Is it really 22 years ago that I launched AST? It’s been an exciting ride so far and there’s no sign of things quietening down yet.
Back in the late 1990s we were a small specialist provider of German to English translations to German and Swiss banks and multinationals.
We’ve moved on a bit since then but thanks to many loyal clients (some of whom have been with us from the beginning) and fantastic staff and translators we’re still very much in business.
The Swiss theme has been very important for the subsequent evolution of the company because with their four national languages the Swiss are perhaps Europe’s most natural and discerning linguists. As well as being a country of linguists, Switzerland punches way above its weight and size in economic terms. In order to maximise the opportunities I could see there, we had to provide a tailor-made translation service to almost every customer. This involved creating business processes that enabled clients to select their preferred translators from a shortlist we’d carefully compiled for them, and then to request the same translator for similar projects in future. The translators were encouraged to become as familiar with the client’s business as possible, since an understanding of context (for example content purpose, author, department, industry sector, etc.) gave them an enormous advantage compared with the traditional approach of keeping translators in silos and making them work in a vacuum.
Over 20 years later these principles and processes are now second-nature to us. Our translators are still very carefully selected and an understanding of context remains central to every translation project we carry out.
Many of those original clients have stayed loyal to us ever since. In addition we have built successful long-term relationships with many large UK companies and SME exporters, and have moved the company into new client sectors such as high-end engineering, industrial software, banking compliance & HR, consumer/e-commerce websites, e-learning courses to name but a few.
The translations sector is under the same productivity pressures as every other business sector, and we could have gone down the route of automation and adoption of a “one size fits all” approach. Of course we’ve had to continually improve our processes, but I’ve made a point of sticking to our guns. We’ve retained and built on our original ethos of spending time to get to know the client, choosing the right translators for the project, and ensuring that understanding of context is still fundamental to our tailor-made service.
I now have 15 colleagues comprising a mixture of in-house translators and customer support personnel. Working in a successful translation business is a pretty “full-on” experience even at quieter times, but I’m very proud to say that my colleagues handle the challenges with cool heads, dedication and absolute professionalism.
In 2010 I appointed Michael Thomas as Non-Executive Director and strategy adviser at AST. I have known Michael for many years and value highly his pragmatic business approach and sound judgement (read his biog below).
In this age of algorithms and “big data”, it is sometimes easy to overlook the human factor in any business relationship. My business philosophy has always been to strive to build long-term relationships based on trust. I believe there is more to doing business than mere transactions. What our clients are looking for is a buying experience that will reassure them that we truly have their interests at heart.
Thank you for taking the time to visit our website and read my intro. I hope it has reassured you that working with AST as your translation partner will prove to be a sound business decision.
As you can see we strive to be the best at what we do and as part of this I welcome any feedback you can give about our service, or any suggestions you can make to help improve it further.
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