Preacher on the Roof

Interview with Alex Kotsyuba of Home Evolution

By Katia Parella

Business name: Home Evolution
Type: Construction Company (Roofing, Siding, Windows)
Title: Owner
Start year: 2006
Location: Albany, NY

   Behind every great business, there’s an owner, who worked hard, prayed hard, suffered, had setbacks, disappointments, losses, sleepless nights, broken dreams & many-many sacrifices. Meet Alex Kotsyuba, the owner of Home Evolution, who went through all of the above & then some. He is a blessed man, no doubt. Those blessings came with a high price. But it was all worth it. 

   Alex might be a successful business owner, but he is also a preacher, a follower & lover of Jesus. I met him to talk about business, but we talked mostly about God & the work He had done in Alex’s life over the years. 

   Behind every great Christian business, there’s a God, who has entrusted His promises to the business owner, who sought Him first. One might look at Alex & all the success he’s had & attribute it to luck & hard work. But it is undeniably God, who Alex invited into his life long before the success came. It is God who blessed him. 

   I meet Alex at his large office located in the building with multiple garages, cars & work trucks. When I came, his workers were finishing up their work day, unloading & moving the trucks. Alex met me at his conference room. He was dressed casual & looked no different than one of the workers who I met outside. 

   The Fire Magazine (TFM): What is [your business] teaching you? Especially, [when] you combine your faith together with your business.

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   Alex Kotsyuba (AK): I definitely see why God decided to bring me through the journey of business. First of all, it’s teaching [me] patience & the importance of [it]. Then, it’s definitely teaching leadership…and importance of a group of people. When we are younger,…we really depend on ourselves. “I don’t need anybody, I got this covered. God, use me! I’m ready to move the whole world”. And then running a business, going through a hard time in life - you realize that you got nothing covered, you can’t do nothing & you’re totally dependent on God. So, in business I was starting to see things very similar to the Bible. I realize - if you want to do a lot, you need to have a lot of people. And you have to be able to put people in the right places, so [the business] can work like a body, in a way…and be able to produce a lot. One man can only do so much…That has taught me how not to be a lone ranger, as they call it. But to realize that you need a lot of people. And how to work with people…Apostle Peter says: “I [will] say to you in these Scriptures that you already know, but I [will] bring into your remembrance”. What I noticed working with people, you have to constantly remind them about the same things over & over & over [again]. And never get weary about it. Because people are just built that way…We are the type of people - “I told you once, why can’t you understand?!” That teaches us as parents, as leaders that we have to constantly remind people…See, this business was started based on a revelation. Let me go back a little bit…I’ve learned in business - to wait upon the Lord. “Be anxious for nothing, but in all things let your request be known to God with thanksgiving”. If somebody is thankful, they are not anxious. Anxiety only harms us. Anxiety shows that we want to be in control [of our lives]. 

   Alex talks about the importance of leadership in business & in ministry. “When we die to ourselves, when we accept Christ as our Savior, we say: “Lord, we want You to be Lord over our [lives]. We want You to lead our [lives]. And we will just follow”. And being a follower is much easier than [being] a leader…And the only reason why we still take directions in our lives, cause we really don’t trust Jesus”. Alex says that we love when others do the work for us & tell us exactly what to do & “take responsibility off of us”. 

   His company is not done growing & Alex has confidence that God will grow his business even more, “because of the dream that He gave me”. He believed in that dream & he says: “I tried to help God”. He wanted to speed up the process on his own strength & realized “God doesn’t need help. He does it on His own timing”. He continues: “I was anxious, I was overworking, I was tired…I wasn’t getting anywhere”. After which God showed Alex the Scripture in Galatians 3:3: “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?”. He says: “Let the Holy Spirit do everything for you”. He acknowledged that he “took extra burden” on himself & stopped enjoying the work. Then God intervened & spoke to him: “When the blessing came to your door steps, did I need your help? No. When everything started [to fall] into place, did you have anything to do with it? No”. And after that, his workers came themselves. “When we are doing a plan of God in our lives”, he adds, is when God is working with us. “Our job is to follow the directions & give Him praise”. He had to let go & stop worrying about the business. His mind had to be renewed. “And I’ve seen miracles!”, he exclaims. “I started seeing that everything falls in its place”.

