If you are sitting at the Pinetta Market trying to interview Clint Roberts, the first thing you learn is that everyone (and I mean everyone) knows him. The second thing you learn is that he’s a hometown boy with the gift of gab. The man loves to share his story. He is the kind of person you can sit down with for five minutes and feel like you’ve known him for most of your life. He’s down to earth and one of the most interesting and intelligent people you will ever meet hands down. You will also learn that his story is just beginning.
Life on the River
Clint Roberts is a native of Madison County, Florida. He grew up along the river where hunting and fishing weren’t just a simple pastime, they were a way of life. There’s not much about the outdoors that Clint doesn’t know. Little did he know when he was growing up just how important those rivers would be to his livelihood.
Clint started his first job in a local sawmill at the age of 14. He learned quickly and before too long could do almost every job at the mill. After graduating high school, he turned his sights toward college. That’s where things get interesting. “I started out in sawmills when I was 14 but I went to college to be an attorney. I didn’t like that, so I went to be a teacher. No money there, so I decided to go for an MBA,” said Clint. “I moved to Denver and right after I get there I get a job offer to manage a sawmill back in Florida”. Once he heard the offer, it didn’t take him long to around head back home.
The job offer came from George Goodwin who basically started the concept of heart pine flooring. Clint said, “I worked for him from ’03 to ’08. By ’04, I was running the whole show.” Clint’s previous experience and his ability to learn on the run made it easy for him to excel at whatever he put his mind to. He said, “I watched them scale out a load of logs and watched them give the guy a $30,000 check.” It didn’t take him long to realize he was on the wrong end of the deal.
You Have to Go Where the Money Is
Clint learned fairly quick that if he wanted to go where the real money was, he needed to learn to dive. He said, “I grew up on the river. It can’t be that difficult.” He began to apprentice under another underwater logger. When that didn’t turn out like he expected, he decided to go the extra step and take scuba diving lessons. He showed up at Southern Ocean Sports and began to take classes under Dave Stone. Dave asked everybody in the class why they wanted to learn how to dive. While most of the students wanted to “see pretty fish” or just explore underwater, Clint’s response was unique. He said, “I wanna go logging!” After class, Dave pulled Clint aside and said, “I’ve wanted to hunt treasure my whole life.” And with that statement, the Dreadknots began to take form.
Enter the Kraken
Also known as the Kraken, Dave Stone is a hulk of a man with no fear whatsoever and a sense of humor that never stops. It took Clint a little time to get things set in motion, but when he was ready to start logging on his own, he called Dave and told him they were ready to hit the river. With Clint’s unique ability to build almost any type of boat or apparatus they needed, it didn’t take long before the team were pulling logs on a daily basis. “We pulled more logs than anyone else. We pulled 20 a day. That was our day.” While some loggers would immediately spend their earnings, Clint and Dave put the money back into the business buying better equipment and building better, more adaptable boats that could be used on any type of water.
Creating the Dreadknots
Once they had stockpiled enough logs, they decided to build their own sawmill. With Clint’s past experience, it wasn’t difficult. He knew every aspect of the business and before long they were making flooring and cutting out the middle man. When the History Channel began the Ax Men series, they came looking for the best river loggers they could find. For five seasons, the state of Florida and all of the other loggers in the area recommended Clint and Dave to the producers, and for five seasons, Clint and Dave turned them down. Finally, with season six, the show came back and made the team an offer they couldn’t refuse. The Dreadknots had made the big time.
With Clint being the “jack of all trades and Dave, the consummate showman, the team became popular with the viewers. You never knew what they were going to do and they always made it a point to have fun while they were working. After a few seasons on the Ax Men, the left the show and set about creating their own reality show. Clint for one didn’t really like the “reality” aspect of the show and wanted to create one that was actually truthful in terms of how they did their job and what life on the river was really like. He wanted a show that portrayed the Dreadknots for who and what they really are: The best river loggers, period.
Just Making a Living
Clint was adamant that the show be a true representation of the Dreadknots. He stayed true to himself and his dream so the Dreadknots would retain ownership of the story line. They had five serious offers before the crew finally agreed on the one that best suited their view and the image they wanted to create. With that final offer, Underwater Empire was born. The show can currently be found streaming on Amazon.
The long days and hard work have paid off. Although he doesn’t necessarily like the term “celebrity”, it does seem to fit now and again. Every once in a while he has to remind his daughters that they aren’t “celebrity rich” and that daddy still has to go to work every day. With that being said, life is good for