She Likes to Move It, Move It
Enterprising Woman Tara Kirchenmann balances logistics, shipping and life
Tara Kirschenmann has an impressive resume. She has a degree in health and human biology from Western Oregon University. She’s among the top performers of 600 salespeople in a nationwide company, Worldwide Express, and she’s also the founder and CEO of a local moving company, Montana Muscle Movers.
If there was such a thing, she’d also have a degree in time management.
“I do like structure,” she says, smiling. “It makes my life so much easier.”
Tara’s a goal setter, and years ago she set a goal for herself to not have to depend on anyone but herself. An “Army brat,” her family moved multiple times, including several years in Germany, during her formative years. She and her younger siblings grew up as latchkey kids, and even with both parents working, it was tough to make ends meet. She left home as soon as she graduated from high school and headed off to college.
Tara worked her way through college, and after receiving her degree began a career as a clinical research coordinator and phlebotomist working in physician laboratories. But the vivacious young woman soon realized that she needed more interaction with people and “a window in her office.”
“It’s hard when you realize that the degree that you worked for isn’t what you want to do,” she says.
She kept at it, until the laboratory she was working for underwent some downsizing and she was left looking for a new job.
“I was given a generous severance package,” Tara says. “And it would have supported me for quite some time, but I was bored after about two weeks of not working.”
That’s when she was recruited for a position with the franchise Worldwide Express. Hired as an account manager, it wasn’t long before the owner of the franchise said she’d need to work in sales.
“It wasn’t what I wanted,” Tara laughs. “In fact, it terrified me.”
Still, she knew she had to work to support herself, and as fate would have it, she was good at it. Worldwide Express is a shipping service that is a carrier network handling package and freight shipments for businesses. They are the largest non-retail authorized reseller of UPS in the nation. As a salesperson, Tara began her career cold-calling, trying to get companies to use their services.
“Basically, I would stop at a company that I thought might do shipping and visit with them about how their company handles their shipping needs,” she says.
Her simple philosophy of looking for ways to improve or optimize their practices more often than not landed her a new client. But it wasn’t easy. A move from Oregon to Boise, and then from Idaho Falls to Billings, had her covering new territory with a lot of miles and hours in between clients.
“I would be away from home from Sunday night to Friday night,” she says. “And then start it all over. But I knew that’s what I needed to do to establish a secure foundation.”
Amazingly, as much time as she spent away from home, she met and married her husband, Thomas.
“I only wanted to be in Billings for six months at the most,” she says. “But that all changed when I met Thomas. We’re here for the long haul!”
Several years ago, the individual franchises of Worldwide Express were bought out by a corporation and Tara stayed with the company. She’s now one of the company’s top performers in the nation. In fact, she’s in a strong position to be named a top performer for 2023.
“I made it a goal for myself this year,” she says. “It’s been a very busy year for me. If I win, we’ll use that money toward a skid-steer for our moving company.”
Montana Muscle Movers, the moving company Tara and Thomas own, was born out of need.
“Thomas and I were stood up by movers on our moving day,” Tara says. “It left us in a tough spot, but it also showed us that there was a need for a reliable moving company in town.”
Besides starting the successful company, they added snow removal as another facet to the business.
“We bought trucks and trailers for the moving business,” she says. “So, we decided to outfit them with snowplows to keep our business going and to keep our guys employed in the winter.”
In six short years, the company, of which she is the majority owner, has annual revenue in the seven figures. Tara and Thomas are generous with their success. They have made it a priority to give back to the community whenever they can.
“We’re committed to giving a percentage of our profits back in some way,” Tara says. “We vote as a company how we will do it.”
Recipients of Montana Movers have included local teachers who compiled wish lists for their classrooms; Landon’s Legacy, a special needs baseball field; and students who owed money on their lunch accounts in classrooms across Billings.
“We are always blessed when we give,” Tara says. “Anytime I’ve ever been on the fence about giving in some way, maybe thinking it isn’t a good time, I’ve been shown that it definitely is the right time, and a blessing has followed the giving.”
The company also offered up its services to the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office to move domestic violence victims for free. They’ve helped residents being displaced from their homes.
“We try to be good stewards of what we’ve been given,” Tara says. “It’s also a good example to our employees and our kids.”
Between her generosity, owning one business and working for another, Tara’s days are full. She has cell phones for each company and both phones are often pinging with notifications at the same time. Her home office has six computer monitors to help her stay on top of each business.
Her days start early and often last into the night. She functions on about five hours of sleep, but she’s continually looking for opportunities and ways to improve all three businesses. Her roles also include being the mother of two young children, Zoe, 7, and Tripp, 3.
As busy as she is, she says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m an extreme person,” Tara says. “Definitely Type A, but it works for me. I have an amazing partner in my husband, and we balance each other out.”
In the early days of their marriage, Thomas worked at the Stillwater Mine and Tara was traveling with the shipping business during the week. After their first child was born, they decided that their schedules weren’t conducive to a healthy marriage or family. The moving business was a perfect fit for them. Thomas is available during the day for the family, taking the kids to school and picking them up in the afternoon. During his free hours, he manages the moving and snow removal business.
In the last several years, Zoom meetings and phone apps have enabled Tara to have a home office where she holds meetings, handles social media, and tracks employees and customers. In between calls, she stays on top of the household chores.
“I wear a lot of hats,” Tara says with a laugh. “My desk is situated so that three of the walls behind me have the three company logos (Worldwide Express, Montana Muscle Movers and Montana Muscle Movers Snow Division) so that when I am in a Zoom meeting, the right logo is being shown.”
Tara does have boundaries. She clocks off at 4:30 p.m. to focus on family. It’s a priority for her to have a home-cooked meal prepared every night, and she typically has it ready when Thomas and the children walk in the door. She enjoys reading and playing with her children and both she and Thomas put the kids to bed. Her phones stay silent during those hours, and any administrative task that can be done outside of selling hours, she does after the kids are asleep.
“It’s all about balance and managing your time and setting realistic goals,” Tara says. “And taking time to enjoy what you have.”