It Works!: Taking It to a Whole ‘Notha Level

by Jeremy Gregg

Click here to order the November 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Photo above: The official ribbon-cutting at the new It Works! headquarters in Palmetto, Florida.


Company Profile

Founded: 2001
Headquarters: Palmetto, Florida
Executives: Mark Pentecost, CEO; Pam Sowder, Chief Networking Officer; Mike Potillo, Chief Sales Officer; Doug Nooney, CFO; Chris Burns, CIO; Don Klein, COO; Janne Heimonen, President of International Operations; Don Hamilton, Senior Director of Operations.
Products: Skincare and Nutrition


Founded in 2001, It Works! is one of world’s fastest-growing skincare and nutrition direct sales companies. Ranked at No. 290 on the Inc. 500 list for 2014, the company has enjoyed an impressive 1,565 percent growth rate over the past three years.

Originally based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, It Works! recently invested over $10 million to build a new global headquarters in Palmetto, Florida. Reaching across the U.S. and into at least 17 other countries, the company has amassed 90,000 active independent distributors, supported by the 100 full-time employees of It Works!.

Of the company’s 32 different products, the largest seller remains its first offering: the Ultimate Body Applicator, a non-woven cloth wrap that is infused with a powerful, botanically based formula. The company’s distributors—called “Wrapreneurs”—primarily market this product through home parties that offer their friends and families a way to achieve a tightened, toned and firm body in as little as 45 minutes.

Origin

Before It Works!, Mark Pentecost was a high school teacher and basketball coach living in the small town of Allegan, Mich., with his wife, Cindy, and their three children. Around 1995, the Pentecosts had joined a home-based business in the telecommunications industry, through which Mark Pentecost had become a top-10 earner. While they did not know it at the time, the Pentecosts’ success in direct selling had given them a vision for the future of It Works!.

In 2001, It Works! was founded on Pentecost’s belief in the impact of operating “debt-free” as an individual, but also as a company. He embraced the opportunity to share this message with the company’s distributors. “Debt Free Is the New Sexy” then became the mantra to align the field with the corporate philosophy of debt freedom.


It Works! achieved a 1,565 percent three-year growth from 2010 to 2013, placing it at No. 290 on Inc. magazine’s annual list of the 500 fastest-growing privately held companies in America.


Growing through a Tough Economy

It Works! was entering a major growth period when the economy began to fall off the cliff in 2008 and 2009. Catastrophic economic events were leading many other businesses to retreat in their expansion plans, take on enormous debt to maintain existing operations, or both. Despite these trends, Pentecost and the leadership team at It Works! were inspired to go against the grain: Pursue rapid growth while becoming debt-free.

The move paid off. Unencumbered by debt, the company grabbed a new vision for its future. It Works! achieved a 1,565 percent three-year growth from 2010 to 2013, placing it at No. 290 on Inc. magazine’s annual list of the 500 fastest-growing privately held companies in America.

“I truly believe we have a great team in our field leaders and corporate,” Pentecost says. “I’m confident in our strategic plans to grow both our U.S. and international markets. It Works! will be a recognizable force around the globe.”

Mike Potillo, Mark Pentecost and Pam Sowder welcome guests to the new It Works! headquarters.


Offering a Different Kind of Incentive

In January 2012, It Works! formalized its debt-free concept with the launch of the G.O.O.D. Bonus, which stands for “Get Out of Debt.” Based on performance, the bonuses have ranged from $10,000 to $75,000 on top of commission. Qualifiers are encouraged to use the money to pay off student loans, mortgages, credit cards and other debts.

Pentecost states: “The world today needs to hear about fiscal responsibility. At It Works!, we …”. See the full story on at Direct Selling News!!

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Momentum Award: Momentum through Focus

by Barbara Seale

It Works! Global accepts the Bravo Momentum Award at the DSN Global 100 Celebration held in April.


