January 17, 2023
How does an immigrant from Russia go from sleeping in parks in Chicago to operating a mult-million dollar roofing company and establishing himself as the roofing content king of the world? Introducing Dmitry Lipinskiy! Dmitry’s story is an incredible one for sure, and what he’s done to elevate the roofing industry is nothing short of legendary. Contractors from all trades can learn something so tune in and have your notepad handy!
Dmitry was raised in Russia. Siberia, to be exact. A teacher by trade, in 2005 a 22 year-old Dmitry decided to drop out of University to move to the United States. The oldest of 7 children, he told his father he was moving to the states to become a millionaire. He told his family and everyone he knew wasn’t going to come back. He was ready to die on the streets of America for the opportunity rather than travel back home. Not knowing a single word of English until the age of 21, Dmitry learned just enough to get his visa and made the journey across the oceans.
On a 4-month visa that would expire, Dmitry was living in parks and out of a car in Chicago. His visa expired, but Dmitry was committed. What does an immigrant that needs work and barely speak English do? Construction jobs. Dmitry’s first job was a siding installer. Over the years, he’s installed tile, done painting, cabinetry, and plenty of trades. He was really good at everything he did with his hands, and never got fired a single time from a job. In 2007, he joined a construction company that was remodeling homes. For two years, he worked there doing projects from $40,000 kitchen remodels to $150,000 additions. Then, the owner filed bankruptcy.
With two kids and wife at the time, Dmitry was making $25 an hour. He came home and told his wife he was never going to work for anyone else. And you know what? He never did. Dmitry had a lot of skills, and started thinking about what could for a business. He was pretty sure he could install floors, and had heard those guys made a killing. He put out ads on Craigslist – specials for $1/sq. ft. His very first job was for 475 feet of bamboo floors. He installed it in a day and paid for his nail gun. In the first week of working for himself, Dmitry netted himself about $2,000. He was a machine, and getting jobs was no problem.
He would eventually hire help on Craigslist, and even then he was still making $500-1,000 a day being the cheapest option out there (something he doesn’t recommend now, by the way). From 2011-2013, Dmitry built his flooring company up from nothing. This was in Atlanta where he was living, and during the 6 years he lived there he had 4 children. His wife’s family lived in Minnesota, and when her mother got cancer and started chemo, they decided to move to Minnesota to be closer with her family. Dmitry sold his flooring business, they sold the house, and moved with no real plan.
After moving, Dmitry didn’t know he wanted to stay in flooring. He asked some of his friends in the construction industry if they were to start over, what would they do? Every single builder, every siding guy…they all wanted to be roofers. The roofers make the money. Another thing Dmitry had learned is that while he preferred to be the one doing all the manual labor, that wasn’t where he was most valuable. His ability to find leads and book jobs was the real key. It was his marketing brain.
In 2013, Dmitry both gained his citizenship and started his own roofing company and did $900,000 without knowing anything about roofing. In fact, in the first 6 months, he didn’t have a license and so $500,000 of that was just from guttering (the only thing he could do without the license). In his second year, his company did 1.3MM. Then 2.5MM in the third year, and 5MM in the fourth. After 7 years, Dmitry sold his business.
Now, Dmitry is focused on sharing his expertise and helping other contractors find their own success. He utilizes both his own experience and the wisdom of others to help others elevate their game! Be sure to check out Roofing Insights to see tons of videos and resources you can use today! He is also the founder of Directorii, a great resource for finding contractors.
One of the very first things Dmitry did with his roofing company was find partners right away. He understood that leveraging relationships with suppliers and manufacturers was a must. Early on, he went all-in with Owens Corning. See, Dmitry knows there isn’t a lot of trust between the public and contractors. When you’re selling Trane, or Lennox, or Owens Corning products, these are big brands with trust and recognition. You’re essentially a dealer. He put the Pink Panther (Owens Corning’s mascot) on everything, including his vehicle wraps. While he was proud of his brand, it simply wasn’t on the same level as a well-established, publicly traded, multi-billion dollar company like Owens Corning.
Dmitry would show up to the customer’s door and, instead of telling his own story, would focus on the brand he was selling. Did you know that if you have an iPhone, you’re already an Owens Corning customer? They manufacture the special glass for the phones. See, he leveraged that manufacturer relationship to establish trust with the customer. If Owens Corning trusts Dmitry to install their products, he must be the real deal, right?
