After celebrating a major milestone, It Works! looks to the future.
Last year, It Works! celebrated 20 years of business—or as Founder and Chairman of the Board, Mark Pentecost prefers to think of it, two decades of helping people achieve their dreams.
Founded | 2001
Headquarters | Palmetto, Florida
Founders | Mark & Cindy Pentecost
Products | Beauty, Nutrition, Personal Care
It’s human nature to define accomplishment as sales or revenue. Yet how I would define success looking back over the past 20 years is how many lives we’ve changed.—Mark Pentecost / Founder & Chairman of the Board
Mark and his wife, Cindy, attribute their success to being others-focused, having founded It Works! as a vehicle to change lives. Throughout the tenure of their leadership, this philosophy has served them well. From bootstrapping the company in its early days to owning a private island, the Pentecosts have embodied the American Dream through their experience with It Works!.
Now, after 21 years of business, the company and product line continue to evolve, but the foundation of It Works! remains the same. “I’m so proud of what we’ve built over the last 20 years, but what I’m most proud of is how many lives we’ve been able to impact in the process,” said Chief Field Officer, Kami Pentecost. “I get goosebumps when I think about how many more families will get to achieve their dreams over the next 20 years with the opportunity we’ve created.”
Although It Works! was founded as a means to change lives, originally, the Pentecosts were the ones who needed a change. In the 1990s, Mark taught high school math and coached basketball while Cindy stayed home with the kids and ran a daycare. As a growing family living on limited income, they sought to earn an extra $500 a month to make ends meet. Direct sales provided the answer.
Mark and Cindy joined a popular network marketing company and quickly achieved success—earning the highest rank possible. But the opportunity didn’t last. “We were fortunate enough to be Top Ten in a very successful company,” explained Mark. “But they didn’t keep up with the products, and it went away. We said if we ever do this again, we are going to own the company. We want control of our destiny.”
Through their industry connections, a unique product eventually crossed their path. In 2001, armed with their famous Skinny Wrap, a body contouring wrap, and the intent of serving others, the Pentecosts launched their own family business: It Works!. But even with an effective product, the company experienced a rocky start.
“People see where we are today—the office, the energy—and they don’t realize there was a time when our CFO asked how long he should allow me to keep putting money into It Works!,” Mark remembered. “But it’s hard to beat someone who never gives up.”
His tenacity paid off. Before long, the supply of Wraps couldn’t meet the demand. Mark chuckled, “We called it The Great Wrap Shortage. In business, there are always going to be ups and downs. The first 20 years wasn’t always smooth sailing. We hit obstacles, but we found a way with a great team to figure out how to get through it together and to find the ‘win’.”
In the years since, It Works! has expanded into four distinct product categories that provide a holistic approach to well-being—from energy and nutrition, to beauty and weight management. And through founding the It Works! Gives Back Foundation in 2014, the Pentecosts helped generate a tidal wave of philanthropic change that continues to swell. Last year, the It Works! Gives Back Foundation united with the Pentecost Foundation pledged $1 million to charity in commemoration of the company’s 20th anniversary.
“It’s human nature to define accomplishment as sales or revenue,” Mark observed. “Yet how I would define success looking back over the past 20 years is how many lives we’ve changed. Each team member is a life, a family. We have many multi-generational businesses within It Works!. Others have moved on but come back years later to say they were able to use our core values and principles of debt freedom to live better lives. To me, that’s success.”
Building on the Dream
Between their family-focused company culture and first-to-market product offerings, the Pentecosts laid a solid groundwork for It Works! from the beginning—a foundation on which they’ve been steadily building ever since. Looking to their next 20 years, the It Works! team is focused on growing more strategically than ever, particularly in a post-pandemic market threatened by recession.
Ever the optimist, Mark and his team only viewed these challenges as learning opportunities. “The pandemic forced people to evaluate who they work for, when they work and how they work,” he said. “In a person-to-person industry, the pandemic made us realize we needed to improve our training and onboarding virtually. It was tough, but it made us stronger. We already knew the importance of a mobile-first approach. The pandemic simply made us speed up those timelines.”
