Burt's Bees co-founder Burt Shavitz has now revealed why he left the company: According to an Associated Press (AP) report published on June 4, 2014, Shavitz says in the documentary film "Burt's Buzz" that he was ousted from company in 1993 by co-founder Roxanne Quimby because he had an affair with an employee. (The employee's name was not mentioned in the article.) "Burt's Buzz" opens in select U.S. theaters on June 6, 2014, the same day that it premieres on video on demand.
As a severance package for leaving Burt's Bees, beekeeper Shavitz (who is 79) reportedly received 37 acres in Maine and an undisclosed sum of money, according to the AP. In 1984, he and Quimby co-founded Burt's Bees, which started off specializing in honey products and now specializes in personal care products. Quimby bought out Shavitz's shares of the company in 1993.
In 2004, AEA Investors (a private company) acquired 80 percent of Burt's Bees for $173 million, with Quimby maintaining 20 percent of the company and a seat on the board of directors. In 2007, the Clorox Company purchased all of Burt's Bees for a reported $925 million. Many of Burt's Bees products still have an illustration of Shavitz's head as part of the packaging.
Shavitz says in the "Burt's Buzz" documentary: "In the long run, I got the land, and land is everything. Land is positively everything. And money is nothing really worth squabbling about. This is what puts people six feet under. You know, I don't need it ... Roxanne Quimby wanted money and power, and I was just a pillar on the way to that success."
In an emailed statement to AP, Quimby responded: "Everyone associated with the company was treated fairly, and in some cases very generously, upon the sale of the company and my departure as CEO. And that, of course, includes Burt."
In a USA Today interview, "Burt's Buzz" director Jody Shapiro commented on his goals for the movie: "The main thing I really wanted to explore was the difference between the Burt you see on the product and the Burt you don't see. I thought it was going to be a black-and-white story ... but it's a very gray area. He cares about the product but also cares about alone time and being sort of secluded from that side of it. Also, I really wanted to make this Burt's story and not Burt's Bees' story."
Shavitz, who is an eccentric recluse, described to USA Today what his perfect day is: "The phone doesn't ring. I don't get any visitors. The dogs run themselves crazy. The wind in the trees."