The company and its services: Coral Gables-based ProTranslating is a language company that provides a range of translation services to about 3,000 clients each year in the United States and overseas.
The family-owned firm provides written translations, simultaneous and consecutive interpretations, phone interpretations, voice-overs, subtitles, social media, marketing and advertising copy, plus other services. Most of its work involves written translations and interpreting assignments for businesses.
The firm translated 150 million words last year in 110 language combinations, using the skills of highly specialized professionals and computers. Any machine translations are reviewed and polished by humans.
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The firm works mainly in languages like English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese, and is capable of providing translation services in more than 200 languages.
“This is a very complicated business,” said CEO Luis R. de la Vega, who has worked in the family company since he was a child and joined as a full-time employee in 2005. “You’re dealing with grammar, syntax, flow, tone and voice, as well as different cultures and dialects.” The firm has 130 employees at its headquarters, 200 at other offices in the U.S. and overseas, and employs about 5,000 contractors all over the world. “On any given day, about 500 people are working on different projects,” the CEO said.
ProTranslating charges per word, per page or per project. The fee is 10 to 20 cents per word for common languages, and more for exotic tongues. The cost also depends on the quality of the original and the scope of the project. For example, ProTranslating will negotiate a fee for developing an advertising slogan or campaign.
Clients include large commercial enterprises, law firms, finance and insurance companies and other organizations, especially companies that want to expand to reach new customers either in the U.S. or overseas. Products may be legal documents, annual reports, training manuals, corporate videos, websites, ads and marketing campaigns for clients.
“We try to help our clients break into new markets and go global,” de la Vega said.
Getting started: “The genesis of our company is the ‘linguistic gene’ in my father’s family,” said de la Vega, son of founder Luis A. de la Vega, who started the company in Miami in 1973 and is still active managing the business. The elder de la Vega, who is fluent in nine languages, began working as a simultaneous translator in the county court system (Spanish-English), moved on to doing more simultaneous translations and written documents in English, Spanish and Creole, and expanded the business to commercial clients and other languages.
CEO de la Vega, who has a bachelor’s degree in business from Georgetown University and an MBA from the University of Miami, is fluent in English and Spanish. His great-grandfather was also a linguist, “but the linguistic gene skipped me,” he said. Some of the employees who started working with the senior de la Vega in the mid-1970s are still at ProTranslating.
The difference: The company hires the best professionals to do translations and carefully reviews each finished product. It also has developed its own technology platforms to increase efficiency and reduce time and costs. For example, it has memory databases and software that allow very fast translations of texts that have been translated before, ensuring consistent terminology. ProTranslating takes the time to ensure that the company understands exactly what each client needs and what market or audience it will be used for, de la Vega said.
Sales: The firm said its revenues were $20 million in 2015. Revenue is based on the volume of words translated, plus other related projects, and de la Vega said word volume has been rising steadily over the past five years.