The It Works! corporate team continues to embrace a digital approach to direct sales while promoting human connection. Developing innovative ways for the field to work their business from their phones remains a top priority, including the introduction of a new platform, Impact Professionals, which gives their leaders a place to learn and grow.
“We equip them with tools to grow anywhere, anytime. We empower our team for social selling and influencing, because our teams are getting younger and connection happens differently now,” Mark explained. “Impact Professionals is an example of how we combine training, education from some of the finest minds in today’s world and a place for influencers to share great ideas. Change is hard, but it’s so important to evolve. The days of your grandma’s in-home living room party are over. But the fundamentals of It Works! are the same: we treat people well, and we show appreciation and recognition. It’s just a different delivery—through a mobile app or a social channel. Sometimes it’s a hybrid approach, but connection is constant.”
For example, the corporate team initially planned for the 2022 It Works! Conference to remain entirely virtual. As time progressed, they realized the importance of getting leaders together in person and quickly pivoted. After the main Conference ran virtually, the team took the event on the road across seven states, meeting with thousands of team members in person—as well as over 10,000 virtually.
“What we’ve done in the last few years is set ourselves up to be ahead of the trends, with products, branding, and marketing tools, to be ready for what’s next,” Kindsey Pentecost, Chief Marketing Officer, shared. “We have a dynamic team that is able to move quickly in all of our markets, here and abroad.”
Intentional and International
In the early days of It Works!, resources were at a minimum and hiring competitively was difficult. As the business quickly scaled, constant product development, field training, market launches and events were the collective priorities. But Mark says one thing he’s learned from the last 21 years is the importance of slowing down enough to be intentional.
“We’re now focused on building a ‘Power Team’ in every department,” he explained. “We have exceptional talent that has grown with us, and we have amazing talent that we’re bringing in. We are looking for our Corporate Team to represent our Field Team demographically. We’re thoughtfully putting together departments that are the best of the best in our industry. Our goal is to change even more lives.”
The “Power Team” hiring strategy excites Mark, who believes it will help the company continue to scale with unparalleled quality, particularly as growth continues internationally. With products in multiple recession-proof categories, International President David Vanderveen agreed. “It Works! has laid a remarkable foundation for growth internationally. Navigating the pandemic gave us tremendous opportunities to improve service levels for social selling and remote training while finding new ways to work. I’m incredibly excited about what we are doing and the potential for quantum leaps that we are starting to experience in international markets.”
Committed to Winning
Learning from the past and evolving with the present has helped position It Works! for a bright future—but Mark of all people knows it won’t always be easy. “When you achieve some success in life, people say, ‘You’re so lucky.’ But ‘lucky’ is grit. ‘Lucky’ is heart. You have to keep pushing through the tough times to reach the other side.”
For the Pentecosts, the direct sales industry provided the platform for success that they needed all those years ago. “I’m really proud of this industry,” Mark shared. “It still gives opportunity to people no matter their background, education or demographic. There isn’t a ceiling. That’s what it did for my family; we are products of this industry. We needed a vehicle that would work for us if we worked hard. To pay that forward has been a blessing, because that’s why we built It Works!—to help others.”
And after more than two decades in business, It Works! is only getting started. “The world has changed, and we have felt it in every space, including our channel,” said Chief Sales Officer Meredith Tieszen. “It Works! focused the last 20 years on our culture, field leaders and providing a great opportunity. We are prepared for the next 20 years and beyond.”
Always dreaming big dreams for the future, Mark agreed. “We entered 2022 with a new kind of energy and momentum, both at home in the United States and in our international markets. We learned a lot through the pandemic about how to improve our tools. We’re building our Power Team. These opportunities are only making It Works! stronger. Together, we’re more committed to winning than ever before!”
From the May 2022 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.