Ranked among the top 20 Language Service Providers in Asia by Common Sense Advisory this year, EQHO Communications Ltd. is capitalizing on a rapid increase in demand for localization solutions in emerging markets.
With the rise of emerging markets, global companies are expanding in Asia more than ever before. To reach the markets effectively, companies need not only business knowledge but also communications that are suitable for local markets.
EQHO Communications Ltd. was established in 1996 by six Swedish entrepreneurs. Among the investors, Per Taube and Tomas Julin are the company’s biggest shareholders.
“Demand in the region has increased rapidly and it’s clearly happening here too. One of the main reasons that we opened an office in Thailand is due to the accessibility to well-educated and competent staff,” says Tomas, the chairman of EQHO.
Per Taube’s main business is real estate development. He has invested in a number of property projects, including the notable “Airport City” project near the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport. Tomas Julin is from a telecommunication business background where he has been involved in a startup of mobile operators in over 15 countries worldwide.
The two partners met in Sweden and co-invested in many businesses together. With their extensive experience in international business, the partners believe that localization is vital for successful business communications.
“In clear simple terms, localization is adapting to local markets. For communications, the main part of localization is done based on literalism. Translation is, however, a small part of it because localization takes into account cultural angles, local practices and environments”, says Tomas. “It is a sophisticated business,” he adds.
“Most companies don’t want their words literally translated from a set of words in English to an equivalent set of words in another language. They want more than that. They need a different version that is suitable for the local audience,” explains Steven Bussey, Marketing Manager of EQHO.
EQHO provides a comprehensive range of translation and localization solutions in over 50 languages with a strong focus on Asian languages. In addition to fully integrated documentation, software, website and multimedia localization solutions, stand-alone services also include localization engineering, desktop publishing, audio dubbing, subtitling, close captioning, multimedia engineering and localized product testing.
The company is well respected in the language services industry as a key supplier to many US and European based localization vendors and was recently ranked among Asia’s Top 20 Language Service Providers (LSPs) by Common Sense Advisory. It is, in fact, the first ever Thailand-based LSP to be ranked by Common Sense Advisory.
EQHO’s growth can be attributed to many factors including a rapid increase in demand for Southeast Asian language services, the geographical location of the company, and competency of its staff in providing high quality services.
With office space of 700 square metres , the company employs 78 full-time staff of ten different nationalities to work in seven departments; Project Management, Resource Management, Audio & Multimedia, Desktop Publishing, Engineering & IT, Quality Assurance, and Account Management.
“Only about eight of the 78 staff works in linguistics. Many are project managers, technical engineers or work in other ancillary localization roles. The operation requires software and computer-assisted translation tools to help maintain the high quality it provides. But, we don’t use computers to translate or to localize, rather we use them to assist,” says Ross Edwin Klinger, Chief Executive Officer of EQHO. “Each product is translated, edited and reviewed by our network of in-country linguists to ensure perfect grammar and style suitable for the locale and then our engineers will convert back to the original formats for delivery to our clients. The key is to make sure that the reader feels that the language was written in their language from the beginning”.
Ross adds that the company uses ‘translation memory’ software to maintain all of the work done for each client, meaning that if a similar kind of work is requested by the same client, the price tends to reduce because the previous work can in effect be ‘recycled’.
Located in the heart of Bangkok, the company also takes advantage of a large expat community to recruit professional voice talents to provide audio services.
High profile clients
EQHO’s clients come from a wide range of industries and include many of the world’s largest corporations such as Pfizer, P&G, Nestle, Microsoft, IBM, Siemens, Hitachi, Air France, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, in addition to Scandinavian corporations such as MAERSK and IKEA.
“We have about 500-600 active clients worldwide. You can pick virtually any industry, and I’m sure we work for leading companies within that industry. If the company is in the top 50 in the world, we probably work for them or at least have done at some point,” says Ross.
Though the company has systematic processes in dealing with all clients’ work and requests, Ross says that in reality it sometimes faces a challenge in negotiating with customers who want perfect quality ‘yesterday’ or in the shortest time frame at the lowest possible price.
Supporter of social projects
Beyond the company’s aim to maximize profits, EQHO believes that communication is a medium for helping people understand each other and get closer together. Thus, the company supports social projects of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) such as Translators without Borders and The Media Alliance.
Since the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Translators without Borders has provided humanitarian translations to aid groups working in the country and to other NGOs working across the globe in disaster relief, healthcare and education.
EQHO is a bronze sponsor of Translators without Borders, meaning that the company provides both financial support through a subscription fee and service support by offering Thai translation when it is required.
For The Media Alliance, the company supplies media localization solutions at reduced prices for the production of ‘Redraw the Line’, a campaign aiming to spark peoples’ concerns over climate change and environmental issues.
“If you are in a business, you can buy our services. But if you are not in a business and simply trying to help others, then we want to help you help them. We feel good about it,” says Ross.
On top of the two projects it supports, EQHO provides localization/translation classes at Chulalongkorn University and the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).
“We help develop curriculum for the Master’s Degree in Translation and Interpretation at the universities. Our staff teaches a number of courses including the Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) Tool class,” says Ms. Phanitanan Thomopson, Chief Operating Officer at EQHO.
According to Phanitanan, EQHO provides qualified professors to help broaden visions of students in areas where translation has linked with science, localization, and communications in various media.
With the opening up of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, the company foresees significant growth in demand for language solutions throughout the region.
“This is a great business opportunity for us since we are located in the heart of ASEAN. Asia is the only region that is growing and still has forecasted growth for the next 3-4 years,” says Tomas.
In response to an increased demand in the region, the company is expanding into Laos where a new office in Vientiane will be open for operation in the last quarter of this year. The company is also looking to expand its operation in Cambodia and Myanmar in the near future.
“We will have a huge presence in this region. We want to move up in the top 20 list,” says Tomas.
As part of the Swedish management values, Tomas says that the company’s concerns are not only about the monetary value of the business but also the wellbeing of its employees.
“We have invested a lot of money in this business and we are happy that the company is doing very well today,” says Tomas.