Almost a decade after its establishment, Indigenous construction and services company, PSG Holdings, is a leader in their field driving forward Indigenous employment and representation.
PSG Holdings works predominantly in construction, however, it also has a cleaning division and a newly established maintenance division.
Raised in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and a proud member of the La Perouse Aboriginal Land Council, PSG Holdings Owner, Troy Rugless, founded the company in partnership with Shane Jacobs in 2011.
Rugless is a Wiradjuri and Torres Strait Islander man.
“I was playing footy and was working at the fire brigade. I finished up work and our family were in construction. We started doing some cleaning, but we stumbled upon the IPP [Indigenous Procurement Policy] and then that just gave me a whole different perspective of Indigenous business exemption back then,” he said.
“That gave me a real drive to step into the business, it didn’t become about money then it became a bit personal with what we could do with Indigenous businesses and we could start working with other Indigenous businesses as well.”
Currently the company employs around 180 people, of which 25 percent are Indigenous.
Through their cleaning division, PSG Holdings has secured a number of lucrative cleaning contracts, including:
- Queensland’s Australian Taxation Offices
- Western Australia’s Department of Human Services
- The Canberra offices of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority
- South Queensland Defence Facilities.
Throughout the entire company, PSG Holdings brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous workers in a supportive, respectful environment.
“We’re proud of the culture of the business,” said Rugless.
“I am also proud of the non-Indigenous people that work in the business, they are the right people. They have the same values.
“My mum is Indigenous and my dad is white, and that was something that helped me understand the importance of getting the right people on board. Those who have the same ideologies, the same concept of what is right and wrong.
“Once employees join, they must be doing something right, because no one leaves!”
Driven by a strong sense of justice, the importance of PSG Holdings’ culture and its aim to improve Indigenous employment is deeply personal for Rugless.
“Growing up with an Indigenous mother and non-Indigenous father … I actually saw the difference in their lives due to the colour of their skin,” he said.
“It was a massive difference, the opportunity that my dad’s family got compared to my mum’s family. I don’t like injustices. And it is changing which is great, and if I can help that change in any way, I’ll do that.
“It’s an emotional attachment … my grandfather … he went to war and wasn’t allowed in an RSL club because he was Aboriginal. He only knew half of his family, they were Stolen Generation, it was awful stuff.
“He was broken you know, and it wasn’t any fault of his own, it was not knowing his identity, and not being allowed to do things that other people could do because of the colour of his skin.”
Rugless reflected on the Black Lives Matter movement internationally and the waves it is creating for community in Australia
“It’s a big wake up call, you know [racism is] still alive and it’s still there. There’s a lot of work to be done, it is not the majority, I don’t think it is. But the minority can still make a lot of noise and do a lot of damage,” he said.
“I think for most Aboriginal people, they don’t want anything, they want to be acknowledged, they want people to acknowledge what has happened. Then you can move forward.”
With the company’s tenth anniversary next year, Rugless referred back to one of his original goals when establishing the business and the journey so far.
“The goal is to be the first Indigenous business registered on the stock exchange,” he said.
“We’re moving slowly in the right direction but it’s just another thing; it’s a process that you need to go through. And I would do [that] only with the support of my team.”
“It’s a surreal feeling to be where we are at. When we started, my mate had a building and he gave us a bit of office space to start, it was hilarious now I look back. There were holes in the walls, but we didn’t have to pay rent because we couldn’t afford it. So, we’ve come a long way!”
From operating out of a run-down building to securing multiple government cleaning contracts and running a multidivisional company, PSG Holdings continues to grow and edge closer to Rugless’ stock exchange dream.
“It’s a collective effort … Probably the major reason it is where it is, is the people within the business. It’s all about employing the right people and supporting them.”
By Rachael Knowles