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Natural Awakenings San Diego

Encinitas Foreign & Domestic Auto Repair

Oct 01, 2012 03:33PM ● By Erin Lehn Floresca

There are businesses that are located in a community, and then there are businesses that have weaved themselves into the fine tapestry of the community and help make it thrive. Encinitas Foreign & Domestic Auto Repair is one the latter. This eco-friendly, customer service oriented, 14-bay auto repair shop has been serving the Encinitas area since 1988.  The owners, Leo and Julie Macaluso, are a husband and wife team that live and breathe Encinitas. It is this commitment and passion for their hometown that helps makes their business such a success.

Take these examples for instance: On Thursdays and Fridays during the summer months, Julie brings batches of homemade gelato to the shop to treat their customers. “And it’s healthy too,” says Julie, noting that her recipe is low in sugar but high in delicious flavor. “Car Bucks™ is another way of saying thank you for choosing us. We spend less on advertising and direct this money back to our customers. Vehicles with our license plate frame enjoy a discount on their oil changes.” Their biggest way of giving back to the community is sponsoring youth sports. “Our office walls are adorned with team plaques we’ve collected over the past twenty-plus years,” she adds.

Since Encinitas is such a holistic-minded community, it is only natural that Leo and Julie would run an eco-friendly auto repair shop.  In fact, in 2009, they were the first Green Station certified auto repair facility in San Diego County. According to the pair, they read about a voluntary program being offered through the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) where auto repair facilities could be recognized as a “Green Station” after meeting certain DTSC requirements. When they saw the criteria to become Green Certified, “We realized that we already had a lot of those practices in place,” says Leo. “So we applied, got the list of things that needed to be attended to, and checked the rest of those things off of our list.” They switched all of their solvent-based cleaners to water-based, traded their waste dumpster for a recycle dumpster, and cut back on the number of aerosol cans they used. “And we upgraded some of our equipment like an efficient air compressor for the whole shop, the lighting fixtures and energy star monitors,” says Julie. Not only did these changes help the environment, but the upgrades helped them to more efficiently serve their customers.

Since part of their roof was retractable canopy, they replaced it and the rest of the roof with a massive 184 solar panel system.

But they didn’t stop there. In October, 2011, they became the first solar-powered auto repair facility in the area. “We were intrigued by the thought of being self-sufficient,” Leo explains, Encinitas Foreign and Domestic Auto“so the solar panels came next.” Since part of their roof was retractable canopy, they replaced it and the rest of the roof with a massive 184 solar panel system. “We are now producing more electricity than we are using,” affirms Julie. Since the solar panels were installed, the shop has produced 64.2 megawatt hours of electricity. Their carbon offset so far is an impressive 44.3 tons or the equivalent of four acres of trees. So what happens to the energy they aren’t using? “The excess energy goes back to the grid,” says Leo. While the shop gets a tiny kickback from the donated energy, Leo and Julie are more thrilled that they are able to produce so much energy that they are able to share it.

The shop also has a used oil collection facility and certified hybrid technicians on staff. And speaking of their staff, Leo and Julie couldn’t be more pleased with the people they work with. “Our technicians are real people,” says Leo, “very well-rounded, most of them have been employed here long-term, and they are all highly committed to customer service. Chad, our Parts Manager, will be celebrating his 20th anniversary with us this month! We have watched him get married and have two wonderful children. He is one of the most nurturing dads I know.”

Having a staff that feels like family and treats the customers the same way is important to Leo and Julie, since raving customer reviews is what they continually strive for. “We take our business personally,” says Leo. “We have a very large investment in people: our staff, our customers, our community.”

With such a high commitment to their customers, their community and the environment, it’s no wonder why so many people become customers for life.     

Encinitas Foreign & Domestic Auto Repair is located at 901 2nd St. in Encinitas. For more information call 760-632-0830 or visit