A lot of contractors, Dmitry explains, are afraid to say no. They offer all service to all people. They will install anything. He believes this is a mistake. In fact, he believes a big reason he was crushing his competition is because when he came to the homeowner, he wasn’t saying sure, I’ll install whatever you want. That sends a message that you don’t care – you’re just here for the paycheck. The customer wants you to tell them what to choose. You’re the expert, right? Shouldn’t you have an opinion? Dmitry was never afraid to say which products he felt were the best and why. When you say this kind of thing with confidence, they’ll trust you. It doesn’t mean trashing other brands, but you should be confident that you know what’s best for your customers.
You’re only as strong as your biggest weakness! Dmitry believes we shouldalways be training to our weaknesses. As an owner, you simply must be good at all of the fundamentals of business. His biggest weakness starting out was sales. Understanding how to develop a system and process that your team can duplicate. It’s easy when you’re the owner talking directly to the customer. But you can’t teach that.
Dmitry started following the legendary home improvement industry sales trainer Rodney Webb, and credits Rodney with making him who he is today with sales. He learned phrases he simply didn’t have before like “other than prices and payment is there any other reason we couldn’t start your project today?”. Rodney changed his world, and it all started with a routine chimney leak lead.
Dmitry, using Rodney’s system, came up with a whole 15-slide presentation and showed up to the customer’s home. He gave them the initial $350 estimate, but asked politely if he could sit down in the kitchen and show them his presentation. He covered the company story, the Owens Corning story, and explained how his company was different. He talked about what the customer could expect on the day of service. And then, he asked for the sale. Dmitry told the homeowner that look, your chimney is 20 years old. We can fix the problem today, but you’ll need a new roof at some point. Here’s the estimate for the repair, and here’s an estimate for a replacement. What happened next shocked Dmitry. The homeowner told him how incredible it was that he was so prepared. He asked him to come back when his wife was around so he could tell his story again. When Dmitry showed up the next time, he sold $35,000 of work. If you present yourself well and ask for the sale, huge things can happen. Rodney Webb taught Dmitry how to charge more, take pride in his price and products, and use a system to elevate his sales game.
So many contractors, especially in the roofing industry, simply don’t understand how to create content that resonates. Dmitry is clear that while he feeds the roofing industry, he goes outside of it to “eat”. Going to things like the Content Marketing World conference and YouTube conferences is where he’s getting his biggest inspirations. See, a lot of people don’t really understand content at all. Algorithms and trends are constantly changing. What you have to do is create content that you actually want to consume yourself. That’s the secret.
Don’t sit there and document your day to day life. And seriously, no one wants to watch the drone footage of the project you just did or hear the interview with the customer who is always going to give a positive review after spending $20,000. Boring! No one wants to listen to a sales rep or hear a sales pitch. Dmitry has seen people post their commission checks on Facebook and stuff. Like, who is your target audience? Why are you publishing that? What message are you sending? You bought a nice new care? I’m the homeowner, I’m selfish, what’s in this for me? I’m trying to save money. How much did you save the homeowner? We need to think the opposite way when we turn on the those cameras. You know what does work? Honest reviews. Think about your customer. Do they care about your commission check? No! Tell me what went wrong with the project or new product. What went great? Tell me what you learned. Tell us about the experience. And understand that your title should reflect that. It’s not about you, it’s about the consumer.
Your first month doing videos will suck. Don’t be discouraged when you see only 20 or 30 views. You have to keep grinding and learning and improving. There are no shortcuts in the content game. If you want to learn more about YouTube, go straight to the source! YouTube has tons of tools for creators to understand how to better your content, as well as great data on your demographics, performance, and more. Focus on whats’ working with your content, and understand it’s not just about quantity. It’s about quality.
When Dmitry was running his roofing business, he started putting out content online. With his background of education studying theater, he knew how to go about creating content. He understood how to create a script, create characters, and put on a show. Simply put, he understood how to engage, entertain, and educate his audience. Naturally, a lot of people started asking him questions and wanting to learn more. Dmitry was an open book and excited to help, so he invited people to come and take a class from him at his business for free. He was a 4MM company at the time, and the class wasn’t anything official. There was no signup page or marketing for it. When he opened the doors to his warehouse and found 50 people from California to New Jersey waiting outside, he was stunned! It was a quick trip to Lowe’s to get extra folding chairs and then the classes began. This was the birth of the Roofing Process Conference. It has grown year after year, and in 2021 there were over 1,000 people in attendance.
If you’d like to learn more or sign up for the next Roofing Process Conference, it’s easy! Vist the Roofing Process Conference website!