Doblo reveals the 'real story'
DOMINIC Doblo has opened his heart to talk about the lowest point of his life as his bid to be the region's mayor enters the final stages.
Mr Doblo has made no attempt to hide his past, but says it's the right time to explain the circumstances of the collapse of his business which once had a turnover of $20 million and employed 130 staff.
He said questions about his ability to manage a council budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, and anonymous comments on websites, motivated his decision to speak out.
"I have to put an end to these ridiculous stories and gossip circulating about town, so we can get back to putting our focus on who should lead our region for the next four years," he said.
"Very few people know the real story behind Les Doblos going into liquidation in 2004, and with a young family now, it is something I don't usually talk about publicly."
He said his family had lived and worked in the region for more than 70 years and had been a huge supporter of local charities, events and organisations.
"I lost everything trying to take on Woolworths and give local people the service they deserved," he said.
"Unfortunately, once you are marked by these multi-national companies for termination, you are finished, no matter how good you think you are."
Woolworths and Coles now control 80% of the market and Mr Doblo says they are still attacking small operators to further increase their market share.
"I had been manager of Les Doblos for 20 years and in 2003 we were turning over $20 million a year. Lakes Creek meatworks had just closed, the AMC project had collapsed.
"This had us wobbly, but then Woolworths' infamous predatory pricing, coupled with 10 cents a litre fuel discount, suddenly introduced to Rockhampton, put us on the canvas so fast our heads were spinning."
He said he did not blame customers for taking their business to Woolworths and realises he made mistakes.
"On the up-side, I have never forgotten those valuable lessons I learned back then as a local lad taking on the big boys."
Les Doblos was eventually liquidated, the courts declared Mr Doblo bankrupt and the company's debts were finalised.
"It was a very humbling experience and caused me to do a lot of soul searching at the time. Bankruptcy is no picnic, trust me."
He said he emerged a much wiser man and had since built up a successful landscaping business.
"I was always taught that it is better to have tried and failed than to sit on your backside whingeing about everything.
"That's why I am running for mayor because, make no mistake, this region is in crisis and strong leadership is needed to guide us out.
"I bring to the table a wealth of life experience, good and bad.
"There are no skeletons in my closet. What you see is what you get. Can the other candidates categorically state that?"
He said he had received a ringing endorsement of his character from Kerry Daly, the former managing director of The Rock.
"He thinks I am fiscally responsible and the clear choice for mayor. I must be doing something right. I put to my fellow candidates - now it is your turn: put up or shut up."