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    Living the American Dream: J1 Visa, low paying jobs, roofing, legalization, and working in the USA

    Gino Slipko is the owner of M & Y Remodeling, a roofing company that is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    Slipko, a Ukrainian native, started his roofing company back in 2018, but he has been actively involved in the construction industry for many years.

    “Before starting my roofing company, I worked in general construction, mostly as a subcontractor doing renovations for investors. I was very selective about the type of roofing jobs I took because I wasn’t necessarily looking to install roofs,” Slipko says.

    “When it came to roofing jobs, I didn’t mind working off referrals, but I had no interest in working with homeowners who wanted to do things as cheaply as possible.”

    Even though Slipko knew the roofing industry fairly well from his time as a subcontractor, he says that his initial motivation to become a roofing business owner was to supplement his real estate ventures.

    “I wanted to have an actual business that would bring in a steady cash flow because I’m still actively involved in real estate, but that business takes a lot of time and investment in order to turn a profit,” he explains.

    Slipko then adds that he owns seven properties, six of which he is currently renting out.

    “I also recently sold two single-family homes,” Slipko mentions.

    Thanks to his roofing business, Slipko’s real estate portfolio continues to grow, but the Pittsburgh-based business owner also notes that working in the roofing industry isn’t as glamorous as it may seem.

    “The roofing business is tough,”

    Slipko says.

    “It’s harder than I originally thought it was going to be.”

    Slipko is also quick to emphasize how managing stress is crucial when you’re a roofing business owner.

    “You have to be mentally prepared to deal with all the unforeseen obstacles that constantly come about in the roofing business,” he says.

    At the same time, Slipko concedes that contractors who focus solely on the labor aspect of the industry will experience less mental anguish, but that they also won’t be able to scale their roofing business past a certain threshold.

    “If you just want to have a full-time job and run a small crew, you will have to be on the jobsite every day. That’s easy and you can make a very good living, but you will physically be on roofs every single day, and that will eventually wear you down,” Slipko explains.

    “I realized very quickly that being that type of roofing business owner was not the way to do things if I wanted to grow.”

    As a result, Slipko has taken risks and made moves to expand his roofing business.

    M & Y Remodeling is still a relatively small operation, but Slipko is slowly laying the foundation to one day become a bigger player in the Pittsburgh roofing market.

    But unlike some roofing business owners who try to grow their companies too quickly, Slipko is content to be patient and let M & Y Remodeling organically evolve.

    Gino Slipko

    “I’m happy where I’m at. I’ve worked hard for many years, but I still live a low-maintenance life. My wife and I are not spenders. We instead choose to put a lot of money towards the roofing business,” Slipko says.

    In that sense, homeowners will never see Slipko show up to an appointment in a fancy car or sporting designer clothes.

    “I don’t own any jewelry. I don’t even have a wedding ring. My family lives in a standard home, and most importantly, we have health insurance,” Slipko says, who notes that not every roofing business owner spends their money in such a calculated manner.

    “You would think that health always comes first, but I know guys who make decent money, and they prioritize driving a BMW over getting health insurance for their family. That mentality is just crazy to me.”

    It’s clear that Slipko’s long-term approach to life bleeds into his business philosophies, which is a big reason why M & Y Remodeling appears primed to remain successful in the coming years.

    “I always tell people to focus on making an honest living and invest in themselves or a business because if they do that, there will be a day when they will be able to afford whatever they want,” Slipko says.

    “The work that people put in now will pay off later. I absolutely believe that.”

    Still, Slipko’s beliefs do not detract from the reality that the roofing business is hard, and in order for him to grow, it will take a skilled team of professionals to help build a sustainable roofing company.

    “I’m still a one-man show. Everything associated with my roofing business still goes directly through me. That means no matter what happens, every mistake still falls on my shoulders,” Slipko reveals.

    “At the same time, I have a good team. My foreman is amazing, and I can trust him to handle anything that needs to be done.”

    Beyond having a good team in place, roofing companies, especially those located in Pittsburgh, would be wise to invest in the array of new technology available to contractors.

    This includes the Equipter, a popular machine among roofers because it helps limit some of the strain that roofing jobs put on the body.


    “Every decent roofing company in Pennsylvania has at least one Equipter. I bought one because I knew it would help my guys, and I’m always willing to spend money to make life easier for them,” Slipko says.

    “On top of that, there are a lot of homes here in Pennsylvania that don’t have room for a traditional dump trailer, so the Equipter is perfect for those situations.”

    Lastly, while succeeding in the roofing industry is difficult, it can be done with persistency and hard work, two traits that Slipko has exhibited ever since he left Ukraine and immigrated to the United States.

    Plus, even if you’re not a roofing business owner, Slipko says there is still so much that you can do today to make your life better, especially when it comes to finances.

    “No matter how much money you are making, always go to work. It doesn’t matter if you used to make $20 per hour and now you make only $13 per hour. Never be too prideful to work for less money because no one is entitled to anything,” Slipko says.

    “Ultimately, money will come and go, but you always have to work. If you’re expecting something to fall in your lap, you’ll be waiting forever.”

    To learn more about M & Y Remodeling, visit their website today, or call 412-218-7082!

    Quentin Super
    Senior Copywriter at Roofing Insights, author of the internationally-selling book The Long Road North, founder of quentinsuper.com

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