Laura K.T. Schriver did not have a vision for Language Services Associates when she launched the business in 1991. She felt strongly about the opportunity that the company offered its customers to eliminate communication barriers, but that wasn’t what was motivating her to start the company.
Her more immediate concern was the well-being of her family.
“My husband was in commercial real estate development and the industry kind of went belly up,” Schriver says. “I had three kids about to go to college, a house and a very nice living. 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.”
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, the company’s founder, president 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 suffice and take care of the client’s needs. If we don’t have it, we make it. We never buy outside software from anybody. All our software is our own.”
In addition to face-to-face interpretation and text translation, LSA continues to expand its service capacity. Interpretalk allows anyone to get instant telephone interpreting services from anywhere in the world.
“Say you’re in Paris and you want to tell your cab driver, ‘Please take me to the Eiffel Tower,’ but you don’t know how to say it,” Schriver says. “You push the app and the interpreter tells the cabbie, ‘Take this man to the Eiffel Tower.’ The cost of having an escort interpreter go with you to all of those places is gone. It’s obsolete.”
LSA is developing a robot that will walk with a client and provide instant interpretive services wherever they need. The company continues to enhance its video remote, text translation and American Sign Language 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.
“You have to clear their credentials to see who the people are that you want and who can represent your company in an interpretation situation the best,” Schriver says. “You really have to search high and low.”
How to reach: Language Services Associates,
(800) 305-9673 or www.lsaweb.com