Podcast - Episode 4: Mutual benefit through employment

 In this episode, you'll hear from Tyrex and the impact that disability employment has had on their culture and the lives of the participants that have been placed with them.

Enzo Pirillo and Troy Turner join us representing Tyrex, an Australian manufacturer that for more than 30 years has been providing sustainable solutions for business and homes by using recycled rubber to produce a range of products. 

Listen our new full episode here:


You can also watch the whole episode here:


Full episode transcripts here:

Brad Webb: Welcome to the latest episode in the podcast series from Castle, Embrace your Otherness. It's a space where we have conversations around disability, around employment, with people whose lives and work are directly impacted by that work.

I would like to begin this morning by acknowledging the Traditional owners of the lands on which Castle operates services. We have the Wonnarua people, the Awabakal people, the Worimi people, and the Darkinjung people. And I pay my respects to the elders past present and future.

Today, we're gonna be talking about the value of employing people with disabilities, both for the individuals concerned themselves and for the organisations that are involved in those appointments. We're joined by Enzo Pirillo, the CEO of Tyrex, and Troy Turner, the Production Manager from Tyrex.

Tyrex Solutions is a local manufacturer of recycled rubber products, including wheelchair access ramps. They've also worked as employment partners with Castle since 2017, employing five participants in the last 12 months alone, including Troy who's been promoted to 2IC.

Alongside Enzo and Troy, we also have Castle Toronto's Mark Midson, the employment count officer who placed and supported Troy in role with Tyrex. Good morning to you all.

Enzo Pirillo: Good morning.

Troy Turner: Morning.

Mark Midson: Morning, Brad.

Brad Webb: Troy, I wanna start with your story. When we first met, I got to hear your story and it blew me away about the impact that Castle and Tyrex has had on your life. No better person to tell that story than you. Do you want to share with us what your journey's been?

Troy Turner: Yeah, sure. So about 18 months ago, I was unemployed and happened to be in a meeting with my case officer at Castle at Toronto. And Mark happened to walk past and we got to talking and said he might have a position for me as a factory hand at Tyrex.

Basically at that stage, I'd been unemployed for about five years, due to back injuries from previous work and a few mental issues. And I was lucky enough that Tyrex gave me an opportunity through Castle, to work there for a period of time as a factory hand.

I was lucky enough that with my previous experience in construction, that I was able to step up into different roles at Tyrex, as a fab shop worker and doing designs of custom ramps.

Brad Webb: Yep.

Troy Turner: And then moved into the supervisor's role, after about eight months. And then from there, I've stepped up into the production manager's role as well. So yeah, that's.

Brad Webb: That's a pretty dramatic transformation in 18 months.

Troy Turner: It is. Yeah.

Brad Webb: Yeah. Yeah, so how does the Troy of today compare to the Troy of 18 months ago?

Troy Turner:Basically I was a shadow of myself back then. I've really been able to regain the confidence that I'd lost through my disability and with Tyrex's help, they've helped me build myself back up to what I once was.

Brad Webb: Yeah.

Troy Turner: And now I'm in a better place now than I ever was.

Brad Webb: So Enzo, Troy's talked about that from his perspective, as an employer, can you cast your mind back to 18 months ago when you first?

Enzo Pirillo: Well, in actual fact, I met Troy officially back in October. And when I first started speaking to him, I thought, this guy's got some real potential. He's got some great skill set here. He's a good people person. He understands people and I go by gut feeling and I got real positive gut feeling about Troy.

I thought, this gentleman here could step up. And what he's done is exactly that, he's stepped up and he's got skills that I had no idea he had. The ability to deal with people, which is not an easy thing to do, managing people is probably the hardest thing to do out there. He does it quite effectively. He's not aloof, he's down to earth. He can speak to people from all backgrounds and he can understand that people have difficulties throughout life, whether that be mental issues, issues with children, spend time with children and so forth.

So I'm a great believer in always treating people equally, treat them with respect. And if you give people the opportunity and you treat them with respect, you get that in kind. And they're the type of people we want on board.

I understand everyone goes through a black space in their lifetime. We're here to give people opportunities. And if we can bring them up and make them better people through Tyrex, it's great for our organisation. But on top of that, it's great for them more so, 'cause it drags 'em out of a hole.

Brad Webb: What really strikes me and inspires me about this story, is that you didn't know Troy existed.

Enzo Pirillo: No.

