Ralph Foglein: A European Perspective
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
SUNNYVALE — It’s fitting that Ralph Foglein’s auto repair business is called European Auto Works—after all, he’s originally from Europe. “I was born in Hungary and emigrated to the United States with my parents when I was seven years old,” he says. “I’ve always loved cars and decided to pursue automotive work as a career when I was a teenager. I took every auto shop course in high school and went through the automotive program at De Anza College before entering the professional field.”
At some point along the way, Ralph decided to set his professional focus on repairing German cars like Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. “One thing I never liked about domestic cars was how difficult it was to access things,” he says. “The first time I worked on a German car, I was blown away by the attention to detail and the straightforward way everything was laid out. Eventually, I grew to enjoy working on German cars so much that I decided to specialize in them.”
Today, Ralph says his favorite part of his job is its perpetual novelty. “In this business, every day brings something different, so we always have new challenges. That really helps keep things interesting—it’s never the same story.”
A resident of Mountain View, Ralph expresses his appreciation for life in the Bay Area. “My favorite part about living in the Bay Area is there are a lot of educated, intelligent people, which makes for a great environment. Of course, I also love the weather. Before coming to the Bay Area, my family lived in Washington, and after moving here, I could sense an improvement in my mood due to the increased sunshine.”
Outside of work, Ralph engages in a variety of active pastimes, typically in the company of his wife, Susan, and their two children. “My favorite activity is going to the beach with my family,” he affirms. “I’m also a pilot and I own a plane, so I like flying my family to different areas of Northern California, like Mammoth Mountain. It’s much faster to travel by plane, so that opens up a lot of adventure opportunities for us.”
In his life and career, Ralph espouses a simple philosophy. “No matter what you do, it’s important to do it right,” he asserts. “That’s why I’ve put so much time and energy into learning about automotive work, starting from when I was a teenager. Of course, in order to invest that amount of time and energy, you have to be pretty passionate about what you’re doing, so that’s important, too.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Ralph says he’d take a long vacation. “I haven’t been back to Hungary since I left in 1971, so I’d probably take a trip to Europe. And we’re talking about a long trip—maybe a couple of months. That may not be very long for some people, but it certainly would be for me.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: Over easy eggs and toast.
Q: If you could immediately master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The guitar.
Q: What’s your dream car?
A: A Pagani—that car is a work of art.
Q: If you could talk to any person living or dead, who would it be?
Read moreRead less
A: My father, who passed away a few years ago.