Peru native starts up translation company in Utah — even while learning English

Sep 17 2012 - 5:08pm

Images

Eric Cheng, an employee of U.S. Translation Company, founded in 1995, translates during the USANA annual convention last month in Salt Lake City.  (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Maria Del Carmen listens to a translation of a speaker’s presentation during the convention. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
David Utrilla, a native of Peru, wanted to help companies and organizations overcome language barriers when doing business, so he founded U.S. Translation Company in Ogden in 1995. (Courtesy photo)
Eric Cheng, an employee of U.S. Translation Company, founded in 1995, translates during the USANA annual convention last month in Salt Lake City.  (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Maria Del Carmen listens to a translation of a speaker’s presentation during the convention. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
David Utrilla, a native of Peru, wanted to help companies and organizations overcome language barriers when doing business, so he founded U.S. Translation Company in Ogden in 1995. (Courtesy photo)

SALT LAKE CITY -- As the marketplace becomes more global, businesses still need to communicate with each other and with their customers. No matter how small the world has become, the language barrier still persists.

David Utrilla wanted to help companies and organizations overcome the barrier, so he founded U.S. Translation Company in Ogden in 1995.

The company does everything from translating documents to providing interpreters at conventions.

In an interview conducted in Spanish, Utrilla says U.S. Translation Company even rents out equipment to facilitate simultaneous translation.

To ensure the best possible translations, the company contracts native speakers from the areas that will be served.

For example, if a medical equipment company needs to sell a new set of dental equipment in Lisbon, Utrilla says the company would attempt to find a dentist in Portugal to translate the manual.

It is important not only to know the language, but also to understand the dialect and the subject matter, Utrilla says.

So to be a good translator or interpreter, it is not enough for a person to have done a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or to have taken a course in college.

"I don't only employ people here," Utrilla says, "but around the world."

Utrilla credits some of the company's latest success to the economy.

As companies find it harder to survive on a local scale, they look to expand their customer base around the world.

Translation work still requires a human touch. It can't be done using unreliable computer software.

"You can't take that risk," Utrilla says.

Through businesses such as U.S. Translation, companies can overcome the language barrier.

Starting the business required Utrilla to overcome many barriers of his own.

Ha was born and raised in Lima, Peru.

For most of his life, he maintained an entrepreneurial spirit, which he fed by helping a local craftsman sell handmade dollhouses door to door and eventually opening his own video store.

In 1993, civil and political unrest forced Utrilla to flee to the United States.

At age 24, he arrived with only $200 in his pocket and zero knowledge of the local language.

"I came to the state of Utah in 1994, and when I came, I did not speak English."

In part because of his membership in the LDS Church, Utrilla settled in the Beehive State and enrolled at Weber State University to take classes in English as a second language.

His entrepreneurial spirit persisted, and shortly after arriving, Utrilla started his company from his basement apartment, offering to translate materials.

A lot of people doubted him, Utrilla says, asking, "How are you going to start a translation company if you don't speak English?"

But Utrilla had done his homework.

He had conducted a marketing study to determine the need for and feasibility of such a business. He learned that there were only a few in the entire state and none in Northern Utah.

With a plan in place, Utrilla only had to overcome his largest challenge: gaining clientele when he had no contacts or track record.

His first big break came from JBT AeroTech, a company that manufactures jetways and deicing equipment used at airport facilities around the world.

His company has added interpretation services as well.

The addition allowed the company to earn a contract in 1998 to provide interpretation services for nutritional supplements manufacturer Nu Skin.

For the next 15 years, U.S. Translation Company continued to grow, adding employees and attracting clients from around the world.

Utrilla says the company has grown 20 percent each year in the last few years.

In 2011, U.S. Translation Company moved from Ogden to its current location at 320 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, to be closer to many of the businesses it serves.

However, Utrilla says a big portion of its business lies elsewhere.

About 40 percent of the company's clients are in Utah, with the remainder literally around the world.

Every day, the world becomes a little smaller as the global marketplace becomes a little bigger.

Utrilla's company helps facilitate that change.

Click here for more information about the company.

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