THE AMERICAN DREAM: When Para-Plus Translations, Inc. founder and president Sonia Santiago arrived in the U.S. from Puerto Rico at age 14, she faced a new school and community without any English language skills. She quickly learned the language, then practiced in the mirror to get rid of her accent. She went on to create a multi-service translation and interpretation agency with service capabilities in over 100 languages, which has grown every year for 34 years.
PASSING THE TORCH: Second-generation owners Robert and Carlos Santiago took a circuitous route to ownership and governance. Working outside the company, both acquired business skills that ultimately allowed Para-Plus to grow and the organizational structure to change. “Developing, maintaining and adhering to a governance system within the family firm has been very important to us,” Robert Santiago says.
Quick Tip “In business, business comes first. In the workplace, decisions must be objective and, as best as possible, not personal.”
PERFECTING PROCESSES: Robert Santiago says the second generation’s challenge was to build on past success, continuing to provide service excellence and manage client relationships during a time of internal transition and economic downturn. They sought to keep the core values of a family-based organization while bringing the business to a level that was more consistent with the demands of a technology-based generation.
BUILDING A LEGACY: Robert Santiago says he wants to create a great work environment where everyone treats each other with respect and individuals feel they are effectively contributing to the success of the organization. “To help key employees learn to make day-to-day decisions in the absence of ownership, you force them to make tough decisions on a trial basis and run independently,” he says.