Helping a pal move is a generous favor most have done at least once in their lives.
But when Josh Jurhill helped best friend Justin Hodge move into his new apartment, it was a task they sought to repeat again. But not for free.
“We thought we could make extra money,” Jurhill recalled.
Ten years later, the Scottsdale natives’ once little side gig is projected to generate just over $5 million this year — a 40 percent growth from 2017, Jurhill said of his and Hodge’s moving company, Muscular Moving Men.
When Jurhill and Hodge started their Phoenix-based business in 2008, they comprised the entire staff and did all moving themselves. They had no office. A family friend let them park their truck at his Cave Creek ranch. While dodging horse droppings to and from their truck, they partnered with stores to get going and did short pick-up and drop-off routes.
“Back then, if we did 20 or 30 moves in a month, we thought it was pretty darn awesome,” Jurhill said.
In that first year, Muscular Moving Men generated $200,000, Jurhill said.
Today, they oversee a growing staff of 80 and are responsible for 20 trucks and trailers that do an average of 400 local and interstate moves every month.
“It’s catchy and funny but at the end of the day, it’s one of the three most serious things people go through in their lives. People are stressed and the last thing they want on moving day are guys that are clowns or not taking care of their possessions.”
Josh Jurhill of Muscular Moving Men
Jurhill and Hodge’s company provides an in-demand service. According to an American Moving and Storage Association study of 3 million interstate moves, 650,000 were done by professional movers, more than moves done by non-professionals renting a large truck or getting friends to caravan multiple trips between homes.
And what about the name of the company? Jurhill, a natural bodybuilder and former Mr. Natural Arizona, and Hodge have been athletic all their lives and took fitness seriously. The name played off of them having “better than average physiques,” Jurhill modestly explained.
“We’d wear black athletic shorts and sleeveless shirts that look professional. It was something to set ourselves apart,” he said.
To ensure his team lives up to the name, the headquarters includes a full gym where employees can work out between moves to maintain their strength.
“Fitness, teamwork and health are things that are a big part of our (company) culture and things we stress to our guys. To reinforce that healthy lifestyle, the gym goes hand in hand,” he said.
All of the trucks are named after athletic figures: Arnold, Conan, Apollo and Zeus, for example.
Jurhill admitted he gets some calls laced with tongue-in-cheek comments, and some expressing a desire to see truly muscular men lifting and maneuvering. But the job is no joke.
“It’s catchy and funny but at the end of the day, it’s one of the three most serious things people go through in their lives,” Jurhill said, referring to death and divorce as the other two. “People are stressed and the last thing they want on moving day are guys that are clowns or not taking care of their possessions.”
Personal calls from senior citizens thanking him for making their move a great experience and his staff making them feel comfortable are among Jurhill’s most striking memories.
Maintaining empathy in realizing how tough moving is, is key, he said.
Giving charities a helping hand
The company’s charitable component is something Jurhill and Hodge have implemented since the beginning.
“That’s what it’s all about, being able to give back,” Jurhill said. “I can’t think of a better cause than a domestic-violence situation where we can step in and make a tough situation a little more manageable.”
Gina Winn, the victims assistance caseworker at Glendale Police Department’s Victims Assistance Unit, can attest to this.
Nearly two years ago, Winn had a domestic-violence victim who didn’t have the funds to move to a new and safe residence. Winn called at least seven moving companies for assistance with no luck. Then she called Hodge, who did not hesitate to step in.
Ever since, Muscular Moving Men has regularly moved her department’s high-risk domestic-violence victims for free. Generally, there is a three-hour timeline and safety measures are put in place. They’ve accommodated every special request and wrap every possession carefully and treat it as their own, Winn said.
And every time, the job is done professionally, efficiently and with respect.
“They’ve always been compassionate and understanding. They understand it’s a quick move and sometimes there’s no time (for the victims) to pack all of their belongings,” Winn said. “It’s difficult to find those resources when the funds aren’t there … And we can’t give enough thanks to them. They’ve always been wonderful to us.”
Warehouse supervisor Sean Medley moves a storage box in the warehouse Aug. 7, 2018, at Muscular Moving Men in Phoenix.
(Photo: Mark Henle/The Republic)
‘There is no limit’
Jurhill and Hodge were both 8 when they met at the Boys and Girls Club Osborn Branch Scottsdale. The branch is no longer there — the Scottsdale Stadium sits in its former spot — but their friendship remained. They ran in the same athletic circles, went to high school together and remained best friends through their college years. Now 34, their birthdays are within nine days of each other.
Hodge worked part-time for a moving company while earning his journalism degree from Arizona State University. Jurhill also worked for the same company, and quit after a month.
But when they got together to brainstorm their business model, the idea of being his own boss and the having the opportunity to grow as far as their dedication and dreams would allow was much more appealing. Being business partners added to the attraction.
They took the plunge and bought their first truck.
“We maxed out the credit card and put all our chips down and into the moving industry,” Jurhill said.
Hodge left his paint and body repair job. Jurhill left his comfortable, salary-steady job as an insurance adjuster.
Word of mouth generated new business then and now. Jurhill estimates about 40 percent of each month’s moves are generated by previous customers.
The goal is to generate $40 million a year with 60 nationwide locations by 2027, said Jurhill, speaking by phone from Detroit, where they opened a second location this summer in the suburb of Troy.
“We’re just never satisfied. It’s about getting back to where we were in the beginning. We were competitive then and we’re competitive now. There is no limit. The only limits are the ones we put on ourselves,” he said.
Muscular Moving Men
WHERE: 2950 E. Mohawk Lane, Phoenix
INTERESTING STAT: Roughly, 35.5 million Americans move each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
MORE INFORMATION: 602-923-6400, muscularmovingmen.com