In this brief biographical sketch, respected Barbadian historian Trevor Marshall and senior journalist Neville Clarke have come together to chronicle the life experiences of one of Barbados’ leading small business icons, Gray Doc Brome.
Gray Doc Brome, popularly known as Pizza Man Doc, began his journey into the unfamiliar world of business over 30 years ago from the kitchen of his humble Ashton Hall, St Peter home as an itinerant trader catering to the needs of that northerly parish and the students of the Coleridge & Parry School.
Both authors believe Brome’s life experiences and those of other leading members in public life –– for example, political personalities, educators, theologians and entertainers –– should be recorded so that future generations may learn from any missteps made and equally capitalize on the positive positions they may have taken during their careers.
In this biography entitled Finding My Independence, the authors show how Brome rose from obscurity and the crippling effects of poverty and deprivation to become one of Barbados’ top restaurateurs with a chain of outlets scattered across the island. Marshall and Clarke show that on the death of his father and his eldest brother who had migrated to what he felt at the time was “greener pastures”, Brome assumed the leadership of the household, later providing gainful employment for many of his siblings.
In Finding My Independence, Brome details his less than encouraging experiences with the commercial banking sector, pointing out that initial funding for his business venture came from an expatriate couple who had befriended him, the local credit union movement and business mogul Sir David Seale, who offered him assistance in acquiring the Baxters Road, property.
Unfortunately, at this juncture of the island’s economic history, Brome’s business venture continues to suffer many setbacks such as undercapitalization and burdensome statutory obligations.
These financial burdens have led to the closure of some of his outlets; but in an attempt to give a new lease on life to his business, he is in the process of concluding a deal to open an outlet in the food court of the recently renovated Massy Mall in Warrens, St Michael.
In his foreword to Finding My Independence, attorney-at-law and social commentator David Comissiong says: “The biography tells the classic story of an unmistakably African Barbadian born into the rigidly race, colour and class-conscious colonial society of 1950s Barbados, who by dint of the force of his personality, his innate intelligence and entrepreneurial talent, and his will to succeed, was able to overcome poverty, the relatively early death of his father and a variety of race and class-based barriers, to scale the heights of business success and achievement in Barbados.”
Comissiong goes on to say that the barest outline of the facts is enough to convey a palpable sense of the tremendous historical significance of Brome’s achievement. The social commentator argues that what makes Brome’s achievement even more special is the fact he has achieved in a sphere of activity in which black Barbadians have generally struggled – the business arena.
Comissiong suggests that Brome’s biography should be essential reading for young Barbadians in particular, “for in it they will find important clues for negotiating the very complex and often treacherous social environment that exists in Barbados, delivered to them in a simple, honest and straightforward manner that reflects the ethos of the life and character of Brome”.
Copies of Finding My Independence will soon be available at bookstores across the island.