlson, the company’s director of public relations.

The move into downtown Palmetto and subsequent renovation eliminated the prospect of having empty office space in the Riverside Plaza building, Bryant said.

Although the company is reluctant to talk about the cost of the building and the renovation, the Herald previously reported the total investment was $10 million.

In 2011, Manatee County approved $108,000 of a $540,000 package of incentives for It Works! and its relocation of company headquarters. The state’s share of the incentive was $432,000, said Karen Stewart, economic development program manager.

In addition, the county approved an economic development incentive grant of $180,000 for the creation of 90 new jobs.

“The actual jobs created were 127,” Stewart said.

Incentives offered by Manatee County and the state were a piece of the puzzle, “a great piece,” Brandt said of the move of the corporate headquarters.

It Works! owners Mark and Cindy Pentecost purchased the Stoneybrook Golf Course at Heritage Harbour in East Manatee for $3.475 million in 2010, and hosted their green carpet events for training, entertainment and team building there.

Eventually, the green carpet events outgrew Stoneybrook. In July, the week-long green carpet event was held at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, hosting 15,000 people from around the United States and the world, said Chris Brandt, a Bradenton native who serves as the company’s director of special projects.

“The economic impact of that is incredible,” Brandt said of the influx of people who rent local hotel rooms, visit area beaches and attractions, and eat in local restaurants.

Although hard work is a mantra at the company, It Works! has some quirky features that ensure the staff has some fun, too, including a slide from the second floor to the first, a putting green on a plaza outside the top floor called “Whole Notha Level,” and “Around the World at 3:05.”

At 3:05 p.m. daily, music is blaring around the building and the staff exchanges high-fives, Brandt said.

“It’s a fun place to work. ‘One team, one mission’ is our motto,” Carlson said.

Mark and Cindy Pentecost are real people with a story that people can relate to, Brandt said.

Before starting It Works!, Mark Pentecost was a high school teacher and basketball coach in Allegan, Michigan, and Cindy was a stay-at-home mom with their three children, according to the company web site.

Their success has worked to the benefit of Manatee County, Bryant said, citing the company’s support of 4-H Clubs, the FFA , Meals on Wheels and a foundation to fight human trafficking.

“It makes me feel good,” Bryant said.

James A. Jones Jr.: 941-745-7053, @jajones1

Incentives at a glance: It Works! Global

Location: 908 Riverside Drive, Palmetto

Incentive approved: 2011

Incentive amount: $540,000 combined contribution by state of Florida and Manatee County. Manatee County provided $180,000 economic inventive for the creation of 90 new jobs.

Projected job growth: 90

Projected average wage: $50,373

Projected capital investment: $5,150,000

Current employment: 173

Source: Karen Stewart, Manatee County Economic Development Program, and It Works Global!