Burt's Bees

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Burt's Bees
Founded Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, U.S. (1984 (1984))[1]
Headquarters Durham, North Carolina[3], U.S.
Area served
  • US
  • UK
  • Ireland
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan[2]
Key people
Nick Vlahos (Vice President, General Manager)[4]
Products Natural personal care products
Revenue US$250 million (2006)[2]
Number of employees
420 (2005)[5]
Parent Clorox[2]
Website burtsbees.com

Burt's Bees is an American personal care products subsidiary of Clorox that describes itself as an "Earth friendly, Natural Personal Care Company"[6] making products for personal care, health, beauty, and personal hygiene. As of 2007, they manufactured over 197 products for facial and body skin care, lip care, hair care, baby care, men's grooming, and outdoor remedies[2] distributed in nearly 30,000 retail outlets including grocery stores and drug store chains across the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, and Taiwan from their headquarters in Durham, North Carolina.[2][7]

Burt's Bees manufactures their products with natural ingredients[8] using minimal processing such as distillation/condensation, extraction/steamed distillation/pressure cooking, and hydrolysis to maintain the purity of those ingredients.[9] In addition, every product has a "natural bar" which gives a percentage of natural ingredients in that product, often with detailed ingredient descriptions.[10]

Originating in Maine in the 1980s, the business began when co-founder Roxanne Quimby started making candles from Burt Shavitz's leftover beeswax.[11] This eventually led to their bottling and selling of honey, a practice that slowly diminished as the company evolved as a corporation. Eventually, other products using honey and beeswax, including edible spreads and furniture polish, were sold, before moving into the personal care line.[citation needed] In late 2007, Clorox purchased Burt's Bees for $925 Million USD.[12]


1984–89: Founding[edit]

Burt's Bees Hand Salve, Sep 2012

Burt's Bees originated in Maine in 1984 as a candle making partnership between Roxanne Quimby and Burt Shavitz. Shavitz had a honey business which provided the excess beeswax needed for the candles and Quimby's focus on maintaining high quality helped to grow their business from an initial $200 at the Dover-Foxcroft Junior High School craft fair to $20,000 by the end of their first year. Their first headquarters was an abandoned one-room schoolhouse rented from a friend for $150 a year.[13]

Burt's Bees increased production in 1989 after a New York boutique, Zona, ordered hundreds of their beeswax candles. Forty additional employees were hired and an abandoned bowling alley became their new manufacturing location. During this time, Quimby read one of Burt Shavitz's 19th-century books about bee-keeping which included home-made personal care recipes and Burt's Bees entered into the personal care products industry.[13]

1990s: Incorporation and diversification[edit]

Burt's Bees became incorporated in 1991 and had a product offering including candles, natural soaps, perfumes, and eventually lip balm, which became their best-selling product.[2]

In 1993, Quimby threatened to sue Shavitz over personal issues and essentially forced Shavitz out of the company's operations. Increasing demand and product offerings necessitated a move from Maine headquarters to North Carolina where other personal care product manufacturers were also situated. Burt's Bees changed its focus to exclusively personal care products.[2]

In 1995, the company moved its manufacturing operations into an 18,000-square-foot (1,700 m2) former garment factory in Creedmoor, North Carolina. Although Burt's Bees continued to focus on the "home-made" product theme, automated machines, such as a former cafeteria mixer from Duke University, were introduced to increase production, . Chapel Hill was the site of the first Burt's Bees retail store, which offered 50 natural personal care products. Distribution and demand of products had also reached the Japanese market.[2]

In 1998, Burt's Bees was offering over 100 natural personal care products in 4,000 locations with sales in excess of $8 million. Distribution had reached higher-end national retailers, including Whole Foods Market and Cracker Barrel. New product offerings branched into travel-sized skin care and hair care products.[2] In 1999, with increasing demand and an increase product offerings, including sugar and milk-based body lotions and bath products, Burt's Bees relocated to Durham among the many other enterprises located in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. An eCommerce website was launched allowing distribution in a much larger, nationwide scale.[2]

In 1999, Quimby bought out Shavitz's 1/3 stake in the company in exchange for a house in Maine, worth approximately $130,000.[14]

2000-06: New products and AEA[edit]

