April 01, 2017
The Best Places to Work in Direct Selling 2017 Honorees
by Andrea Tortora
Table of Contents
Step inside the Bradenton, Florida headquarters of It Works! and you can feel the genuine and heartfelt passion employees have about being one team with one mission.
“We embody that,” said Pamela Mercado, Vice President of Marketing. “We have each other’s backs. We are one family, so we will pull up our sleeves and get to work and help each other out.”
CEO Mark Pentecost does his best to make it easy for every employee to go the extra mile. The waterfront corporate building takes things to a Whole ‘Notha Level—literally.
A rooftop sanctuary includes waterfalls, putting greens, a fire pit and wet bar and plenty of room for meetings, socializing and celebrations, not to mention the view.
“We built the building so that what we say on the outside matches who we are on the inside,” Pentecost said.
Fun takes center stage in the design. A slide replaces the elevators between the third and second floor. And every day at 3 p.m., a high five session gets people up and moving and celebrating the day’s good work together. “We don’t want people to be in their seats, in their own silos,” Pentecost said.
The building also features wrap-around exterior decks designed for outdoor meetings and a bistro on every floor, complete with coffee, drinks and small tables to encourage employees to get together.
“We are not stuffy,” Mercado said. In fact, every office has a glass wall to help build and strengthen the team feeling.
Many employees cite their coworkers as the thing they enjoy most about coming to work every day. Charlie Lersch, Director of HR, said that while the response “sounds like the easy thing to say, it is the truth. We are a merit-driven company, and we want people we know will be right there next to us in those foxhole moments, working with us and punching through.”
To celebrate the wins that come from such a dedicated workforce, management strives to create a fun and rewarding environment. Frequent team-building outings include bowling or cookouts.
All-company events may be checking out a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game from the stadium’s party deck or a day at the Pentecost ranch to experience another side of Florida, “seeing the Spanish moss and being on a swamp buggy,” Pentecost said.
At the golf course Pentecost owns, management members get privileges and employees have frequent opportunities to improve their game, including free Saturday lessons for those who’ve never golfed before.
Meetings also might take place on a boat or on the island Pentecost and his wife, Cindy, purchased as another option to entertain and reward staff in a stress-free setting.
At the heart of these outings is Pentecost’s desire to know his employees and thank them for their work. He makes sure every employee feels they are a part of it all, especially as employment jumped from 30 to 180.
“When a company is growing fast and hiring a lot, sometimes you lose that culture,” Pentecost said. “So I made sure HR knew that I did not want to walk out of my office and say, ‘Who are these people?’ I wanted to know them.”
When he’s visiting with Presenters in the field, Pentecost spends time entertaining and inspiring them, and he makes sure he doesn’t lose sight of that inside the walls of his office, either.
“We try to really make sure the office is not just between the walls here at the corporate headquarters,” Pentecost said. “We want to make sure we conduct business everywhere. That builds up the tank of feeling that we care and knowing that we can all laugh and have fun.”
The perks, the unified culture, and the fact that Pentecost is always stretching to see what else he can offer to employees, builds tremendous loyalty, Mercado said.
“Employees work harder and achieve more, even managers,” Mercado said. She shared a Maya Angelou quote that describes the It Works! atmosphere: “I do my best because I am counting on you counting on me.”
The leadership team takes such sentiments to heart, Lersch said, noting that Pentecost puts no limits on them. “He has given us no restrictions on being creative, innovative and trying things. It’s OK to fail,” Lersch said.
It Works! employees are not just committed to the business. They also are dedicated to giving back. Those activities such as school supply drives or street cleanups round out the work experience and make it even more fulfilling.
“Working here has changed so many people’s lives, thanks to the giving heart that Mark and Cindy have,” Lersch said. “We really want to be intentional about pouring that into our people and making this a wonderful place.”