EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2014 Florida Awards


Retail and Consumer Products

Award Recipient

fla_eoy_ToddChristopherTodd C. Christopher
founder and CEO
Vogue International, LLC

Growing up in a family of hair-care specialists, Todd C. Christopher set out to make his mark in the industry using his entrepreneurial spirit and knack for identifying new trends in the marketplace.
While working at his uncle’s hair salon, Christopher began to consider selling his own line of salon-quality hair products to drugstores. He founded Vogue International, LLC in 1987 when he invented hair treatment capsules under the Pro-Vitamin brand, which he and his wife sold out of their car.
Vogue International has grown to become one of the largest privately owned hair care and beauty companies in the U.S., with its OGX brand consistently ranking as one of the top 10-premium hair care brands.
A significant factor in the success of the new products developed by Vogue International is the packaging and presentation. Christopher, the company’s CEO, realized early on the importance of packaging to a product’s success — Vogue products tend to come in bottles with a unique size and shape compared to competitive products, and have a pleasant fragrance and use specific wording that appeals to consumers.
By closely following emerging trends in hair styling and technology, Christopher creates and follows every product from the idea phase to product launch. Every year he brings fresh concepts to his team, many of which become new, successful products for Vogue.
In the late 1990s, Christopher identified a new consumer trend in teen hairstyling and developed the FX brand, which featured hairstyling products designed and marketed to teens. The FX line took off immediately and, by the mid-2000s, became Vogue’s biggest seller.
A reflection of Christopher’s leadership, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving at Vogue International. The team is made up of people with a can-do attitude, and employees feel like a key part of the company. 


fla_eoy_MarkPentecostMark B. Pentecost
president and CEO
It Works!

In 2001, Mark B. Pentecost, former teacher and successful network marketer, risked his life’s savings to start his own network marketing company. Armed with two partners, the support of his wife, a single product and the idea that he could change people’s lives with a sound business opportunity, he built a company that now serves 18 countries.
The mainstay product of It Works! is a body contouring wrap that still leads the company’s offerings that now includes skin care, vitamins, dietary supplements and FITworks, a structured weight-loss program.
In the beginning, trusted friends were recruited to the management team, and most are still with the company. To supplement the fledgling company, Pentecost remodeled and sold houses while his team worked without steady salaries and held other jobs. Pentecost, president and CEO, attributes the company’s success to his team, lauding the group as loyal, energetic, optimistic, innovative, determined, visionary, intelligent, creative and motivated. Perhaps as testimony, when the decision was made in 2010 to move the company from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Bradenton, Florida, everyone relocated.
Fiscal responsibility is a core operating tenet for Pentecost, a practice ingrained in the team and the company. Despite rapid growth, a regimen of controlled expenses, the discipline to not spend beyond its means and the commitment to invest in building a strong culture with skilled leaders enabled the company to become debt-free in 2008.
Pentecost says the most significant challenges include customer service, warehousing and IT. More than 99 percent of the company’s sales flow through its website. His team’s perseverance allows the company to drive significant growth. 


fla_eoy_BrianWheelerBrian Wheeler
founder and owner
Tijuana Flats

Brian Wheeler, founder and owner of Tijuana Flats, firmly believes in leading by example, with a clear goal of always treating everyone — employees and customers — with the utmost respect.
The original business plan for Tijuana Flats was an idea Wheeler developed in a marketing class while attending the University of Central Florida. He opened his first Tijuana Flats location in Winter Park, Florida, in 1995. Less than 20 years later, thanks to his tireless effort to always do the right thing, he now oversees more than 100 locations.
The Tex-Mex style restaurant, known for its unique murals and hot sauces — some of the hottest sauces in the world — is more than just a brand to Wheeler. Guests receive the same exceptional service and high-quality food in each of the restaurant’s locations. Because each restaurant is visually different, featuring a themed, unique, hand-painted mural, patrons don’t get the sense that they’re in a chain environment.
The key to Tijuana Flat’s prosperity, in addition to the consistency at every restaurant, is the tone Wheeler sets from the top. He defines success as seeing the people he works with at Tijuana Flats continue to grow and succeed in new roles. Wheeler has built a great executive-level management team, with many years of experience in the industry. Many members of Tijuana’s management team have been with the company since day one, advancing from entry-level positions to executive roles.
Not content with the success of Tijuana Flats, Wheeler opened a new restaurant concept in 2011 in honor of his Uncle Tibby, a Hurricane Katrina survivor. Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen is not simply about what you see, but how it makes you feel — expressing personality and character through food, music, art, fun and heritage with the vibe of New Orleans. Wheeler plans to expand Tibby’s to locations outside of Florida.