GALAxy Member Company Spotlight: ZELENKA Czech Republic Ltd.
By: GALA - ZELENKA Translations - Your CEE Specialist
13 September 2010
This quarter, GALAxy turns its spotlight on Roman Zelenka of ZELENKA Czech Republic Ltd, a Czech-based company that has remained a family-run business as it has grown to a five office operation serving customers worldwide.
Business Name: ZELENKA Translations Ltd.
Owner(s) / President Name: Roman Zelenka, Managing Director
Date Established: 1990
Location: Czech Republic
Phone Number: +420 577 144 669
E-mail: [email protected]
Business Hours: Monday-Friday (8-16)
Number of employees:
15 in-house staff
Description of Company Products / Services:
ZELENKA is a GALA member and one of the leading Czech companies specializing in providing language services such as translation, localization, proofreading, voice-over and interpreting. We have been in the market since 1990. In that time we have developed from a small family business into an international LSP, and this year we are celebrating 20 years in the business.
Currently we have around 2900 freelancers and 15 in-house staff. We also have offices in five countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, France and Italy).
What prompted you to start your own business?
My parents started the company in 1990, immediately after the fall of communism in the Czech Republic. My father, Zbynek Zelenka, had been the head of the translation department in the biggest local factory (SVIT, previously Bata shoes) and a freelance translator and had built up a lot of useful contacts in this field. After the Velvet Revolution, with the changes in the political and economic climate, it seemed a logical step to start his own translation business, using his existing experience and know-how.
I have been with the company for twelve years and during this time I have been webmaster, marketing manager, project manager, and sales manager. Four years ago, I became the managing director.
What company or individual do you admire?
Rather than any specific company or person, I admire individuals who have started their own company from scratch, hired all the staff themselves, and who are still involved in the business, maintaining its excellent quality but who are still able to make their families a priority.
What makes your business stand out from competitors?
Over the last six years we have also benefited from opening new offices in Germany, Slovakia, Italy and France and by retaining the project management team in the Czech headquarters. We had been a relatively small local business previously, but now I am glad that we decided to spread our wings and become international. For some clients our geographical position is an advantage. Being in the heart of Europe we are a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe.
We also pride ourselves on the strong personal relationships that we have developed with our clients and team. Previously we didn’t have many informal activities. We started organizing various teambuilding activities, weekend workshops and sports tournaments for our staff and clients about six years ago ... and it has had a very positive effect on company loyalty among our employees and our customers both. I would personally recommend that everybody invest in teambuilding activities with their staff and clients.
How can others get started in this business?
The way I see it is that anyone can set up a translation company in one day, but then what happens is that there are problems with the quality of the finished translation. You don’t have suitable translators, translators with the necessary language skills and specific areas of expertise, or quality management systems in place. You’re looking for a short-term profit for a low price, by cutting corners and quality. Of course there is no future in this approach. It’s true that sometimes clients are blind and sometimes try these low-cost, no-frills LSPs, but in the end they come back to a professional, quality supplier, like us. So my advice would be to deliver services professionally at all times, and build a solid team of professionals around you. Think of the longer term, and not of just trying to make a fast buck.
Do you have any advice for future entrepreneurs?
Yes, certainly as a family company (there are four ZELENKAs in-house) it hasn’t always been a smooth passage, but the advantages of being able to rely on family and the passion for the business outweigh the disadvantages. I would stress that if anybody is trying to decide whether to work in a family business or not, my advice is to be very patient and rely on your family! You will soon see the positive results.