HGTV’s Clint Robertson Builds an Empire
The Boise Boy and jack-of-all-trades is no stranger to TV or starting from scratch.
Wearing battered cowboy boots, a plaid dad shirt from a closet full of them and a grin of effortless wit, Clint Robertson ’92 became half of HGTV’s latest power duo with the hit series Boise Boys.
Their role is expanding. In June, Outgrown With the Boise Boys will premiere, solving square-footage problems for families needing more space.
A formidable work ethic alongside a varied professional background helped Robertson succeed in real estate. But as a CPA, licensed attorney, mediator, contractor, broker, developer and mentor, Robertson, who graduated at the top of his accounting class, defies pigeonholing.
“Clint’s career path is not exactly what I would have expected, but he was always very driven and ambitious,” said professor emeritus Robert Vigeland, a former chair of TCU’s accounting department.
“He stood out from the beginning,” he said. “It’s amazing the things he’s done with his life.”
Robertson’s roots run deep in Fort Worth. His grandfather was a barber in the River Oaks area. His mother and father, a standout pitcher who played for the University of Texas at Austin, moved to Fort Worth when he was 3.
The couple’s firstborn son excelled at nearly everything he pursued. A natural athlete and gifted singer, Robertson became the Castleberry High School valedictorian and received a full academic scholarship to TCU.
“There’s something about TCU and something about Fort Worth in general,” Robertson said. “Even though I’m grown and gone, the TCU area still says home.”
“There’s something about TCU and something about Fort Worth in general. Even though I’m grown and gone, the TCU area still says home.”
He entered college as a future physician only to begin feeling antsy about a potential 12 years of training. But he had developed a bug for business from working alongside his CPA father, helping out with the Dairy Queens and other fast-food restaurants that Joe Robertson bought to fix and flip.
The younger Robertson’s business aspirations became cemented around the time he met Sandy Hill in a TCU tax accounting class.
“He swept me off my feet, and my whole plan changed,” said Sandy Robertson, recalling that her husband of 29 years popped the question outside Sadler Hall as they lay on the lawn stargazing.
The Big Picture
The couple wed in 1992, not long after he accepted a plum gig at Ernst & Young, but marriage proved far more satisfying than his work life.
“I learned really quickly through one tax season that me and that cubicle were headed for a rocky divorce,” Robertson said. “I’m not a minutia person and not a small picture person.”
In 1993, he enrolled in Southern Methodist University’s law school, which at the time focused on business law. Even as a first-year student, he thought beyond a legal career, dreaming of all the businesses he planned to create, he said.
In his last year of law school, he and his wife frequently traveled between Dallas and Wichita Falls, Texas, where his father had moved his business base. After a badly botched surgery, the elder Robertson was having a tough time overseeing his Dairy Queens.
Robertson graduated, and the young couple, by then parents of Jake and Eli with Daniel on the way, returned to Fort Worth. There he worked for the law firm Jackson Walker, and Sandy Robertson continued to help her father-in-law by processing his payroll.
Trouble and Tragedy
But something was off with the gregarious, successful entrepreneur, a larger-than-life man whom Robertson considered his best friend. He had “shrunk down to skin and bones,” Robertson said, as his health troubles overwhelmed him.
One day in 1999, Joe Robertson took his own life.
“I lost my safety net, my compass. I lost everything,” Robertson said. “Daddy was my god with a little ‘g.’ ”
Robertson said he felt the shock, hurt and tragedy of his father’s death. On top of that, with his first full look at his dad’s books, he saw the dire financial shape of the businesses.
At this low point of his life, Robertson also discovered his teetotaler Baptist father had become addicted to prescription pain medicine during his long post-surgery hospital stay.
Robertson sold every asset he and his wife owned and poured the money into his father’s failing restaurants to save them. It wasn’t enough.
At 29, he found himself with no money and a family to care for, his widowed mother now included.
“I always thought I could control everything until I lost my dad,” he recalled. “That’s when I realized I’ve got a father who is bigger than my earthly father.”
