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IN THE CITY MAGAZINE
The Canberra Times | In The City Magazine | WINTER
It didn't exist 18 months ago, now it provides
muscle and high-tech security solutions to
venues across the city.
Leader Security is a company on the rise
and the boys behind the scenes - and not so behind
the scenes - are showing they have got the goods
when it comes to delivering what people want.
Driving the company forward is Troy Cassell. A
natural entrepreneur who has been doing deals
since he was a kid.
Handling a crew of more than 100 men on
the ground is Waikato-born Rocky Joseph 'Te
Wharemetai' Winikerei - a human sledgehammer
with a disarmingly genteel manner.
I meet both men for a coffee in Garema Place
to hear about how they got to where they are and
what they were like when they were younger.
"Growing up I remember I got suspended from
school because I set up a business selling lollies,''
"I managed to compete with the
cafeteria, which caused the school
all sorts of problems. It had such an
impact on the school cafeteria that
they actually suspended me.
"I was always getting into trouble.
My parents bought me what I needed
never what I wanted. I would be
haggling, trading, swapping things
that I didn't even want knowing that
I had a deal lined up somewhere else
just to put myself in a better position.
"I suppose that's how I've been
geared since I was 12 years old.''
Troy's father was an air force man and he grew
up in the US before finally settling in Canberra in
his late teens. One of his first security jobs was as a
doorman at former city nightclub, Pandoras.
After working in the industry for a while he
realised a technological shift away from total
reliance on manpower was taking place and that
business would be looking at alternatives to save
"I've always been like that,'' Troy says.
"I needed to understand what people's needs
were and the only way I was going to get what I
wanted was by satisfying people's need. I suppose
that is the fundamentals to being in business.''
Although that shift has occurred their need
for bouncers to man doors at night remains.
Responsibility for that side of the business falls in
large part to Rocky.
He has eight sisters, two brothers, is the father
of five boys and the grandfather of nine - and as of
this moment has an immediate family of 78.
Descended from Mauri chieftains, Rocky came to
Australia as a pine plantation logger but not before
he worked as a bouncer in New Zealand.
"I did a bit of security back home and believe me
doing security back home is... well, you earn your
money,'' he says. "You're outnumbered whichever
way you look -- especially for big boys.''
But it was there where he gained an insight into
how to manage people and avoid getting into heavy
situations that could go bad. The knowledge he has
is now used to mentor employees getting into the
Rocky insists politeness to patrons and
presenting yourself correctly will almost guarantee
a satisfying response from an inebriated patron.
"Instead of walking up all staunch looking with
your chest puffed out why don't
you just crouch down so you're at
their level so you're not right in
their faces,'' he says.
A gentle chat and the offer
of a glass of water avoids most
problems. It appears to be a
go quietly and carry a big stick
approach. And it's working.
Troy says they've worked
hard to match the right people
to the right venues and are leery
about prospective employees
who haven't come highly
"Given the nature of our industry the media are
straight on it,'' he says. "It's publicised and for us
we've got a lot at stake. We've got our reputations
at stake, our clients reputations and the reputation
of our industry.''
Now that everyone has a camera phone it's
like having the paparazzi at every club. A blood-
spattered melee can be uploaded on to social
media sites in minutes for the world to see. That
kind of exposure can cripple the image of a club
and the staff working there.
As Rocky reclines in the afternoon sun he takes
another sip from his coffee and offers a line he
probably used a thousand times before to defuse
"I just say to them, 'Guys come on, in the end
you're only going to be spoiling each other's night.'''
For anyone on a night out in the city, Troy Cassell and
Rocky Winikerei and the business they run aim to ensure
peaceful festivities. BY MARK SAWA.
walking up all
staunch looking with
your chest puffed
out why don't you
just crouch down so
you're at their level
so you're not right in
Leader Security's Rocky Winikerei and Troy
Cassell have taken a new approach to the
city's clubs. Photo: Andrew Babington
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