Written by The Business Journal Staff
Owner & CEO
Education: Master degree in law
Family: Wife Cristina Foanene, Master Degree in Business Administration, Daughter Stephanie Foanene, 17 years old
WHAT WE DO: MCS Glass was established in August 2006 as a glazing contractor and is a certified dealer for Milgard windows and doors. Notably, MCS is the only dealer providing a showroom for Marvin Windows and Doors in the Fresno area. Installers are AAMA (American Architectural Manufacturers Association) certified and provide high quality, custom window and door installations. MCS also installs frameless custom showers, framed custom mirrors and multi-slide or bi-fold doors.
How is business these days?
MCS is heavily in the commercial business and in the last few years has successfully completed storefront projects for companies such as CVS, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Modern Fab, and PG&E in Fresno. We have also completed Towne Places Suites and Home2Suites in Fresno, Elk Grove, Patterson and Hanford, plus Waste Management in San Leandro and Camp Chawanakee near Shaver Lake.
This past year MCS was awarded two of the largest commercial glass projects in the area: the new Hyatt Place Hotel on north Fresno Street (still under construction) and the new Haron Jaguar Dealership (and Range Rover) in Downtown Fresno. These large jobs often present new and exciting challenges in sophisticated high-end glasswork but MCS is proud to showcase the quality of work well done.
What could you tell us about growing up in Romania?
The experience of growing up in Romania was much different when we were kids than it is now. Romania was a communist/socialist country until 1989, so we definitely did not have access to what children have growing up there today. As I grew older, I would often think of America and it ultimately became my dream to move to United States. As a young man I was so blessed to meet Cristina, my wife, who supported every step and who helped me make my dream a reality. Our parents and grandparents and many friends are still there and we speak with them often.
How was it moving from one country to another to start a new business? Was the process easy?
To move to the United States was very challenging. For us, it started with securing an “investor visa” so we could enter the country legally. Never did we consider trying to enter the USA illegally. A qualification to be approved for the investor visa was that you must open a business with people on payroll and prove that you would be successful. You can only imagine how hard it was for us at that time! We did not speak any English, we knew almost no one, the economy wasn’t at its best, construction was off, and everything was difficult. It was all so new for us, even though I had had a similar type of business in Romania on a much different scale. We had to learn how to measure in inches — the Romanian system was all metric. We learned how to read plans and order materials. I remember when suppliers would call with questions about orders we had sent. My wife would get so nervous because she was afraid that she might not understand what their problem with the order might be. Even the smallest of items we had to experience and learn. The difficulty was always compounded by being in a new country, with a new culture, a new language, new construction codes and so on.
But with God’s help we persevered and worked very hard to overcome any and all obstacles! After 13 years I am so proud of my wife and all of her help. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished. I would not have been able to do what we have without her dedication and support. With a lot of challenges, hard work, tears and more, we are now fully acclimated to our lives in America and we love the experience of being in this great place.
How does living and working in the Central Valley compare to Romania? What do you miss about Romania?
Romania is a beautiful country with a proud culture and we are proud to be Romanians, but we consider ourselves so blessed to live in a country like the United States of America. We moved to the US when I was 31 years old and my wife was 28 and it wasn’t easy at all. I had my own company and my wife was working for the police department there, so we had a relatively good life back in Romania. But when we first came here, it was as if it all disappeared and we had nothing! Our daughter Stephanie was 6 years old when we moved here, she could not speak a word of English and things were not easy for her at all. It was very difficult for her as few to no one in her school or her friends spoke a word of Romanian. No one knew us in business so we had to work extra hard to eventually build good business relationships. Well known contractors to whom we are thankful include Granville Homes, Construction Developers, Ginder Development, Concord Development, Span Construction, Don Pickett, Pickett and Sons and many more. All ultimately gave us opportunity and we are forever grateful. The USA is now our home, even though we definitely miss our families, our good friends and also the delicious Romanian food. It is our heritage and there is so much that we love about its culture.
What do you like to do on your free time?
Having free time is one thing I forgot to mention that I miss about living in Romania. There we had no shortage of free time! At this time, we still don’t have too much free time here since we work such long hours and so many weekends. Working together with my wife, we are together continually and so much of the time every day we are focusing on and discussing our business. It often bothers our daughter Stephanie and we hope that in time we will have a lot more free time and leisure. We have taken some extra time off and have gone back to visit our hometown in Romania to spend great time with our families.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
My first job in Romania was as a lawyer for the city and I learned that I wanted more than that, so I quit my job and borrowed some money from my mother in law and opened my own glazing company. My wife wasn’t very excited because she knew that for a while it will be hard, but I met the right people and I was able to build a successful business that I sold before we moved here.