DREAM BIG Small Business Award Finalist: CETRA Language Solutions

May 2, 2012


Seven regional finalists are competing to be named the 2012 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam's Club®. The winner, to be announced on May 22 during America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C., will receive a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of the Chamber.

The DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award pays tribute to businesses that excel in the areas of staff training and motivation, community involvement, customer service, and strategy.  The finalists were selected from 75 Blue Ribbon Award winners.

FreeEnterprise.com interviewed each of the finalists to learn more about what makes them special. Below is our chat with CETRA Language Solutions.

Great Lakes Region

CETRA Language Solutions, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania - offers translation and interpretation services to corporate and government clients in nearly 100 languages.

You started with one client—a law firm that had a large case and needed a translator. How did you grow from one client to where you are today?

Jiri Stejskal, founder and president—After the big litigation case was settled, I went back to work as a freelancer for other translation companies. I realized the opportunities were quite limited working essentially for my competition, so I made a conscious decision to price myself out of the market—to just really raise my prices so high that they wouldn’t send me work anymore—and go after the corporate clients and the federal government.

How do you find the right people?

It took me seven years to get the courage to hire someone after I founded the company, because I was working only with independent contractors. I did a nationwide search. I was so concerned to get it right. I ended up flying people here from all over for interviews. I ended up hiring someone from Wisconsin who came here, husband and all. That was our first employee, and it turned out well. If you really invest the time and money into hiring the right people right from the get-go, it pays off. We were able to assemble a really good team here, which I think is the building stone of our success.

How do you keep employees happy?

We do little things. One of the really popular things is that my wife, who is part of the company, makes homemade soup every Wednesday. People love it. We have solid benefits. We pay 100% health insurance and 100% dental. We have a 401(k) plan and generous paid time off. We treat employees like a family.


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