Burt of Burt's Bees: Co-Founder Kicked Me Out

Burt Shavitz stars in new documentary Burt's Buzz

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jun 5, 2014 10:13 AM CDT

(Newser) – Conventional wisdom suggests the Burt behind Burt's Bees left the company after he became disillusioned with the corporate world in North Carolina and wanted to return to his solitary life in Maine. The reality, Burt Shavitz says, is that he was forced out by co-founder Roxanne Quimby after he had an affair with an employee. "In the long run, I got the land, and land is everything," the reclusive beekeeper, now the subject of a documentary, Burt's Buzz, told a filmmaker, sounding both bitter and ambivalent. "What I have in this situation is no regret," he said. "The bottom line is she's got her world and I've got mine, and we let it go at that."

Shavitz, 79, was a hippie making a living by selling honey when his life was altered by a chance encounter with a hitchhiking Quimby. She began making products from his beeswax, and they became partners. The partnership ended on a sour note after the business moved in 1994 to North Carolina, where it continued to expand before Shavitz was given the boot. "Roxanne Quimby wanted money and power, and I was just a pillar on the way to that success," he said. Quimby disagrees, but Shavitz noted "I had no desire to be an upward-mobile-rising yuppie with a trophy wife, a trophy house, a trophy car. I wasn't looking for any of those things. I already had what I wanted." Then he jokes, "No one has ever accused me of being ambitious."

This photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, shows a wrapper from a package of Burt's Bees soap features an image of Burt Shavitz, the Burt behind Burt's Bees. Shavitz still lives in rural Maine after leaving the company that was later sold for millions by his former business partner,...
This photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, shows a wrapper from a package of Burt's Bees soap features an image of Burt Shavitz, the Burt behind Burt's Bees. Shavitz still lives in rural Maine after leaving...   (Robert F. Bukaty)
In this photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, Burt Shavitz poses on his property in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, the Burt behind Burt's Bees, still lives in rural Maine after leaving the company that was later sold for millions by his former business partner, Roxanne Quimby. He said he has...
In this photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, Burt Shavitz poses on his property in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, the Burt behind Burt's Bees, still lives in rural Maine after leaving the company that was later...   (Robert F. Bukaty)
This photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, shows a personal license plate displayed in Burt Shavitz's camp in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz is the former beekeeper and one-time part owner of Burt's Bees. He still lives in rural Maine after leaving the company that was later sold for millions by...
This photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, shows a personal license plate displayed in Burt Shavitz's camp in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz is the former beekeeper and one-time part owner of Burt's Bees. He...   (Robert F. Bukaty)
In this photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, Burt Shavitz rests inside his camp on his property in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, a former beekeeper, is the Burt behind Burt's Bees. The reclusive beekeeper whose simple life became complicated by his status as a corporate icon is now the subject...
In this photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, Burt Shavitz rests inside his camp on his property in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, a former beekeeper, is the Burt behind Burt's Bees. The reclusive beekeeper...   (Robert F. Bukaty)
In this photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, red fox kits play on Burt Shavitz's property in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, the Burt behind Burt's Bees, still lives in rural Maine after leaving the company that was later sold for millions by his former business partner, Roxanne Quimby. He said...
In this photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, red fox kits play on Burt Shavitz's property in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, the Burt behind Burt's Bees, still lives in rural Maine after leaving the company...   (Robert F. Bukaty)
This photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, shows a chalkboard with a quote inside Burt Shavitz's camp poses in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, the Burt behind Burt's Bees, still lives in rural Maine after leaving the company that was later sold for millions by his former business partner, Roxanne Quimby....
This photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, shows a chalkboard with a quote inside Burt Shavitz's camp poses in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, the Burt behind Burt's Bees, still lives in rural Maine after leaving...   (Robert F. Bukaty)
In this photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, Burt Shavitz speaks with visitors at his camp in Parkman, Maine.  Shavitz, a former beekeeper, is the Burt behind Burt's Bees. The reclusive beekeeper whose simple life became complicated by his status as a corporate icon is now the subject of...
In this photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, Burt Shavitz speaks with visitors at his camp in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, a former beekeeper, is the Burt behind Burt's Bees. The reclusive beekeeper whose...   (Robert F. Bukaty)
In this photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, Burt Shavitz pauses during an interview to watch a litter of fox kits play near his camp in Parkman, Maine.  Shavitz, a former beekeeper, is the Burt behind Burt's Bees. The reclusive beekeeper whose simple life became complicated by his status...
In this photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, Burt Shavitz pauses during an interview to watch a litter of fox kits play near his camp in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, a former beekeeper, is the Burt behind...   (Robert F. Bukaty)
In this photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, Burt Shavitz stands on his property in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, the Burt behind Burt's Bees, still lives in rural Maine after leaving the company that was later sold for millions by his former business partner, Roxanne Quimby.
In this photo taken on Friday, May 23, 2014, Burt Shavitz stands on his property in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, the Burt behind Burt's Bees, still lives in rural Maine after leaving the company that was...   (Robert F. Bukaty)
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