Burt's Bees Products, Sep 2012
See also: AEA Investors

In 2002 and 2003 Burt's Bees launched its first toothpaste, first shampoo, and successful Baby Bee product line of infant personal care products. The co-founder, Roxanne Quimby, also used company-earned profits to preserve 185,000 acres (750 km2) of forest land in Maine, marking the beginning of a relationship with The Nature Conservancy, an international organization engaged in environmental protection and conservation.[2]

In 2004 private equity firm, AEA Investors, purchased 80% of Burt's Bees for $173,000,000 US, with co-founder, Roxanne Quimby, retaining a 20% share and a seat on the board.[15] Upon seeking compensation from Quimby after the deal, Shavitz was paid $4 million.[14] In 2005 Douglas Haensel, a former GE executive, became Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Michael Indursky, a former Garnier and Unilever executive, joined Burt's Bees in July to head Burt's Bees marketing and public relations group.[16] In 2006, John Replogle, a former general manager of Unilever's skin care division, became the Chief Executive Officer and President, effective from January 19, 2006.[17]

2007–present: Clorox acquisition[edit]

See also: Clorox Company

As of 2007, they manufactured over 197 products for facial and body skin care, lip care, hair care, baby care, men's grooming, and outdoor remedies[2] distributed in nearly 30,000 retail outlets including grocery stores and drug store chains across the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, and Taiwan from their headquarters in Durham, North Carolina.[2] In late 2007, the Clorox Company acquired Burt's Bees for a reported sum of $925,000,000 USD.[12] The company subsequently released a statement to their customers.[18]

Replogle left Burt's Bees to become CEO and President of Seventh Generation Inc. in February 2011.[19] In 2011 Nick Vlahos, a 15-year veteran of The Clorox Company was named Vice President and General Manager of Burt's Bees, effective April 2011.[4]

By February 2014, the Clorox Company had increased "advertising and sales promotion spending for Burt’s Bees, particularly for its lip care lines." At the time, "Burt’s Bees sales [were] outpacing volume due to price increases." [20] In August 2014, a documentary detailing the story between the two co-founders was released.[21] Co-founder Shavitz died in July 2015 at the age of 80, and was buried in Bangor, Maine. In his final years, he had lived on a 37-acre plot of land in Parkman, Maine.[22]


  1. ^ "Burt's Bees". Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Our History – Burt's Bees". Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  3. ^ "Company FAQs - Burt's Bees". Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  4. ^ a b "Clorox names Vlahos as Burt's Bees boss". April 6, 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Jones, Amanda (2005-02-10). "Burt's Bees leases more space, plans to add 50 jobs". Triangle Business Journal (American City Business Journals, Inc). Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  6. ^ "Our Mission and Vision - Burt's Bees". Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  7. ^ "Our Products". Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  8. ^ "Natural Ingredients vs. Non-Natural Ingredients". Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  9. ^ "Natural Processes vs. Non-Natural Processes". Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  10. ^ "Setting the Natural Standard – Burt's Bees". Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  11. ^ "Our History". Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  12. ^ a b Farrell, Andrew. Clorox To Buy Burt's Bees from Forbes website. (October 21, 2007)
  13. ^ a b "The Burt's Bees Story". Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  14. ^ a b Story, Louise (6 January 2008). "Can Burt’s Bees Turn Clorox Green?". New York Times. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  15. ^ Singer, Natasha (2007-05-16). "It's Not Just Honey". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  16. ^ "Mike Indursky – Chief Marketing and Strategic Officer". Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  17. ^ "Burt's Bees Names John Replogle as CEO and President". Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  18. ^ A Letter to Our Loyal Customers[dead link] at the Burt's Bees official website, archived 17 December 2007 at archive.org.
  19. ^ "Seventh Generation Names John Replogle to Serve as CEO and President". February 9, 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  20. ^ Ohnesorge, Lauren (February 4, 2014). "Clorox still banking on Burt's Bees". BizJournal. Retrieved 2015-01-18. 
  21. ^ Feloni, Richard (August 29, 2014). "A New Documentary Reveals The Crazy Drama Between The Founders Of Burt's Bees". Business Insider. Retrieved 2015-01-18. 
  22. ^ "Burt Shavitz from Burt's Bees Buried in Bangor". The Associated Press. July 14, 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 

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