It is hard to believe but March 1st marked the beginning of my 24th year of service at Argo Translation. Looking back, I suppose there was a fair amount of risk in launching Argo Translation back in 1995. I was 23 years old, recently graduated from college and generally not qualified to start a business. But the scene was set. The timing was perfect. The European Union’s Translation requirements were in place creating a ton of demand. I was a frustrated buyer of translation services at a medical device manufacturer. I put in my notice at Marquette Electronics, rented a small office in Shorewood, Wisconsin (just north of Milwaukee) and started Argo Translation with exactly 0 clients!

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The translation industry was really at a turning point. It was definitely a battle of the old industry vs. the new industry. The old industry was dominated by smaller firms and moonlighting freelancers who handled translation projects in their spare time. Deadlines, budgets, and technology did not play a huge role. The new industry was full of small firms hungry to bring technology and full-time attention to customers who needed someone to deal with the black magic surrounding translation management. It was a little mystical in those days. People were really unfamiliar with professional translation and what is required to properly take a highly formatted English document into multiple languages in a short period of time. All too often you would get a call that went sort of like this.

“Ah yes, this is Samantha from XYZ corporation. We design and manufacture a really technical {insert name of the machine here} and we would like to have the manual translated into Spanish. We had it translated by one of our employee’s cousins who studied Spanish in High School but for some reason, we have been getting complaints about the quality. Can you help?”

Yes, this actually happened, multiple times. People were generally unaware that if you needed a qualified technical writer to create a manual you would need someone with similar qualities to translate the manual!

The industry was booming. People were flailing to get projects completed on time and within some sort of budget. Translation firms were popping up everywhere! They were also going out of business at the same rate. It was really tough for buyers to choose firms that would provide consistent service over and over again.

In looking back, I was trying to think of the most important developments over the years that really had a major impact on the business; on me personally and on the industry. Here is the list I came up with:

  • Translation memory technology
  • Disk storage
  • Internet speeds
  • Machine translation
  • People

You can read a detailed description of these factors in part two of this post coming out next week.

There have been a lot of changes over the years but our commitment to our customers, employees, and partners remains intact. I would like to express my most sincere gratitude for all of the assistance and support we have received over the years. We have been very fortunate to handle over 42,000 projects and translate over 215 million words for clients. It is my hope that we have helped generate loads of revenue and increased the quality of connection with our customer’s clients and employees all over the globe. I am looking forward to the next few decades of service.

In honor of our 24 years of service, we would like to pledge $2,300 to charity:water, 100% of the money will be used to build clean water projects, and when they’re complete, charity: water will send us photos and GPS coordinates so we can see the exact community we helped. Feel free to contribute to our campaign at https://my.charitywater.org/argo-translation/argo-anniversary-campaign. The campaign ends in 85 days.

One last bit of history is a look back at our logos over the past 24 years.

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