Business Profile | Ralph Strozza

May 2015 View more

Ralph Strozza, CEO of Interpro Translation Solutions, for Naperville Magazine

Lisle-based Interpro Translation Solutions is a multi-language translation service that started out translating software and documents for companies and has now expanded to include e-commerce, websites, and mobile apps. Naperville Magazine spoke with founder and CEO Ralph Strozza about the company’s growing demand in a rapidly evolving global marketplace.

Interpro recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary. Since founding the company in 1995, what has been the biggest change your company has seen?  

I would have to say that advances in technology—and especially the Internet—have constituted the biggest overall change that we’ve seen since starting business in March 1995. More than ever, people are using their mobile devices to search the web, which has brought more traffic to our app localization services. Due to the increase in technology use, the demand for a translation company that can truly customize its services to reflect the needs of its client base has similarly increased, whether those needs are for e-commerce localization, e-learning localization, dynamic website localization, or something else.

How has technology changed the way you do business?

We now have instantaneous, worldwide communications as well as a global platform for doing business, which we call the Internet. Whereas in 1995, communications were still primarily telephone and faxed based, we have replaced that with email, Skype messaging, and of course the whole array of social network outlets that allow us to interact and share information almost anywhere in the world. That information can consist of pictures, video, and practically any type of content that you can imagine. I remember very early on how excited we got when we were able to electronically send a document to one of our translators working off-site, saving us a trip to the post office and the time lag it usually took before he would receive our diskette containing the file to be translated. Fast forward to 2015: sending and receiving information now occur immediately—it’s nothing to get excited about. 

Where do you see your biggest opportunity for growth?

Because of what has transpired over the past 20 years, we are no longer limited geographically to any one region of the world. We can reach anyone, anywhere, at any time by posting a message on our website, tweeting about something we would like to bring to our followers’ attention, or emailing a newsletter with information we want to share with our clients, partners, and prospects. What this all means is that instead of having to pound the pavement in the tri-state area, or the Midwest, we now view our target audience as anyone in the world who is connected to the Internet. That’s a much larger potential customer base, and creates a much larger potential for revenue growth. We just need to continue to try and focus on our “sweet spots” and stay on task.

How has this global marketplace impacted your business model?

From the services delivery perspective, it means that we have real-time access and communication with all of our translators, editors, and proofreaders who are working in the target language geographies. Obviously the global marketplace hasn’t eliminated time zones, but for at least part of each day (sometimes staying at the office late or arriving early) we are in one-on-one communication with the majority of our teams. From the marketing and sales perspective, we—like most companies with a web presence—are globally visible. A company in Beijing can search for “Mandarin e-learning localization services” and find us among the results. Before the global marketplace was a reality, this type of exposure was almost impossible to achieve. We now have access to anywhere in the world where we would like to market and sell our services. Of course, this means that we have to truly think globally and we spend a lot of time and effort on keeping our multilingual website current and relevant for our target audience.

Is there one particular language that is in more demand for your translation services than other languages?

If you figured that Spanish would be the number one language in terms of volumes of words translated, you would be right. However, if you thought that Chinese would be a close second, you’d be wrong! For the past two years, English to Spanish translation has accounted for 14 percent of our total project volume. The second highest language by volume is Russian (9.6 percent), followed by German (9.3 percent) and then Chinese and French (both 8 percent). These numbers reflect only the projects we work on for our clients. 

What motivates you to start your day?

I know it sounds like a cliché, but it happens to be the truth: I absolutely love what I do. Interpro enables me to combine my passion for foreign languages and cultures, technology, and entrepreneurship on a daily basis. I love the challenges of solving problems for our clients, and our worldwide network of linguistic resources means that I’ve got close friends on six continents. I am so thankful I’m not stuck in a position where I have to watch the clock slowly tick away the minutes of the day. 

How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I enjoy spending time with my family and Tyson, our black Lab. I really enjoy working in the yard and tending to our garden. Being Italian, that of course means tomatoes, Melrose peppers, basil, eggplant, parsley, and rosemary. For our Mexican friends we always throw in some habaneros and jalapeños as well. We barbecue a lot when the weather is nice, and like to relax with some adult beverages, good food, and good friends on the deck. During Bears season, the games take priority over everything else! My needs are actually quite simple, so after a long workweek, sometimes just a nice dinner followed by reading or watching an old movie does the trick.

Photo by Mike Hudson