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The ATC’s Member of the Month in October 2023 is Welsh Bla Translation, winner of the ATC Company of the Year Award, and a dedicated Welsh language champion.

We caught up with Bla Translation’s Founder and Director Alun Gruffydd and Business Development Officer and Senior Translator Anna Lewis to talk about supporting the talent of the future and growing a company with a strong local focus.

It’s about people and the talent of the future

Bla Translation is one of Wales’s largest language service companies celebrating 10 years in business in 2023. At the core of the company is its determination to support staff through professional and academic success.

Bla Translation’s team is strongly focused on translation, and nine of its eleven staff work as translators. Bla Translation hires both academically qualified professionals who can offer guidance and stability to the company, but it also purposefully attracts talented but less experienced individuals who demonstrate flair and a willingness to succeed. All of Bla’s staff are encouraged to pursue relevant academic and vocational qualifications which are all fully funded by the company – from translation MA degrees, finance and business management qualifications to membership of professional organisations such as the ITI  and, Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru, the Welsh Association of Translators and Interpreters.

A cycle of growth through new services

As Welsh translation specialists, Bla Translation supports its clients with content as diverse as national opera companies’ repertoires, supermarket straplines, and political issues relating to climate, gender identification and pandemics.

Many of Bla’s clients have come through word-of-mouth recommendations and, as a company, it has grown and become more visible as advocates of the Welsh language and the benefits of bilingualism in Wales, encouraging Welsh businesses to promote and use the Welsh language in their work.

“In the past few years, we have been through a steep learning curve in strengthening and speeding up our ability to offer subtitling, transcription and translation projects alongside our usual translation jobs, as these new services provide an ever increasing volume of projects for universities, colleges and business management providers focusing on multi-media and video communication. We are learning, but learning quickly here,” says Bla Translation’s Founder and Director Alun Gruffydd.

The economic climate has placed a great deal of pressure on the translation sector in Wales, the UK, and beyond, but it has also allowed savvy language service companies to extend their service offering. During Covid, Bla Translation’s turnover increased by 20% with large health and business contracts, and with a whopping 500% for audiovisual projects, with increasing volumes of work for universities, colleges and business management providers as they continue to focus on multi-media, video communication compared to the more face to face practices of pre-Covid times.

– and businesses

Although bilingualism in Wales is only mandatory within the public sector, through its strong presence in the local and national arena, Bla Translation has been able to pivot to tourism to support clients working hard to entice local audiences to make use of local attractions and amenities.

“Our home, Anglesey, is an island where economic prosperity and employment into skilled jobs are weak,” says Alun. “Bla Translation is proud to be able to be a strong employer on the island. The vast majority of our staff are Anglesey people, and it is vital to the company to offer employment to people who can sustain and develop the language in their sphere of work, but also to support the local business community in both providing them language support, and in using their services.”

Bla’s translation work within the third sector with several community interest groups has enabled the company to support local services from theatre to new occupational health referral schemes.

The role of Bla Translation’s new Business Development Officer role is an innovative one, attracting a large amount of new work from secondary schools in the area, completing new curriculum modules and policies. The new business development focus has also attracted large projects from other further education colleges in south Wales, a significant project from the religious sector in Wales, and local restaurants and large hotels.

Anna Lewis, Bla’s BDO and Senior Translator delights in the new business supporting the Welsh language: “Many of our new clients are private companies where the use of Welsh is a choice, not the law, but who have been encouraged by our approach and dialogue in seeing the benefits of bilingualism in their PR and marketing.”

And Bla Translation’s success has been extremely timely, as the company is preparing thoroughly to expand its provision to include other European languages into its portfolio. As Alun says, “We fully understand how difficult this development will be as we strive to be more visible on a European level; therefore the ATC Company of the Year Award has come at a perfect time as we aim to attract further business with the provision of other languages, without weakening or detracting of course from our core Welsh language business.”

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