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VIProfile: Art Clancy




Story By Gay Lyons | Photography By Britt Cole

If you’ve never met Art Clancy, owner of Clancy Custom Woodworking, chances are you’ve seen his work.

“We did the Surgery Center at Fort Sanders and the Pigeon Forge Convention Center,” he said. “We did the Lenoir City Convention Center and Utilities Board. We did all the displays at Clancy Optical [owned by brother Steve Clancy] and the bar and tables at Clancy’s Tavern [owned by brother Danny Clancy]. We worked in the Phoenix Lofts and Gallery Lofts and did the cabinetry in The Daniel. We did the Tennesseean Hotel and Regas Square. We did the bar at Hyatt Place and bar rail at the Oliver Royale.”

A recent project was the woodwork at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in West Knoxville.

“[The cathedral] was a nerve-wracking experience,” said Clancy, “but we pulled it off on time and on budget. My challenge was to keep things moving and working around the marble flooring people from Italy. I like when you’re on deadline and everyone works together. The cathedral was like that the whole time.”

Clancy, a Knoxville native who planned to be an opthalmologist, met his wife Stephanie when he was working as an orderly at St. Mary’s Hospital while she was in nursing school there. Marriage and children changed Clancy’s career path.

“I started working construction to support my family,” he said. His love of trim and woodworking led to the formation of Architectural Millwork Specialists in 1994 and Clancy Custom Woodworking in 2009.

“I started with six guys from the previous business,” he said. “Five are still there. Now we have 28 full time employees and nine subcontractors. We do 50-50 residential and commercial. We do everything from design to finish and install. Some jobs are fun; some aren’t. We’ve been very, very fortunate.”

“The people who work for me are a lot smarter than I am,” he continued. “I think that’s the secret: Hire good people and don’t get in their way. If I say to my guys, ‘I don’t think this can be done,’ they’ll kill themselves doing it. It’s so much fun figuring things out.”

Clancy’s work doesn’t stop when he goes home.

“In 1982 we paid $42,000 for a 3,000 square foot house the neighborhood was going to buy and tear down,” he said, “and we’ve been working on it ever since. My wife asked, ‘Why does everyone else get a nice kitchen?’ so for Christmas I gave her a new kitchen. On Christmas Eve we were screwing in the last door.”

His next project is a fun one.

“I’m starting on a tree house for my grandchildren,” he said. “It’s going to have a zip line and a fireman’s pole.”

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