Brad Webb: And he was sitting hidden away, in a sense, in those, we talk about those unemployment figures, hidden in those unemployment figures and we're going, now we're down to 3.9% unemployment. There's no workforce out there for us. And yet here was somebody sitting there, with such immense talent and opportunity and contribution to make.

How's that changed your thinking about the role of disability employment and targeting groups, not just people with disability, but a whole range of groups that might not be necessarily seen as an option for businesses.

Enzo Pirillo: I'm a great believer that you give people a go, okay. If you give people a go and they do their best to step up to the mark, I'm there to support them. It's the people who don't want to make the effort that I won't waste my time with.

Brad Webb: Yeah.

Enzo Pirillo: So if I give them a go and they step up and they take on that responsibility, I support them all the way.

Brad Webb: Yeah.

Enzo Pirillo: So getting back to your original question, obviously people coming through Castle are coming back, they have some rubbish in their background, but at the end of the day everyone's got potential and if they come to us and they show us that potential, we're there to support them all the way.

Brad Webb: Yeah. I'm gonna come back to that later, when we talk about the fact that you now have four, five more people placed via Castle and I'm sure others, but I wanna ask you Mark, this is your bread and butter, this is what you do every day.

I'm gonna ask you to go back 18 months ago and think about that chance meeting with Mark, when you passed by, your relationship with Tyrex and what brought those together for you? How did you bring all of that to pass, what we're seeing in front of us today?

Mark Midson: Yeah, sure. Thanks Brad. I guess one of the most important parts, of what I consider my role to be with Castle, is understanding our participants and then understanding what opportunities are actually out there for them.

After meeting Troy, I could quite easily identify that with the right opportunity, Troy could now be back to where he is. The thing from there was identifying a place for that to actually happen. Fortunately Castle had had a relationship with Tyrex and I personally had a relationship with the previous manager at Tyrex, as I'd worked with him in another life. He was once again a gentleman that was very open to opportunity and opportunity, I think has been mentioned by Enzo a couple of times, and for me it's the key word here.

So it was that opportunity for me to approach Nigel at the time and say, look, I've got a guy here, might take a little bit of time for him to hit the heights, but I know that if you give this gentleman an opportunity, he will pay you back fivefold. And it was just a matter of having someone that was open to giving that opportunity. And now we can see the fruits of that in what Troy just described here.

So, for me, it was the opportunity to sit back 18 months ago, and to be honest, every single day that I turn up to work for Castle, and to talk to people like Troy and just try and understand currently where they're at, what they're dealing with, but also, not so much that, but what they can do and what they've got to give and then finding the place for that to go forward. And for me, that was a key with Troy.

I could see that there was barriers, but I could also see with Troy's background and what he was trying to do with his life, that there was potential and opportunity. And they're the keys for me, as potential and opportunity. And with employers like Tyrex, that are open minded to that opportunity, it gives me such a great scope to help our participants like Troy.

Brad Webb: I think one of the great strengths of the disability employment service sector is that we've got the time to spend in the conversation with the individual and actually look and explore those strengths. It's not just a quick tick and flick across to that.

Troy, you spent, what did you say, five years unemployed? What was different about your experience with Castle when you came in, in terms of making that rapid transition then into a job?

Troy Turner: Well, I think like initially, you've gotta be ready for it, if you're not ready for change in your life, you're not gonna be able to do anything with any opportunity that someone gives you. The fact that Mark was able to support me and have my back, when I was transitioning back into full time work, I had someone that I could give a call to, to say, look, I can't make it today
. I dunno what's going on, in my head, or just I'm struggling a bit. And just having these conversations with him and getting some understanding from him and then support from Tyrex to allow me to have that slow transition into full time.

Those are the things that helped me get back into work. But at the end of the day, you gotta be ready for it.

Brad Webb: Yeah. I think that's a thing that people don't necessarily understand about the process is that alongside our participants, our support, to guide them through both education and just mentoring, and just as you say, a phone that you can pick up and call and have a chat to somebody.

Equally on the employer's side, there are supports there because it's not an easy step for employers to take, to rethink the way in which the employment relationship works. From your perspective, Enzo, was how much support did you get from Castle in that process as an organisation, as a business?

Enzo Pirillo: Mark has been a great help. I can pick up the phone and speak to Mark anytime. So he knows what our business is about, he understands it. He knows the type of people are gonna fit in there. And it's been a great relationship. So from our point of view, Castle have done the right thing by us. Not every case is gonna be success.

Brad Webb: Yeah.

Enzo Pirillo: But it's all about numbers and the more numbers we can put through, even if we get one success out of five, to me, that's a real advantage.

