Spokane Journal of Business

Glyph Language Services grows here

Employment at Glyph more than triples as sales jump nearly 60 percent

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Glyph Language Services grows here
-—Staff photo by Jessica Valencia
Casey Charlton of Glyph Language Services says the company employs about 30 people at its downtown Spokane office.

Glyph Language Services Inc., a 12-year-old, Spokane-based company that provides translation, teaching, and consulting services for businesses and government agencies, says it has more than tripled its staff size and has increased its sales by more than 50 percent during the past year, a trend it hopes to see continue this year.

Casey Charlton, senior vice president of business development at Glyph, says the company now has 44 employees, with roughly 30 based in the Spokane office, located in a 3,000-square-foot space at 123 S. Wall downtown. That's up from 13 people companywide in 2011.

He says Glyph anticipates it will hire additional people on as contract staff this year. Glyph uses between 200 and 300 freelancers a week depending on the number of projects it's involved in.

About 30 percent of the current full-time staff started working with Glyph on a contract basis, he says.

Charlton says Glyph was up 57 percent in total revenue last year from 2011, and it projects its revenue will rise another 23 percent this year.

"The volume (of projects) we need to process increases the number of employees and freelancers," he says.

Charlton attributes the growth last year to a combination of the company refining its sales tactics and focus, and garnering large contracts. He says Glyph was awarded contracts by Microsoft Corp. and William-Sonoma in addition to more work for the government.

The company is contracted to provide translation services for several William-Sonoma stores opening in Quebec. Charlton says it will be responsible for translating signs, marketing material, product labels, and training documentation, among other things.

The company started attending more gaming conventions last year and landed more contracts through one-on-one interaction with prospective clients, compared with client interest it would receive through its website, he says.

The company says it employs 30 people in a translation and localization division, 11 in government and learning divisions, and three in a consulting division. Charlton says Glyph can translate content into more than 100 different languages.

Glyph has main offices at its headquarters here and in Madison, Wis., in addition to employees in Detroit, Salt Lake City, and Berlin who work out of their homes. The company's CEO, Aaron Schliem, and a Glyph accountant are located at the Madison office.

He says the company's revenues remained relatively flat for the first few years and experienced a surge in 2007. In 2008, the company saw a dip in revenues that it attributed largely to the recession and a smaller decline in 2010, stemming from large contracts that were canceled, he says.

Glyph responded to the decline by adjusting its pricing structure, he says, adding that the company now is readjusting its pricing upward again for some of its clients, given its rebound.

He says Glyph was founded in 1996 on the West Side as a division of the Seattle Language Academy. In 2001, it became incorporated and started working with big name companies such as Starbucks Corp., Amazon.com Inc., and Nintendo of America Inc. Charlton says the name Glyph was chosen because of it relates to symbolism in language across cultures.

Charlton says the Spokane office opened in 2004. Since 2005 the office here had more employees than in the Seattle office, which closed in February 2007, he says. Charlton estimates Spokane became the official headquarters for the company in early 2012.

Charlton says the company initially took almost anything that involved translating, including interpretation jobs and translating medical documents. Now, it concentrates mostly on translating video games and translations on paper.

Charlton says Glyph was contracted by Nike Inc. to translate its content during the Olympics in London and is working with Coca-Cola to provide translation services during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

"When companies are taking a service or product into other countries, they need to look at the content they have in terms of how they will potentially impact the audience in those places," Charlton says.

Glyph examines the translation for phrases, words, or politically sensitive topics that may be considered offensive in other countries.

Charlton says the company is hoping to land additional government language teaching contracts in 2013. He says Glyph has a number of government language teaching and curriculum development contracts already.

"If any of these (contracts) would be approved, we're still at a size where anything of that magnitude could change the company," leading other divisions such as the one responsible for teaching to become the main revenue source, Charlton says.

Charlton declines to comment on what contracts the company has submitted proposals for, but says they involve teaching foreign languages.

"It could change the primary revenue focus of the company" from translation to another division such as learning. He says if additional employees are needed in another division, the company would hire to fill that need rather than shuffling employees between divisions.

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