After almost three decades of building their family-run business Black Gold Motel in Wallerawang, the Cluffs and their hard-working staff received recognition at the prestigious Business NSW awards.
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The business, which was the site of the former Wallerawang Public School and purchased by Robert and Linda Cluff in 1996 won the Excellence in Large Business Award.
The Cluff family attended a black-tie event to accept the award on Thursday, November 9- which was a huge moment for the family according to General Manager, Brad Cluff.
"I've never worn a bowtie. I don't think any of us have had to go to a black tie event before. So that was nice," Mr Cluff said.
"To be on stage with Jessica Rowe and the Premier and to be presented by the Premier was all a bit out of our comfort zone, to be honest, but it was nice to be served, because we're usually serving."
This is the first time Black Gold Motel have won an award of this level, with the family entering as a challenge for the business, according to Mr Cluff.
"It's a good business planning exercise to enter something like that, because it really just defines your business goals and how you achieve them," Mr Cluff said.
Mr Cluff said winning the award is still sinking in for the family and their staff.
"It still is and it was very surreal," Mr Cluff said.
The roots of the Cluff family are deeply embedded in the site, with generations of the family attending the school that their business now occupies.
" In 1995, I was school captain in year six. My grandmother went to the school, my father went to the school," Mr Cluff said.
"The school moved over to Barton road, and the old school was up for sale. My parents bought it in 96."
"I think everyone thought they were a little crazy."
According to Mr Cluff, the initial idea for the site was to create a school camp, but the model was unsustainable as a business- So the family re-directed towards the tourism and contractor markets.
"Every, two or three years, we built some more motel rooms," Mr Cluff said.
"We've gone from some old classrooms, and quite a dilapidated old abandoned school to about 71 rooms now."
"It's been a journey."
The family built the Hotel's restaurant 'The Crib room' in 2011, which is popular among locals, contractors and tourists alike.
"That's [the restaurant] now got a life of its own. My father always says it's a beast, and we need to feed it now," Mr Cluff said.
The business also expanded its conference facilities, which also had a humble beginning.
"We started running that out of our far room in our restaurant, and now we have a dedicated room for that," Mr Cluff said.
"We really have three different businesses within the property, three different income streams and it's busy."
According to Mr Cluff, the business is fully built now but the focus will remain on building the conference element up in the future.
"The conference market brings about diversification of our revenue. So I think that's that's probably where we're going to head," Mr Cluff said.
Mr Cluff said he is grateful for the support of the local community and staff past and present that have made the business what it is today.
"Our staff create an experience for someone who walks onto our property with a really high bar," Mr Cluff said.
" What needs to be recognised above everything else is the efforts of our staff."
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