Brad Webb: Yeah.

Enzo Pirillo: Yeah. A real plus.

Brad Webb: Yeah, that's an important point to make, that it's like any employment relationship, it's that mix between getting the right set of skills and the right match in terms of the organisation and its culture.

Enzo Pirillo: Yeah.

Brad Webb: I want to talk about culture for a second, 'cause I recall our recent conversation about a transformation that's occurred at Tyrex from a cultural perspective.

Enzo Pirillo: Yeah.

Brad Webb: Would you like to just explore that a little bit further?

Enzo Pirillo: Yeah, I'll start off. And I think probably Troy could take over a bit there. Our culture's dramatically changed since we've been there and it's really due to a brand new people coming into the organisation and people respecting each other. It's hard enough turning up for work, but let alone having to deal with bullying issues, or having sort of relationship issues with other people. Everyone gets on well, they all speak to each other. Everyone respects each other. And our culture is based on that.

Culture to us is very important. And that's happened through finding the right people coming into the organisation and that's where Mark comes in. He knows the type of people who are gonna fit into our organisation, into our culture and also making sure that the culture's upheld. Anything that's outta line we step on and that's where Troy comes in.

Troy Turner: I've got a different managing technique that I do. I manage people basically. I'm not a manager that hides away in an office, I'm out on the floor because as I said, I started at the bottom, I've done every job in that shed, just like I've done in previous roles with other companies, I've always started the bottom, worked me way up. So you get a sense of, you know what every person in that shed, at any level, is needing and what they're requiring.

So, we might have 17 people working there and I know those 17 people, everyone's got a problem, everyone's got issues, but I know each and every one of them and that is my managing style. So we're very supportive of everyone's issues and problems. They know that they can come and talk to someone, whether it be someone from Castle or myself, Enzo, the administration officer in the office, everyone is open to everyone there. It's just a really great place to work. You talk to anyone there and everyone's so happy to be there. They're happy to come to work in the morning.

Brad Webb: I've had the privilege of being on your shop floor and witnessing that for myself.

Troy Turner: Yeah.

Brad Webb: Witnessing the diversity of the group that's there. It's not a typical.

Troy Turner: No.

Brad Webb: You can't cast your eye around and make typical assumptions about the individuals there. They're all very unique. There's a kindness that seemed to run through the way in which people spoke to each other.

Enzo Pirillo: Yeah.

Brad Webb: And regarded each other. But the fact that both Enzo and Troy, you could walk around that shop floor and people would talk to you and genuinely engage, was also a remarkable thing to observe.

Mark, you've placed additional people with Troy into Tyrex. Do you have an observation about culture and the change and the impact, I guess, that people with disability, can bring to the culture of an organisation?

Mark Midson: Yeah, for sure, Brad. The big thing now is with the culture that is at Tyrex, Enzo sort of hit the nail on the head, where I've seen some personal responsibility in making sure I foster that culture and with our participants, it's a great conversation to sit down and have with them now about people that it might be a little bit uncertain about returning to the workforce and myself being very confident in being able to express to them what a great culture there is there, that they will be understood and they will be accepted and they will be afforded opportunity.

So that's a really great conversation for someone in my position at Castle to be able to have with our participants, that I can confidently convey that to them, knowing that they'll be looked after when they work there. And on the other front also too, the ability for me to actually say to our participants about that culture and how they can conduct themselves to fit into it as well, and add to it.

So it's a great thing for me to be able to actually do, by understanding the business of Tyrex and understanding that culture, it gives me a lot of confidence in my role at Castle to put that forward to our participants, to allay any possible fears or anxieties they have about getting into the workforce. But also too, it's great to give them a clear understanding of the expectations of what a great organisation like this does and that when they show up, this is kind of how we behave and this is what we do. And they will understand very quickly if they give, they will get, at Tyrex. And for me, that's a great thing to be able to do. And it just, to be honest, it puts our participants at ease, even down to the fact that in two days from when we're doing this podcast, there's a young man that's gonna do a trial shift with Troy.

Brad Webb: Yep.

Mark Midson: And, he's gone through a lot, like a lot of our clients do. And once I explained to him about Tyrex and actually took him for a look at the factory the other day, and he met some of the people, to be able to talk to him about that and for him to come and see the factory, it's like I could see a lot of his tension melt away. And from when I got him in the car when I picked him up from his house to taking him to the factory, to dropping him off, it was a different young man that got outta the car and his view on going and trying to get back into work and going to the factory was just, it was a complete turnaround from uncertainty to him texting me saying, "when can I do the trial shift?" And that's all because of my understanding of this business and what these guys offer at Tyrex, as far as opportunity and support.