In 2000, while he was mired in grief, a family connection offered him a job with American Country Countdown, a popular radio show relocating from Hollywood to nearby Weatherford, Texas. Robertson managed the program’s business for seven years while also making his foray into the booming local real estate market.
He set up a title office outside Weatherford, hired a couple of closers and capitalized on investors from California, New York and Florida who were buying multifamily properties in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Business thrived until 2008, when Robertson said he had an epiphany that he was not spending enough time with his sons. He divested himself of real estate just months before the market tanked. He also realized that he “was never cut from the cloth to be someone constantly riding a desk or practicing law.”
The boys were 12, 10 and 8 when the family moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, drawn by the mountains. The couple planned to take a yearlong sabbatical from paid work while continuing to home-school the kids. Robertson volunteered as an addiction minister, working one-on-one with men struggling with drugs and alcohol.
Donald Trump interrupted all that. A day after seeing a call for contestants on NBC’s The Apprentice, Robertson hopped on a plane to Las Vegas and stood in line overnight to interview for the reality show. A month later, he was on his way to New York City to film Season 10.
For more than two months, Robertson worked from 4 a.m. to midnight. He won the final task but narrowly missed capturing the show’s coveted top prize. “Apparently their excuse was I said ‘y’all’ too much,” Robertson quipped.
Back in Idaho, he purchased a pawnshop and turned it into a regional powerhouse for buying gold and also hung out a shingle to practice law. When Jake received a full scholarship to Boise State University, the family bought a condo in the state’s capital city.
Robertson’s business opportunity sonar began to ping.
Flipping for Boise
Boise, Robertson said, was “in the perfect Goldilocks zone,” with cheap housing that could be flipped for a substantial profit.
Not long after this revelation, he met Luke Caldwell, who had begun renovating homes and was saving some of the earnings to adopt another child from overseas. When Caldwell, a Christian musician, was off touring, Robertson pitched in on his projects. On their first joint project, they made a six-figure profit.
Their design-build firm, Timber and Love, was born.
Soon thereafter, a production company pitched the unlikely duo to HGTV, which dubbed them the Boise Boys. Their Odd Couple vibe won over the network and viewers alike.
“I’m your Texas boot-wearing, rough and ready construction guy, and Luke is the skinny jean, man-purse designer,” Robertson said.
“What’s amazing about Clint is that he’s got a very big personality that’s fun and engaging. But unlike a lot of people who have big personalities, he can back it all up because he’s really knowledgeable,” said Grant Julian, who produced the second season of Boise Boys.
Robertson and Caldwell spend upward of five months renovating homes from top to bottom. Robertson handles the construction, while Caldwell focuses on the design; both deal with the business side, with Robertson bringing his CPA and legal experience to the fore. It’s the first time in his career that Robertson has had a partner.
In last season’s Boise Boys, the pair renovated 13 houses in roughly 10 months, Caldwell said.
“We have been classified as the dads of HGTV, and I, for one, love that,” said Caldwell, a father of eight, five of them adopted. “My family is my greatest treasure, and knowing that the person standing next to you feels the same way is important.”
Sandy Robertson and the three boys — two in medical school and the youngest planning to join them after he graduates from Boise State — often appear on the show.
“What you see on camera is the real Clint. He treats people extremely well.”
Grant Julian, producer
Clint Robertson, who started learning about construction as a teen helping out at his father’s Dairy Queens, seems in his element while strategizing about home improvements and finding innovative ways to control costs.
“He’s never surprised by anything, always seeing the problems coming,” Julian said. “And what you see on camera is the real Clint. He treats people extremely well.”
Heart for Home
The Robertsons’ latest venture — Heart for Home Properties, based in Wichita Falls — aims to expand homeownership opportunities. The couple splits time between Idaho and Texas while renovating low-cost housing in the Lone Star State.
They plan to pay the mortgage on the rehabbed houses for two years until would-be homeowners qualify for bank financing. Along the way, the Robertsons said, they want to mentor buyers in everything from personal finance to parenting, a passion project rooted in love of home and family.
“Clint’s vision is always to help people,” Sandy Robertson said. “He’s a very successful entrepreneur, but he’s one with a giant heart.”