When her husband’s commercial real estate development business began to suffer in the late 1980s, Laura K.T. Schriver was concerned for the well-being of her family.
“I had three kids about to go to college, a house and a very nice living,” Schriver says. “I had to think, me, my Savior and I, what was I going to do? I don’t have a college education, so I couldn’t fall back on my credentials. It was either I was going to open a catering business or I was going to do something with language.”
While she was trying to decide how to employ one or both of her loves, Schriver, a native of Buenos Aires who is fluent in Spanish, was called by a district attorney’s office to interpret for a case. She then received a call from Immigration and Nationalization Services asking if she could recommend a Mandarin interpreter. Immediately she recognized an opportunity and jumped on it. Schriver installed a phone line and set up her kitchen counter as an office and began to recruit and deploy interpreters for clients requesting them.
More than 20 years later, Schriver is leading a business with more than 150 employees and roughly 5,000 independently contracted global linguists. Whether it’s interpreting the spoken word or translating the written word, the company offers services for more than 200 languages.
“The entire company is open to ideas and we listen to them all,” says Schriver, Language Services Associates’ founder, chairman and CEO. “With our IT department, we dream it, and they create it. That’s the best part of knowing that you have these people who are true creators.”
Don’t limit yourself
Technology is at the core of everything that LSA does, and Schriver says her employees are trained that very little, if anything, is impossible.
“We don’t limit our client to the product that we have as is,” Schriver says. “We create a product that will completely take care of the client’s needs. If we don’t have it, we make it. Most of our software is proprietary, with the exception of the standard document, word processing and design products.”
In addition to face-to-face interpretation and text translation, LSA also offers telephonic interpretation services. With Interpretalk, LSA’s clients can access a live telephonic interpreter in less than 30 seconds.
The company continues to enhance its video remote, text translation, American Sign Language and language assessment services.
LSA also continues to find a market in the prison industry by addressing cultural language differences that may arise.
“Hispanics in particular carry two last names,” Schriver says. “So you have Jorge Fernandez-Lopez. They would go out and say, ‘Mr. Lopez?’ And none of them answer because the first last name is the legal last name. It’s Mr. Fernandez. Lopez would be his mother’s maiden name. And people in the United States don’t generally know that.”
Ready to serve
Schriver’s challenge is to stay ahead of the curve and be ready when languages that have not required her services in the past become more prominent. It’s not always easy to match up an independent contractor with the right language and need.
“We not only clear the credentials of all prospective linguists before adding them to our network, but we also put them through LSA’s rigorous verification and qualification process to demonstrate competency in spoken language conversion,” she says. “This allows us to see who the people are that we want to partner with, and who can represent our company in an interpretation situation the best. You really have to search high and low.”
How to reach: Language Services Associates, (800) 305-9673 or www.lsaweb.com