A few years ago, three friends from Boulder started a shoe company called Crocs, created a worldwide fashion phenomenon, and made millions of dollars for themselves. Then the trouble began.
On May 26, 2006, at 3:15 in the afternoon, George Boedecker phoned his former brother-in-law, an attorney named David Moorhead.
"Do you have any idea how much money I have?" Boedecker asked, according to Moorhead's statement to Boulder police. "I'm going to bury you so deep that no one will ever find you." Boedecker, drunk and slurring his words, called again 30 seconds later. "I'm going to slit your motherfucking throat, you stupid shit."
Twenty-five minutes after the first call, Boedecker, with a friend named John Fish, showed up at Moorhead's Boulder office building. The two headed to the eighth floor and stormed past Moorhead's 105-pound secretary.
Boedecker made a gesture indicating he wanted to fight Moorhead. "I'm going to kick your ass," Boedecker screamed, "and I brought a witness!"
Before any punches were thrown, Boedecker left the building. Police arrested him the next day. When a Boulder police officer asked Moorhead the reason for the altercation, Moorhead said, "He's just psychotic." But Moorhead went on to give an intriguing additional explanation for his former brother-in-law's explosion: "Boedecker recently got removed from the board of directors from the shoe company 'CROCS,'" Moorhead said, according to the Boulder police report. "This removal was not voluntary, and Boedecker has been very angry." (Interestingly, the report on the incident has been expunged from the Boulder police files; however, its contents are contained in an application for a restraining order later filed by Moorhead in Boulder court.)
Since he and his two buddies founded Crocs, Boedecker's personal foibles have turned him from the man Seamans affectionately calls "The Rainmaker" to persona non grata in the office and a punchline around Boulder. Today, most tales about Boedecker center not on his business acumen or myriad philanthropic efforts, but on his alcohol-fueled arguments, empty threats, and near-brawls.
In 2004, while still Crocs' CEO, Boedecker got into a midday argument with a former family chauffeur. Boedecker claimed the man had tried to blackmail Boedecker, threatening to tell his wife that he was "sleeping with other women," according to a Boulder police report. Boedecker allegedly responded by calling the former employee, who is African-American, a "nigger" and a "monkey." He told police that the man was carrying a gun, but no weapon was found, and neither Boedecker nor his former employee filed charges.
Boedecker had also threatened Moorhead in two separate incidents—one of which took place at the Boulder Country Club. Boedecker was "thrown out" of the club, according to an application for a restraining order filed by Moorhead in a Boulder court.
While the most tawdry details of those confrontations didn't make it into local media reports, Boedecker's increasingly erratic behavior had become an inside joke at the company. "Let's put it this way," says one former Crocs employee. "You don't want to mention the name 'Boedecker' in the office. It's a bad word now at Crocs."
Never mind that Crocs wouldn't exist if it weren't for George Boedecker. The child of a broken family, Boedecker's personal tale is a local legend. He started a lawn-mowing business at age 10 and employed two brothers. He was a solid student-athlete at Boulder's Fairview High School, and he earned a basketball scholarship to Eastern Montana College. Eventually, he transferred to the University of Colorado.
A decade later, Boedecker owned more than 100 Domino's Pizza franchises in the United States. By 1996, he had become an executive at Quiznos. During Boedecker's tenure at the sandwich chain, the number of sub shops increased 3,600 percent in North America. "People don't get the whole picture on George because he's unconventional," says Brenda Lyle, the senior public relations consultant at Boedecker's Anthony H. Kruse Foundation, who befriended Boedecker eight years ago when he mentored her son. "George is a person who marches to his own drummer, who has a deep passion for people."
Part of the reason no one in the media has been able to create a complete portrait of Boedecker is his reticence to talk to the press. Even Crocs preferred that I not speak with him. At one point while I was researching this story, a Crocs spokesperson contacted me and said, "You know Mr. Boedecker is no longer with the company, right?" After several days of trying to reach Boedecker, I finally found his e-mail address. His response to my interview request, pecked out on his BlackBerry, was quick: "Robert. I am [in] India having fun and researching poverty and clean water solutions. I will be in L.A. on the 21st [of March] and would love to talk about that. GBB."