Winning the 2014 "Emerging Business of the Year title" at the prestigious Westpac Waikato Business Excellence Awards function in Hamilton on Friday night was the icing on the cake for Hamilton's Argent Motor Lodge.
The award was announced at the gala dinner in front of a sell-out audience which came together to celebrate business excellence in the Waikato region. In addition to winning the Emerging Business of the Year, Argent Motor Lodge was also named as finalists in the Hospitality Business of the Year and for the Health and Well-Being Award.
"It was our goal when we first started the business two and a half years ago to enter and be a finalist for a business award," Clare says.
"The fact that we made the finals for three award categories at the Westpac Waikato Business Excellence Awards and managed to win one of these was beyond our wildest expectations," she says.
"We owe a great deal of thanks to our wonderful and loyal staff, supporters and of course our guests who have been on this journey with us and receiving this award is just as much about them," Clare said.
"We would also like to acknowledge the other two finalists for the Emerging Business of the Year category - Forgotten World Adventures and Ice Interiors, as they can also be very proud of their achievements."
Hamilton-based business advisor Malcolm Jensen of Advantage Business, who assisted with the Argent Motor Lodge awards submission, said:
"It was refreshing to work with such enthusiastic and forward looking business owners - ultimately there is no substitute for enthusiasm," Jensen said.
"I was struck by their total commitment to a simple but powerful and caring proposition. It is enlightening to see such young and relatively inexperienced business owners open to working with others to achieve their objectives."
In a stellar year of achievement Argent Motor Lodge has also been named the AA Traveller Supreme Host of the Year for New Zealand 2014 and received a 2014 Certificate of Excellence and the 2014 Travellers Choice Award for excellence in customer service as awarded by Tripadvisor. Qualmark has also rated Argent Motor Lodge as 4 Star Plus.
Richard says Argent Motor Lodge was an opportunity that presented itself to them and they decided to give it a go. As a result, they now boast a motel that has never once been empty - a feat very impressive for what is still a relatively new motel.
Both Richard and Clare believe their open and inviting attitude, coupled with their exceedingly high standards, is what has given Argent Motor Lodge the glowing reputation it has today.
"'Ok' is simply not good enough, 'average' is not acceptable," says Clare. "It has to be outstanding or it's not the Argent way."
Argent Motor Lodge is the closest motel to the Waikato Hospital and is located only 350m from Braemar Hospital. It possesses a quiet serenity and personalised atmosphere that has their guests leaving with nothing but praise.
Clare and Richard's motto is for guests to "arrive as strangers and leave as friends" - a motto that sees them go above and beyond to make their guests feel at home.
"We want people to feel special when they stay here and feel like they belong," Clare says.
For a couple from small rural towns, Clare and Richard have done well - they started from scratch and have definitely achieved something to be proud of. Don't go thinking they're going to start taking it easy though - they have big plans for Argent Motor Lodge.
"We want to resonate with excellence, says Clare. "We want to be to be first choice and we want to be the place you recommend to your loved ones."
So for anyone with friends or family coming to stay, or those who simply want a weekend away - the door to Clare and Richard Gallagher's Argent Motor Lodge is always open.
Argent Motor Lodge is located only minutes away from the CBD, Waikato Hospital and Hamilton Lake and possesses a quiet serenity and personalised atmosphere that has its guests leaving with nothing but praise.