ForeignExchange translates Web for world

Managing Editor

LOUISVILLE – Web sites that speak only one language are dead in the seven seas.

And those that speak more than one language don’t want to get lost in the transl

ation as they charge into the world marketplace via the Internet.

English is the language used most on the Internet, and Japanese is the second-mo

st popular, with more than 19 million users. Companies from Yahoo! to IBM to Lan

d’s End have all deployed Web sites with Japanese as an option.

Companies trying to grow their shares of the world market are compelled to offer

Web sites in multiple languages, ranging from Arabic to Vietnamese. But it’s no

easy task, and while many companies maintain Web sites in-house, they’ll hire s

omeone else to handle translations.

ForeignExchange Translations Inc., headquartered in Providence, R.I., has opened

an operations center in Louisville where it will translate Web site and softwar

e content into 32 languages. It’s competing against a half dozen companies in th

e Denver/Boulder area that provide the same service.

The center is in a 1,000-square-foot suite at Christopher Village, 1017 S. Bould

er Road. Sonia Monahan, vice president of operations at ForeignExchange, is one

of three employees in the office now, but she expects to employ about 20 project

managers, engineers, product specialists and translators within the year, and 5

0 more within two years. “The potential market is huge,” she said. About 12 empl

oyees of the 2-year-old corporation, including founder Andres Heuberger, handle

the financial, marketing and administrative tasks in Providence.

Companies like ForeignExchange offer their clients expertise in what is called “

localizing” a Web site – understanding cultural preferences, date formats, curre

ncy, slang and even the bandwidth capabilities of the intended audience. “Viewer

s won’t spend much time at a Web site that doesn’t fit their culture,” Monahan s


Monahan has eight years of experience in the localization industry. She left com

petitor Lionbridge Technologies, which has offices in Europe, Asia and North Ame

rica, including Boulder. At ForeignExchange, she’ll manage the company’s major a

ccounts, as well as its project-management and production teams.

ForeignExchange chose Louisville for its operation center because it provides ac

cess to technical talent in Denver, Boulder and Longmont, and is an ideal base f

rom which to support clients on the West Coast, Monahan said.

ForeignExchange’s clients include Fortune 500 companies H&R Block, Guidant, Beck

man Coulter and Victoria’s Secret. Tax-return kingpin H&R Block wants its Web si

te to be available in Spanish as well as English, targeting the Spanish-speaking

taxpayer working in America. Medical equipment and supply companies Guidant, Be

ckman Coulter and Medrad have all asked ForeignExchange to help them overcome th

e language barrier.

Monahan said ForeignExchange’s client list includes businesses in the telecommun

ications, financial and automotive industries, as well. “We support companies th

at require precise translations and a Web site that accurately conveys a target

country’s culture,” she said.

The operations center in Louisville taps the globe for its translators. ForeignE

xchange maintains a database of about 1,200 translators who are hired on a contr

act-basis – generally 5 cents to 15 cents per word – and who live throughout the

world. “We prefer to use an in-country translator and editor,” Monahan said. “I

t goes a long way toward eliminating errors and making sure the content is cultu

rally correct.”

Translation services are based on the company’s Multilingual Compliance Process,

which produces translated products. A feedback system provides businesses with

a way to check the effectiveness and correctness of the translations.