TransPerfect Translations announced today that it had acquired Crimson Language Services. According to the press release, the “merger creates a newly-formed Life Sciences Division that combines Crimson’s ISO 9001:2000/ISO 13485:2003 certified quality system and patent-pending risk management methodology with the production resources and localization talent of TransPerfect and its software localization unit, Translations.com.”
Crimson is a well-regarded agency with a solid client base in the life sciences and financial services industries. I don’t know what the purchase price was but strategically it makes sense. More important, given the fragmented nature of the translations industry, this type of merger is a sign of things to come.
If you’re a small translation agency: Specialize now or struggle later
If you’re a small translation agency worried about competing with the “big boys” like Lionbridge or SDL, find a industry vertical or two that they have done a relatively poor job serving thus far and one that has good growth potential. Life sciences, for example, has been a key vertical because clients will pay a premium for quality. This doesn’t mean you won’t pitch other industry opportunities as they arise, but you do need to start specializing. Clients are getting savvier in how they select agencies, which means they want agencies who know their industry inside and out. Vertical specialization is the way to create deep and long-lasting client relationships. Also keep your eye on value-added services, like source content editing, interpreting, local-market keyword advertising support, and more.
If you’re a translation buyer: Don’t buy from a “one size fits all” translation agency
No agency is an expert at every industry, despite what they will tell you. The first thing you should do when evaluating potential agencies is take a good look at their client roster. Then you should call a few of their clients (clients that are in your industry) to get a feel for the agency’s track record. The TransPerfect acquisition of Crimson is good news for clients, because it combines in-depth industry expertise with the IT skills and software of a much-larger localization vendor.