IN THIS ISSUE:

• Cover Story • 10 Things to Know • The List 
• Topping the Charts • Profiles • Celebration

BRAVO AWARDS: 
• Leadership • Growth • Momentum


It Works! Global


For 11 years Mark Pentecost and his team have had dream jobs. They’ve built It Works! Global™ into a $200 million company on the principle of being debt-free in combination with instant-result products.

It Works! Global built its success on a product line that revolves around the It Works! Wrap—a contouring wrap that can tighten, tone and firm any area of the body in as little as 45 minutes.

For its first nine years the company grew at a respectable rate, picking up the pace month after month. But Pentecost, Founder and CEO, believed it could do better. As he watched the Direct Selling News 2011 Global 100 companies being announced, he set a personal goal: Next year It Works! Global would be in front of the room speaking at the event. Pentecost achieved that goal in 2012 and also set a goal for the 2013 event: accepting an award for a spot in the Global 100. Since the It Works! team stayed committed, accomplishing the goals came naturally. It refined its approach, charged up its corporate employees and distributors, and shot solidly into the middle of the rarified air of this year’s Direct Selling News Global 100.

It Works! Global not only secured the No. 56 position, but it also became the first recipient of the Bravo Momentum Award, created to recognize a company not previously ranked that has demonstrated not only significant growth, but the most significant first-time ranking on the DSN Global 100.

What did that momentum look like? In 2011 the company’s revenue was $45 million. In 2012 revenue jumped to $200 million. The It Works! Global secret? It identified a single, strong mission, put a plan together to execute its objective, and stayed laser-focused.

It set an aggressive goal: Double the company’s revenues in 2012. Its theme was One Team. One Mission. $100 Million. The response was so strong that as One Team, It Works! Global reached its goal in just seven months. Then in the next five months, it doubled its revenues again.

Pentecost says that the biggest challenge was to keep the message simple.

“Anyone can complicate things,” he says. “It takes genius to simplify it. We had one message from the top down, and we worked hard to stay focused. We said no to anything else that came up.”

Debt-Free: The New Sexy

In every conference call, every meeting, every event, and even through their branded T-shirts, they drove the message home.

“We’re going to stay debt-free and sexy,” says Director of Sales Mike Potillo. “That message is unique to who we are as a company. It’s what we practice personally and as a company, and it’s what the field responds to.”

To give becoming debt-free a sexy sizzle, It Works! Global transformed the concept into a G.O.O.D. performance bonus. The G.O.O.D. emphasis: Get Out Of Debt, and it includes bonuses that increase as distributors achieve a higher leadership rank within the company. It Works! encourages distributors to use the bonus, which can be as much as $50,000, to pay off debts. Distributors embraced the debt-free challenge, earning $15 million in G.O.O.D. bonuses last year.


The Bravo Momentum Award was created to recognize a company not previously ranked that has demonstrated not only significant growth, but the most significant first-time ranking on the DSN Global 100.


“People are putting their pictures on Facebook paying off credit cards, student loans, and other debts,” Pentecost reports. “In this economy it’s a message that’s helping people.”

He notes that the message also resonates throughout the distributor force, from millennials who are carrying huge student loans but having trouble finding professional positions that let them repay their debts, to baby boomers who have done what they always were taught they should do: invest in their homes, stocks and bonds. But the slumping economy of the last few years has left them with underwater mortgages, credit-card debts and no money for retirement.

Mark Pentecost (left), Founder and CEO of It Works! Global, accepts the Bravo Momentum Award from DSN Publisher and Editor in Chief John Fleming.Mark Pentecost (left), Founder and CEO of It Works! Global, accepts the Bravo Momentum Award from DSN Publisher and Editor in Chief John Fleming.


“This is the right time for us to say that there’s freedom in being debt-free and there’s freedom in owning your own time,” Pentecost says. “When people are helped to get out of debt, it relieves stress in their lives.”

Potillo adds, “The debt crisis is everywhere, so our message resonates. At a time when whole countries can’t get their debt under control, we just infused $15 million into the U.S. economy for people to pay down personal debt.”

