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Making it in Big Sky: Knaub & Company

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Marjorie Knaub and her team at Knaub & Company: Norla Grimm (with her dog), Samantha Honatke, Marjorie Knaub and Jessica Trulen. PHOTO COURTESY OF KAUB AND COMPANY

By Mira Brody CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGIST

BIG SKY – If there’s anyone who has seen the Big Sky community grow, it’s the Knaub family. JC arrived the year construction started at Big Sky Resort and he and his wife, Marjorie, built their life and business around the people of the area, raising children Jeff and Kristi and managing Knaub & Company and their team of tax and bookkeeping experts.

Explore Big Sky sat down with Marjorie to talk a little bit about the history of their business, their family’s deep roots, and introduce us to each of their team members: Samantha Honatke, Jessica Trulen and Norla Grimm.

This series is part of a paid partnership with the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. The following answers have been edited for brevity.

Explore Big Sky: I’d like to start with a little background information on you, what’s your family’s history in the Big Sky area?

Marjorie Knaub: I married JC Knaub in Big Sky in 1980 after a six-year courtship. JC came to Big Sky in 1973 when they were first building the resort. We bought 4 acres along the South Fork of the West Fork of the Gallatin River in 1980 and built our home in 1983. We raised two children (Jeff and Kristi) who were ski racers involved in Big Sky Ski Education Foundation. [Kristi] now owns Maverick Mountain Ski Area with her husband, as well as Elkhorn Hot Springs, and is a K-8 teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Polaris, MT.  Jeff works in the family construction business (Andesite Construction) in Big Sky and was married in 2020. They are building a house near Hebgen Lake, since Big Sky is not an affordable place to live.

Samantha and her husband, Mike were long-time Big Sky residents, but moved to the Four Corners area in 2014 in order to buy a house. They have a 5-year-old son. Jessica has lived in Big Sky since 2002. She is raising twin boys with her husband, Jeff, who works in the residential construction industry. Norla is a long-time resident of Big Sky and also operates her own bookkeeping practice.

EBS: Tell me about the history of Knaub & Company; when did it start? How has it grown over the years?

MK: I graduated from Montana State University in 1978 and worked for a national accounting firm in Billings before moving to Bozeman in 1981 to work for a local CPA firm. After 13 years with that company, I decided to strike out on my own with another partner to form Knaub & Company in 1994. After commuting from Big Sky to Bozeman for over 20 years, I moved the office to Big Sky in December of 2005.

EBS: How big is your team?

MK: I employ Samantha Honatke and Jessica Trulen fulltime, and Norla Grimm works part-time. We have had numerous staff over the years work part-time during tax season. Our success is due to our loyal employees. Samantha and Norla have been with the firm since 2011 and Jessica started in 2015. I plan to retire in 2026, at which time Samantha will take over ownership of the firm. We are a family and dog-friendly company. Family comes first, and dogs are welcome in the office.

EBS: Tell me about the different services offered at Knaub & Company.

MK: Knaub & Company specializes in individual and small business income tax planning and preparation. We offer bookkeeping and payroll services, as well as QuickBooks training and support. We also do bookkeeping and consultation with Homeowners’ Associations.

EBS: Your family has been here for quite some time, what are some changes you’ve seen over the years—but also, what are some things that never change.

MK: We have seen a lot of change over the years. There was no high school when our kids were in school, so they had to be bussed to Bozeman. There are a lot of positive changes in terms of services—we now have a hospital, dental and vision services, grocery stores, a movie theater and numerous restaurants to choose from. The negative side has been the traffic. We have to plan our driving around the peak traffic times.

EBS: What is the best part of working in the Big Sky area?

MK: Big Sky is a gorgeous place to live. Our two dogs are in heaven being free to roam on our 4 acres. The outdoor activity options are amazing.

EBS: What is the best business advice you have ever received?

Treat your clients with respect. Return phone calls promptly and answer emails timely.

EBS: Is there anything else that you want to tell the Big Sky Community?

MK: We appreciate all of our loyal clients and enjoy working with local businesses and individuals. The dynamics have changed somewhat due to COVID, but we have adapted along with everyone else.

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