Business

CEO of Palmetto-based It Works! sets record with $14.5 million home, island purchase

BOKEELIA -- A Palmetto business owner who has made a splash in the past few years with his health and beauty products company has paid the highest price ever for a private residence in Southwest Florida.

According to listing agency Michael Saunders & Co., It Works! CEO Mark Pentecost purchased Little Bokeelia Island on Wednesday for $14.5 million. The sale of the private island just minutes off Southwest Florida's Gulf Coast establishes a new record price for a single family residential property sale in Southwest Florida. The previous record was $13 million paid in March 2006 for a home at 1067 Westway Drive in Sarasota, according to Multiple Listing Service data.

Michael Saunders & Co. agents Klaus Lang and Jennifer Calenda listed the 104-acre island midway between Sarasota and Naples. It sold

for $10 million less than its $24.5 million asking price.

Victoria Stultz, an agent with the company's Palmer Ranch office, represented the buyer.

The island is the latest property Pentecost and his wife, Cindy, have incorporated into what he describes as a life of hard work and serious recreating. The couple also own a ranch and golf course.

"I like to make money like Warren Buffett, but I like to relax like Jimmy Buffett," Pentecost said.

Pentecost's purchase includes 3.5 miles of shoreline, a 6,486-square-foot 1920s Spanish-style estate home with attached guest wing, a cluster of several restored Florida cottages arranged around a village green and the basic infrastructure and permitting rights for 29 construction-ready home sites.

Sellers Tom and Elizabeth Munz owned the island 26 years. They bought it for $1.5 million in 1989.

Offers came in from potential buyers in India, South Africa, China and Canada, as well as from Florida and several other U.S. states. It had been on the market for more than three years.

"To sell a property of this magnitude takes time, so the sellers knew they had to be patient until a buyer finally emerged who felt as passionate as they did about owning such a unique and high-value property," said Lang in a press release Wednesday.

Once home to Charles Burgess, inventor of the dry cell battery, Little Bokeelia Island also served as a strategic outpost for Calusa Indian encampments and to monitor ships moving in and out of Charlotte Harbor. In his time on the island, Burgess frequently entertained fellow inventor and part-time Fort Myers resident Thomas Edison.

The property has also been known as Burgess Island. The Munzes changed the name for marketing purposes, according to Michael Saunders spokesman Tom Heatherman.

Pentecost already owns substantial real estate in Manatee County. Between 2011 and 2013, he bought a 1,005-acre ranch near Myakka City for $4.25 million. In late 2010, he purchased Stoneybrook Golf Course at Heritage Harbor in East Manatee for $3.475 million from Lennar Homes. His primary residence is a home in The Inlets in Bradenton.

Pentecost has a penchant for developing his holdings into fun, functional properties. He announced plans last year to construct a large guest bunkhouse at his ranch, and he built a new penthouse level onto the It Works! building devoted to social gatherings.

Little Bokeelia will be no different. Pentecost said it will be a personal retreat he and his family will regularly access via boat and helicopter. He also plans to host corporate retreats in the "Old Town" bungalow village.

"For me using these properties, I can reward others," he said. "I try to do as much business as I can at the ranch, at the golf course and now at the island."

Pentecost said he does not plan on developing the other home sites on the island.

Pentecost's business, It Works!, operates out of a $10 million headquarters it opened in the former Riverside Plaza in Palmetto in June 2014. The company claimed $538 million in sales in 2014.

Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.

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