The phrase, “debt-free” has always been a hallmark at It Works!. Pentecost and a group of close colleagues and friends started the company on a shoestring in 2001.

It all began when Pam Sowder, one of the company’s founders and now its Director of Marketing, learned about the Ultimate Body Applicator, now known as the It Works! Wrap, which tightens unwanted skin in less than an hour and then provides progressive results for 72 hours. She called Pentecost to tell him about it. Pentecost was skeptical, but his wife, Cindy, immediately recognized the possibilities. They agreed to go to Mexico to meet with the product’s inventor, Luis Mijares, now the company’s Product Development Specialist.


“At a time when whole countries can’t get their debt under control, we just infused $15 million into the U.S. economy for people to pay down personal debt.”
—Mike Potillo, Director of Sales


They applied their first wrap in their hotel room and waited. Sure enough, Cindy saw results right away. From the hotel, she called her best friend Krista to tell her about the product. Krista’s response: “Don’t come home without one for me!” Then 30 seconds later she called Cindy back and asked for one for her daughter.

Pentecost recognized that they had just witnessed the power of network marketing. So he made another big decision. He would create a network marketing company to sell the wrap.

With his background in both coaching and network marketing, Pentecost knew how to put together a team. He had been a top-10 distributor for a major direct selling company, so when he stopped thinking of the It Works! Wrap as a product and began viewing it as a business opportunity, he naturally thought of direct selling.


“I knew that when I started my company, I wanted it to be in this industry. It’s been life-changing for me, and I want to pass that on.”
—Mark Pentecost, Founder and CEO


“Network marketing had such an impact on my life,” he recalls. “I knew that when I started my company, I wanted it to be in this industry. It’s been life-changing for me, and I want to pass that on.”

With Sowder as his Director of Marketing, Pentecost started slowly, investing his own money in the business, building a strong team, and laying a solid foundation. For a while, the new company didn’t even have a name. But soon customers named it through their reactions to the wrap.

“You can almost count on it,” Pentecost reports. “In the company’s first weeks, we were on the road to another name, but it kept happening. People would put on the product, and 45 minutes later they would say, ‘It works!’ So finally we named the company It Works! because that’s what we kept hearing.”

Little by little, the company grew, slowly at first, then a little faster. Even when the economy weakened, It Works! grew consistently. Pentecost controlled expenses and invested time in building the company’s culture and leaders. And in 2009, at the beginning of one of the toughest economic slumps in recent history, It Works! Global became totally debt-free, establishing one of the company’s core principles.

The Magic of Momentum

 2013 Bravo Momentum Award: It Works! Global2013 Bravo Momentum Award: It Works! Global


Early in the company’s life, they also developed a second core principle—simplicity. They kept their marketing message simple: Give us 45 minutes and you’ll see results. They kept products simple: Every one must be complementary to the It Works! Wrap. They kept training simple: Three Steps to Success. And they kept it all fun. The It Works! Global team likes to say that It Works! isn’t a party plan company, but they love to party.

In fact, Join the Party—throwing a Wrap Party at home or on Facebook to share the instant results of the It Works! Wrap—is the first Step to Success. Just imagine the fun and laughter as friends apply “that crazy wrap thing,” as the company nicknames it, to practically any part of their body they want to tone. Many also try the deep hydration Facial Applicators, botanically infused cloth masks that give a visible lift and soften signs of aging. All that’s left is to wait for the results. During that short 45 minutes, the distributor-host explains the opportunity that is literally stuck to their bodies. The “big sell” comes in just 45 minutes when the wraps come off and people see measurable results. How many people could say no?

