EXCLUSIVE: Family's devastation at business closure
IT'S every business owner's worst nightmare, but sadly for the Spees, it's become an unwelcome reality.
After 16 years of blood, sweat and tears, Bob, Yvonne and Grant Spees were notified via a six-line letter that Liberty Oil Australia was terminating their lease.
Mr Spees said there was "no explanation" and calls to Liberty Oil Australia to find out why had gone unanswered.
"It's gut-wrenching that someone can just take a whole business," he said.
It's obvious the weight of the world is resting on the passionate fisherman's shoulders, as he bravely navigates his new reality.
Bob's son Grant Spees said his head was "all over the place".
"To tell you the truth, the only time I've ever felt like this was when my best mate died," he said.
Last Friday, Liberty Oil Australia began works at the site, without any prior notice given to the Spees, or surrounding residents and businesses.
Liberty Oil Australia state manager Russell Reeves said the company was investing in the site, with more products and pumps to be added.
"We will be increasing the size of our storage to ensure we can supply to the demands of the market at competitive prices," he said.
Mr Reeves added the new site would include extra storage as well as "exciting new food offers", with the works expected to last between four and six weeks.
The local staff were looking forward to changes and opening, he said.
Bob Spees said the fumes from the site had been making him and his wife sick, and Grant's partner, nurse Kayzer Gross, confirmed the family had been suffering from sore throats, irritated eyes and upset stomachs.
It's the aforementioned works at the site that have been particularly surreal for Mr Spees and his family, and the smell radiating from the works caused them to close up early on Wednesday.
A Whitsunday Regional Council spokesperson said the council had received one complaint in relation to the fumes at the site. The spokesperson said the council had inspected and found no compliance issues with regard to the level of fumes.
Even the stormiest of clouds have a silver lining, and in this instance it has been the support of the community that has rallied behind the family.
The shelves and walls are almost bare, and although Bob has no idea what lies in store for the future, he says he "can't sit at home and do nothing".
"Watch this space," he said.