Cleaning up . . . CrestClean Dunedin owners Dan Pariachi and Madhu Mala, outside their home in St Kilda, show off their award for the best franchisee in the business services category at the New Zealand Franchise Awards. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

After test-driving a “grunty” floor polisher for the first time and leaving glistening surfaces in his wake, Dunedin man Dan Pariachi knew expanding his wife’s cleaning franchise was the way to scrub the family’s debt.

CrestClean Dunedin owners Mr Pariachi and Madhu Mala won the business services category of the New Zealand Franchise Awards in Auckland on November 11.

Mrs Mala said when their names were announced, it left them “speechless”.

“To have our names called out – wow,” she said.

They bought the CrestClean franchise in Dunedin nearly three years ago and had “grown it massively”, she said.

The business success came as a result of a spur-of-the-moment decision to move to Dunedin.

The pair moved to Auckland from Lautoka, Fiji, in 2008 with a suitcase and $200 in a bid “for a better life”.

The couple married in Auckland the same year and the first of their two boys, Ryan (8), was born in 2009.

Mr Pariachi was working as a cabinetmaker in Warkworth, north of Auckland, but was struggling with the cost of living and the family began to spiral into debt.

“We had a tough run,” Mrs Mala said.

When Mr Pariachi took his car to get its windscreen replaced in Auckland, he began a friendship with the business’ owner, which led to a job offer as branch manager at Stieger Glass in Dunedin in 2013.

“We had never heard of Dunedin – no clue – but we accepted the offer,” Mr Pariachi said.

In Dunedin and in debt, Mrs Mala looked for work she could do while raising her two preschool boys.

She bought a CrestClean franchise with seven “small” contracts, allowing her to work at night.

When Stieger Glass closed its Dunedin branch in 2015, Mr Pariachi decided to expand the cleaning franchise with his wife.

He asked the CrestClean directors for as many contracts as possible.

He had told them to “bring it on”, Mr Pariachi said.

The couple now employed another five full-time staff and had 28 contracts, mostly large, which were a mix of schools, restaurants, shops, supermarkets and a medical centre.

Mrs Mala said the business had “room for growth”.

“We are not going to stop here,” she said.

The couple have bought their first home – a four-bedroom villa in St Kilda.

“It’s something we never thought we’d be able to do,” Mrs Mala said.

Mr Pariachi now teaches cleaning methods to the owners of the nearly 50 franchises in Dunedin, including how to control a high-speed floor polisher.