Hosts at that Wrap Party are probably wearing something simple: It Works! branded gear—shirts, hats, bags and buttons in It Works! signature colors of black, green and bling. But as colorful as the gear is, it goes beyond simply flashing the company logo. Worn at a Wrap Party or a coffee shop, the gear is a conversation starter that helps distributors build their businesses. The gear displays phrases such as Living the DreamWhole Notha Level, and It Will Change Your Life. To introduce prospects outside their warm markets to It Works!, distributors can use marketing materials such as blitz cards, oversized business cards that invite prospects to try “that crazy wrap thing.” The card includes a $25 discount coupon and the offer to host a party and try the wrap for the best price of all: Free! And with so many millennials among the distributors, It Works! teaches both face-to-face and online marketing techniques.


It Works! Global can boast that new distributors are unusually youthful. Their average age falls into the coveted 25- to 35-year-old demographic.


Sticking to those basics laid the foundation that would keep the company humming when exponential growth kicked in. And did it ever kick in! Inc. magazine ranked It Works! Global on its 500/5000 list this year and reported that the company has produced 543 percent growth over the past three years. It simplified the original It Works! Wrap and added new products that complemented it. Executives made a decision to establish operations in Australia and parts of Europe. Today the company pays commissions to more than 50,000 distributors.

With recruit numbers growing so fast, It Works! Global can also boast that those new distributors are unusually youthful. Their average age falls into the coveted 25- to 35-year-old demographic.

That hockey-stick growth let Pentecost do something else he always wanted to do. He bought a golf course. In early 2011 he moved the It Works! headquarters from Grand Rapids, Mich., to Bradenton, Fla., just a mile from the golf course he now owns. In a nod to its black, green and bling brand colors, the company hosts monthly “Green Carpet Days” to recognize top producers and provide them with information, training, testimonials, and a little social time on the golf course and the nearby beach. It’s a perfect reflection of the Wrap Party fun that helped the distributors grow their businesses so successfully.

Those distributors have a high ratio of customers to distributors, who keep on ordering products and telling their friends about “that crazy wrap thing.” It Works! keeps them coming back by offering special deep-discount pricing to repeat customers, as well as a customer loyalty program. And of course that creates a perfect storm for distributor retention.


The Inc. 500/5000 List reported that It Works! Global has produced 543 percent growth over the past three years.


It Works! has already outgrown the building it moved into in early 2011. With plans to add many more jobs—a boost to the local economy—by 2015, this fall It Works! will move into its new headquarters building in nearby Palmetto, Fla. The remodeled waterfront space will be an architectural demonstration of the magnetic It Works! culture, complete with slides in place of staircases.

“We are going to create an innovative office space that will allow employees, distributors and guests alike to enjoy our youthful and energetic corporate culture,” Pentecost says. “With sunsets over the Manatee River and a marina right next door, we can drive our boats to work and truly live our motto that ‘We’re more Jimmy Buffett than Warren Buffett!’ ”


The next It Works! goal: Double the company again this year.


The next It Works! goal: Double the company again this year. Pentecost has every confidence that they’ll do it. The former math teacher says the numbers are on track.

“Once you have a winning formula, the key is to stay the course,” he emphasizes. “We have a simple system and a product that everybody wants. We have a new goal this year but the same simple system to get there. With our growth and what’s going on in the company, we could do anything. But we can’t do everything. We’re focused on what we do well.”

It Works! Global Breaks Ground on New Headquarters

It Works! Global, home of the It Works! Wrap, broke ground on its new 36,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Palmetto, Fla.

Having outgrown its current office space in less than two years, the purchase of the new building will fulfill the company’s need for space to accommodate its growing corporate team and entertainment needs for their community of more than 50,000 independent distributors.

According to CEO and Founder Mark Pentecost, plans are for the innovative office space to allow employees, distributors and guests alike to enjoy the company’s youthful and energetic corporate culture with a waterfront location that will exemplify its motto that they are “more Jimmy Buffett than Warren Buffett!”

It Works! is projected to open the doors of the new headquarters this fall.

It Works! Global has a debt-free philosophy with a business opportunity based around the It Works! Wrap that tightens, tones and firms any area of your body in as little as 45 minutes.