Brad Webb: Well, the other thing that struck me, and it seems somewhat ironic, 'cause there's four men sitting around having a yarn, but the diversity of the workforce from a gender perspective, from a cultural background perspective, from an age perspective.

Troy Turner: Yeah.

Enzo Pirillo: Yeah.

Brad Webb: Was that a deliberate thing, Troy, that you're doing in terms of building that?

Troy Turner: No, I mean, there was a time, when I was at a factory, I probably would never have had a female on the floor. It was just an old school culture in there. Well, that's completely changed now. Now my supervisor's female, she came in and showed that she had what it would take to become a supervisor. Now she runs the crew in my absence and is doing a fantastic job. Other than that, I've got another two female staff members out on the floor doing work in dispatch, laying ramps with the guys, doing work up in the fab shop.

Brad Webb: I think inclusion and diversity is one of those core elements of Castle's culture and one of the core things we aim to do. And of course we talk often about the role of inclusion for people with disability, but inclusion and diversity extends across a range of areas.

And from a business perspective, Enzo, your observation of diversity and the value of that to the business. Do you have any thoughts?

Enzo Pirillo: I think it equates to its success. Our businesses are our people and if we've got good people, then our business is gonna become profitable and a success in the future. You talk about diversity, we've got ladies on the floor, we've also got people from different sexual persuasions, people with, have suffered from depression. People from all walks of life. I think that is our success. We're bringing people in fresh, who don't have any baggage from previous work experiences, who need a hand and they fit in perfectly into our work culture.

Brad Webb: Mm yeah. No it's a tremendous success story. And that's why I was so inspired by what I saw and by what you've achieved at Tyrex. And the other thing that wraps around that of course, is you work in at the circular economy, recycling old tires, and you're producing products that help people with disability amongst other.

Enzo Pirillo: Exactly.

Brad Webb: And people who are aging and access and inclusion projects. It really is quite a neat package for me, just seeing the success. But I'm particularly inspired, Troy, by your growth and your achievement there. What do you say to people that were in a situation like you were 18 months ago? What do you say to people who are contemplating, you talked earlier about being ready for this, I'm really interested in your thoughts.

Troy Turner: I know it's easy to look back now and say that it was easy, but it wasn't. Those first steps are the hardest. But having a support network through Castle, Tyrex, people you can talk to, to get that support, to help you through those first steps. And before you know it, you'll be kicking goals. So just take those first steps and they might be baby steps, but it doesn't take long until you'll be running. So just go for it.

Brad Webb: Yeah. Mark, that person that's taken that first step and knocks on the door of Castle, and you greet them. What are the things that you say to those people in terms of encouraging them to take that next step?

Mark Midson: Yeah, Brad, I think Troy hit it on the head then. It's difficult for everyone to actually make a change. Change is hard for all humans. So the biggest thing we do every day, and I see my colleagues do as well, is just to help try and foster that change and provide positive reinforcement with it. So to all our participants now, or to anyone out there that watch the podcast, all I would say to you is, give yourself an opportunity to come in and see us and be open to that change.

We've got a great structure and support network. We do things a bit differently to other desk providers, where we have the three tiered approach with case management and account officers and support. So we have a really good wrap around. All I can say to people is come in, it's hard to change and it's hard to trust. But if you do that, I can guarantee you that, my time at Castle, every single person I see, that puts on this shirt every day, does everything they can to support you. And that's what we'll continue to do. And that was to be honest, that's all I knew I needed to do for Troy.

I knew Troy had what it took, to be here today and to be doing what he's doing in that factory. And I knew the greatest thing I could do for Troy was just to be there, to support him when he started. And ironically, that's not even my core role in the business, but that's what I knew I needed to do. I didn't need to be next to Troy helping him lay a ramp, or showing him where the rubber was, but I knew I just needed to be there for him.

So when he just needed someone to chat to, or needed some positive reinforcement or needed someone to talk to the manager and say, "Hey, this guy just needs a day off just to refresh and come back again". That's what I knew I needed to do. So to anyone out there and to our participants, just give us an opportunity at Castle. I'm sure we'll put our best foot forward to you.

Change is difficult, but I know we can help you get through that and take those baby steps towards running, as Troy talked about.

Brad Webb: And Enzo, to employers that might happen to be listening to this episode, what would you say to them?