   How big does he envision his business will grow? “[God] knows how big it has to get & how small it has to be. Why does it matter - if [I] have one employee or a thousand employees. Because the promise is still going to be the same for you”. He doesn’t worry about trying to grow the company & mentions Matthew 6:25-26: “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

   What other valuable lesson has he learned about money? “Don’t think about money!…God will provide. He is our provider. He is our Father.” Matthew 6:30 calls those who worry “you of little faith”. He adds: “That’s what Gentiles do…what unbelievers do. That’s why they are all worried about my 401k, I gotta save for my retirement, [etc.]. I stood back & thought about [those who I knew close], who passed away…none of them went hungry, none of them were naked. All of their bills were paid & they all had shelter. God provided for all of them.” He shares briefly about his parents, who came to US with nothing, very poor. They had 10 children. “God has provided the whole time…They have a house all paid off. No retirement”. But God has & is still providing for them. So, why do people hold on to money? “Because they don’t trust that God will provide for tomorrow…If you’re starting to hoard money & hold on to money because you worry about the economy, you worry about your future…your God is your money!”. He challenges those who say they trust God & have money in the bank: “The reason why they say they trust God, is because they have money in their bank. You take that money out…all that trust will be out [of] that window!”. 

   He has also seen the faithfulness of God through Home Evolution. “I know what [this business] is for”. Awhile before he started it, he took a year off & “devoted my life to prayers & reading of Scriptures & going to church services”. For one whole year. During that time he was getting closer to God & had met a lot of ministers & missionaries who came to his church. That is when Alex noticed how little people were donating to those in ministries, to those in need. “And that really touched my heart”, he says. He saw how difficult it was to be a minister, who relies completely on God.  

   Before he took a year off, he was working as a successful salesman for another company, but he was not joyful. He felt that God was asking him to leave that job & “rededicate my life”. So, he had to walk away from it all. Why? “Because God was not in it”. It was during that time that he prayed a prayer that would change his life: “Lord, give me wealth, [so] I can bless Your people…Your ministers & have the things for Your kingdom. Not knowing that God was listening to my prayer”. After that year, his money ran out & he was in need of a job. And at that time in 2006 his business was born. “So, I decided to make some flyers” & give them out & he got his first phone call. 

   As the years went by, his business kept growing. “It came to a place, when I had plenty for my family” & he questioned himself on why he needed all the money he had earned. He prayed: “God, why are you blessing me? I have more than I need!” As soon as he asked that question, “the Holy Spirit reminded me of that prayer that I [prayed] 3 years ago.” And then he was tested - he would save up money & be asked by God to give it all away. Alex says that “my heart was for the Lord…Lord, I’m willing!”. Each time he would give away his savings, “the business would just skyrocket!”. He would be blessed back with abundance. He heard a word from God: “I see that you are faithful…Keep it up & I’m going to multiply [the blessings]”. Right after that, the business doubled. And even though his business has boomed, he says, “I don’t take any credit!”.

   God has undeniably blessed Alex & Home Evolution & people who work with him. Alex continues to stay faithful to the promise he made through his prayer. He continues to give & bless others. He now prays that God will guide him in giving “the funds to the right people”. He understands that “there are a lot of crooks out there”. He looks at his hands & says:“May these hands never become sticky”. He understands that wealth comes with “tremendous responsibility”. To those who wish to have wealth, he says: “You’re gonna be responsible. You will have to give an account. I will have to [do that too].” He prays about being “a wise steward”, about direction, giving or investing with what he has been blessed with. 

   TFM: Have you experienced the love of money on your journey?

   AK: I don’t think that I have the heart for the love of money. I was willing to walk away in the beginning when I was making [a lot]…Jesus says “he [who] is faithful in the little, will be faithful in much”. It’s much easier to give $5 than to give $5000. But if you learn…to start giving $5, which is easy…than you will be able to give $5000…In the little things in life, I remember, I passed those tests. And the Lord was able to entrust me with [wealth]…

   After pondering a bit more on my question, he adds “maybe, there is some” of love for money. “And that is why I have to pray. Because we are in the flesh. And it’s very easy to fall into [love for money], so I can’t be boastful about it…I see that [money] kinda affects me, but I’m bringing it to the Lord”. He honestly admits his humanity, while still relying on God & trying to remain in the Spirit. “If you keep on giving, that root [of love of money] will not grow”, he concludes. 

