“When a translator comes to us and tells us he or she can translate anything, we are always hesitant,” says Terry Davis, the CEO of the Canadian retailer Home Hardware Stores. Mr. Davis knows a thing or two about translation since the 6-billion-dollar company he manages frequently translates materials from English into French and sometimes English into Mandarin for Toronto area stores.
On January 31st, 2018, Mr. Davis was the featured guest speaker at an Entrepreneurs Organization event held at the Home Hardware Store in Russell, a township next to Ottawa, Canada’s capital. He shared his insights on what makes successful translators with Huiping Zhang, owner of s wintranslation, an Ottawa-based translation company, and member of the Entrepreneurs Organization.
“In our business, whether it is hardware or legal terms, we have different translators for each of these areas since each one requires a different area of expertise,” said Mr. Davis. His sentiment is echoed by other frequent buyers of translation services. For example, in major Canadian banks, finance and investment are considered two different areas, each of which requires different specialized translators.
“Our specialization is managing multilingual projects for simultaneous delivery in as many as forty languages at once,” says Zhang of wintranslation. “We help translators get to the words that need to be translated so they can focus on being wordsmiths. In today’s fast-moving world, content comes in many different formats – in Tweets, WeChat messages, in specialized content management systems. Our job is to save our client time and enable translators to do what they do best – translating – while we handle the rest.”
Specialization in the translation industry comes in many forms. Some companies specialize in a specific language (such as Canadian French) or family of languages (think Scandinavian). Some specialize in servicing the government. In Canada, the Translation Bureau is one of the largest buyers of translation services. Many translation companies in Canada specialize in selling to the Translation Bureau and other government departments. More than ever, having a niche and specialization is the key to survival and growth.