Enzo Pirillo: I would say to them, it's been success for us. Give it a go. Just give things a go. If you want to continue achieving the same results, then continue doing what you're doing. But if you wanna achieve other results, that are gonna be positive, you need to change and you need to give things to go, and step outside of your comfort zone and just give it a go.

Brad Webb: Yeah. There lies the opportunity. The theme of this podcast series is embrace your otherness. It's a tagline that we are using to talk about people embracing their otherness. One of the things I ask the guests on each episode, is to share with us what embrace your otherness means to them as individuals. I'm gonna ask you to just think on that for a while, and go through to Mark. What does embrace your otherness mean to you?

Mark Midson: Yeah, Brad, for me, embrace your otherness is probably a personal sort of thought process as much as what it is a work process. So after many, many years in sales and management, I joined Castle based on the fact that I actually have three children and two of my boys actually have a disability. So embracing your otherness for me was about being involved in an industry like this, where I could make a personal difference, that I knew would make an impact on my home life as much as others.

So I guess that kind of derived from me, from a project that I run on the side, which I run a disability soccer club for children. So we have 62 kids from six to 18, that I've done for six years now, my wife and I have have done for six years. That kind of gave me the antagonist to understand that by embracing your otherness effectively and seeing all these kids and giving them the opportunity, what it could do, that inspired me to wanna work in an industry like this, because I know that it'll have an impact on my personal life.

As much as it gives me a great feeling, to go to work every day, when I come from a background that it was all sales and numbers and figures and cold hearted, where now, my heart's a lot warmer every day when I turn up to work. And that's for me, what embrace your otherness is. It's just that opportunity to give people a chance and to see the potential that's in people. And that all started from me with my little soccer project. And now that that's opened my mind to be able to sit down with Troy or whoever comes through our door and just, I guess, wash away what doesn't need to be there and just see what can be there. And that's what I enjoy the most about this job, and that's what I really believe embracing your otherness is all about, it's just giving people the chance and understanding and supporting.

Brad Webb: It's a hard act to follow, but I'm gonna ask you Troy. Thanks Mark.

Mark Midson: I'm normally not a hard act to follow, mate.

Troy Turner: Okay. So yeah, to me, it's more so along the lines of just taking those opportunities that sit there in front of me. It was an opportunity to be a factory hand to start with, but then it was something else and something else, and it just kept on going and it's taken me all the way to the top. And as I said, I feel better in myself now than I ever have in my whole life because of those little opportunities that I didn't let slip through my fingers. I just took 'em on, little bit at a time. It's also put me in a position where now, I can help other people, and just by being able to help these other people, every day, I feel better about myself.

Brad Webb: It's magic.

Troy Turner: Going from three or four years ago, when I didn't even wanna get outta bed in the morning, to being where I am now, I wake up in the morning and I can't wait to get to work and sort things out and help people. Yeah, it's fantastic. So yeah, just take the opportunities when they present themselves. Go out there and kick some goals.

Brad Webb: Brilliant, brilliant. Enzo, embrace your otherness. What's that mean?

Enzo Pirillo: I've got a lot of thoughts running through my head, but I suppose a prime example would be, in the past, we used to employ people at Tyrex who had industry experience, who had all that baggage. And those guys never worked for us. They were too difficult to manage. They were reticent to change. They just wanna do things exactly the same way. They were always miserable. They were always fighting amongst themselves.

Our otherness is the new people we've brought into the place. People like Troy, who have had issues in their life and they've come in, they started afresh, they fit exactly into our culture. I don't feel like I need to do everything in the organisation. I can delegate things to Troy and other people there. And I have confidence that they can do it. I just got to mentor them every, they take it with both hands and it just saves me so much time and grief.

Troy Turner: Everyone wants to do it or want to do it, they wanna do those things.

Enzo Pirillo: And an organisation, one person can't do everything. If you really want to get ahead in an organisation, you need to diversify those responsibilities across the board and have confidence in those people being able to achieve it.

Brad Webb: You know what? I don't think I'll ever tire of hearing Troy's story and the Tyrex story and the role that we've played at Castle in supporting that. It really is inspiring. And it really is a testament to the value of what disability employment services can add to a business and to individual participants.

I'm really grateful that the three of you agreed to have this conversation. Mark, Troy, Enzo, thank you for spending time with us today telling that story. And I hope people listening to this episode, will feel similarly inspired to, either as a participant, take that step, or as an employer, take that step and reach out to Castle to see what we can do for them. So thanks so much for your time.

Troy Turner: No worries.

Enzo Pirillo: Thank you.

Mark Midson: Thanks Brad.