   TFM: What about your personality? Do you think you have changed - Alex who just started out his business vs today?

   AK: If you ask people [who] know me, they all told me: “Wow! You have changed so much!” That has nothing to do with me. That’s [the work] of God…If people only knew what I went through, growing this business, I’d say 99.9% would not want to go through this, doesn’t matter how much wealth they will have…It’s good that [God] didn’t tell me the road, because I would’ve never chose it. Now - [I’m] very thankful that [I] passed it. Because I have learned so much!…The only time you really get close to God & learn the Word of God is through fire & through trials & through the valleys. There’s no.other.way. 

   TFM: Who was your biggest supporter when you started out? And even today. Have they changed, people who support you?

   AK: I don’t have a person [who] encouraged me. What encouraged me to keep on going were [my] Monday night prayers. I went through some serious valleys…serious darkness. And every believer would go through that…the desert. That’s just part of every believer’s life. I’d lay in bed, not wanting to live, asking God to take me, begging God to take this business away. I wanted nothing to do with it. I asked Him so many times! I was just…not mature. The pain & the agony - I’d really scream out…Forget the scream, groan. The deepest pain that there ever is in life. I had no words to pray…I had those moments many times. But those were birth pains…when God wanted to take me to the next level…Who was my biggest supporter? It was just prayer…There were a lot of people [who] were praying for this company, [who] are still praying…because of the blessings that they have received from [it]. Ministers, pastors, preachers, widows, orphans…I don’t even know those people. I don’t keep track…[These are] the seeds that [I] planted by helping somebody out. 

   TFM: Did you have people who you looked up to?

   AK: The only people [who] I really looked up to or [who] really shaped my life were preachers. Adrian Roger…Derek Prince…Leonard Ravenhill. Those were three ministers [who] really shaped me as a believer to [help me] apply Biblical principals to business.

   TFM: How did you come up with the name?

   AK: It wasn’t a lot of thought…when I started the business in 2006, it started out with “Alex’s Affordable Remodeling”…I realized that this company [was] going to grow & I didn’t want it to [have] a small immigrant name or little pop shop. So, I wanted something…bigger. My brother… came up with that name “Home Evolution”, so I called him & [asked] “hey, can I use that name?!”. He said: “Sure!”. If I had another choice, I’d probably call it “Home Solution”. But it is what it is. 

   TFM: Do you think it’s symbolic to Alex’s evolution?

   AK: Oh yeah!…Evolution itself…it just means “change”. In reality, it’s a great name for the company. Because God took a man with nothing, with no equity, [no investment], pretty much I had nothing…I just had a 1994 Chevy pickup truck. And it was old & it was all that I had…God took nothing & brought us where we are right now. 

   Reminiscing about his old truck brought a genuine smile to his face. He slowed down his speech & smiled. I could feel that his heart got warm after he mentioned the memories of the beginning, of the simple times, of those few things he had.

   TFM: What [personality] trait do you have as a person, which can be a stumbling block for you in your business, in life, in your faith? 

   AK: I had a lot of personality traits that the Lord has been working on…One of my biggest ones was self-reliance. I was believing God as long as I was healthy…And God exposed that…And then I repented. And I said “Lord, even if you take me out of this business, you’ll put somebody else in it & You will do [with the business] what it’s supposed to do”…Let it be somebody else! Let Your name be glorified! That’s all that matters [to] me. Because I know that You will never forsake me…In a family of 10 kids, I always worked very hard…I’m the hardest working kid in our whole family of 10! And everyone can [agree with] that…Because of being a hard worker & because of getting places…you start giving yourself the credit & you start thinking “wow, it’s me!”. 

   After trying for a while to grow the company on his own, he realized that he was the one stopping it from growing. “I was micromanaging. I wasn’t able to trust people.” But God showed Alex that He was the one who made things grow & He didn’t need help from Alex to do that. “Did you build any of that? No. It all got done without you! Guess what? There are a lot of smart people besides you”, he recalls a conversation he had with God. He calls it “a big eye-opener”. After that point he started to “delegate more responsibility to people”. He had to learn to trust others. He says that the owner who “wants to do everything & he doesn’t trust anybody” can prevent the business from growing. 

   Alex also has plans for the future that go beyond business. “I believe that God will bring me to a place, where [I’ll be] reaching souls”, he explains. He will be using the wisdom that God has shown him through the business: “If you want to reach people, you have to know how to work with people.” And use the experience he’s had with his workers & apply it to future messages:“I used to think  - what can I preach to these people? I already said so many different messages”. Well, guess what? You can preach the same messages…Because you eat the same bread every day. You drink the same water every day…The same thing with the Bible - the same verses you can listen 10,000 times a day & they still have power…God’s Word has life & power…We all need motivation, we all need reminders…You can preach the Gospel, same messages, but as long as it’s from the heart, filled [with] the Holy Spirit…& people will never get [tired] of it…I can preach about the love of God over & over!…Everybody knows [about it]. But every time you preach it, it’s like eating that fresh bread that was [just] cooked.” He calls his business “a training ground’ for future ministry. He believes that a time will come, when the business will be able to go on on its own, when he could “take off a half a year if I have to”. He wants to give himself “fully to ministry…to the Word, to prayer, to teaching”. He realized that in order to be successful in business “your whole heart has to be in it”. 

   TFM: What advice can you give to someone, who is trying to get into construction, roofing, business? 

   AK: If somebody is looking to start a business…that’s a big answer. I can go on for hours. 

   TFM: The biggest advice!

   AK: The biggest advice will be answered in one little verse in the Bible. [Matthew 6:33] First seek the kingdom of God & His righteousness & all these things shall l be added onto you.  

   TFM: Amen.

   AK: That’s as simple as you can put it. When you put God first, then you’re going to do the will of God. And when you do the will of God, you’ll always be successful. But if you will not put God first, you’re gonna do your own will. And you’re going to hurt yourself & the things that you thought [would] bring you joy, [will] bring you misery…Business can be a miserable thing. Money can be a miserable thing…Don’t think that money [will] take worry away.

   Alex sums up the most valuable lessons he has learned: “If you want that abundance…follow the Scripture. Don’t be anxious. Do not fear. Trust in the Lord. And just have faith that He will provide. And thank Him”. He adds that these lessons are more valuable to him than “gold & silver”, than anything money can give. 

   Alex talks about how much his hard experiences have changed his perception on life: “I enjoy life so much more…And it’s not [about] materialistic things, but is because of those lessons [God has taught me]. You learn how not to be anxious…not to be afraid…not to worry…not to hold grudges…to give grace to people…how to work with people…so many valuable things! It gives richness in life”. He then talks about one of the most important lessons God is teaching him right now: “He’s teaching me the joy of helping your fellow brother. I’ve never seen joy in it [before].” When he would read Scriptures on loving others, he didn’t understand them & was burdened by them. He worried, like many of us, about being taken advantage of. Once God did the work on Alex’s heart & he experienced peace, then he was able to share that joy with others. “Now you want other people to experience the joy that you have in your heart. Realistically, you can never love somebody until you really learn to love yourself”.

   TFM: What is success to you?

   AK: It’s very easy. You know you’re successful, when you have a peace of God in your heart…there’s nothing greater than that. 

   TFM: You can’t buy that.

   AK: The reason why people want to be [in business]…because they want to find rest for their souls. They think - if I can make enough money, I can rest & retire. Bologna! Go talk to the richest people without Christ! A lot of them [are suicidal]…That’s what the devil paints to people…“There’s no peace to the wicked!”, says my Lord…True success is a peace of God in your heart. You’re the richest man in the world!

   No matter if you are business owner, successful or not, or you are thinking of becoming one, or know someone who is, I highly recommend reading this interview again. Read & learn from someone who has suffered much & came out into the light out of darkness. There are valuable lessons, testimonies & advice that you own’t get anywhere else, besides from other successful Christian business owners, like Alex. His story is full of turns, ups & downs, misery &, in the end, joy. It is an encouragement to those in business & those who are not; to anyone on a journey of faith. 

   To learn more about Home Evolution & the services the company provides, click here.

   (Fun fact: the name “Preacher on the Roof” came to me after this interview. Alex is an owner of a roofing company & he is also clearly a preacher. It is synonymous with the name “Fiddler on the Roof”, one of the longest-running Broadway shows in history. The character Tevye is a father, who works hard on maintaining his Jewish traditions, overcoming many obstacles in his life inside & outside his house. It reminded me of what Alex has shared with me & all the life’s challenges he had to face to get to where he is today.)