Earlier this year, we got in touch with Mr. Geoffrey Bowden, Secretary of EUATC, to talk about national and international associations and their importance in the language industry. Such associations are indeed pivotal for steering the industry but Europe has seen another kind of alliance over the last twenty years: EULOGIA, an alliance of 20 companies from 20 European countries with a collectivist spirit of trust and friendship. Founded in 1994, EULOGIA stands out for a lot of reasons. Its Chairman, Mr. Miklós Bán, tells us why.
Could you tell us how an alliance like EULOGIA is different from let’s say a national association?
A national association does very different things. It normally includes fierce competitors working together towards common goals and interests where it takes more than just one company to make change. EULOGIA, however, is an alliance of like-minded people and we use it primarily for knowledge transfer and also as a sales tool. And since all the EULOGIA partners are based in 20 different countries, we aren’t each other’s competitors. We are not chasing the same customer set. This allows EULOGIA to be a very open space for knowledge sharing. We use it as a platform to motivate people, learn from each other and provide training opportunities in an international setup. EULOGIA also has an intimate and private nature which allows all the members to share the kind of knowledge that can’t be shared in a wider set up.
Are there any benefits of such an alliance over M&A?
Mergers and acquisitions are done for different reasons so I don’t think we can really compare the two that way. You acquire either to buy market share, buy up a competitor or to boost your turnover. For example, we acquired a company many years ago because we wanted to break into the German speaking market and this company had the required know-how. An alliance like EULOGIA, on the other hand, has different goals. As I mentioned previously, this alliance serves as a great sales tool.
To give you an example, my company is a medium-sized translation company but we normally have big Western European clients, so we often have to compete with very large companies. Just two weeks ago, were in the final round of an RFP process competing against companies that were ten times bigger. But what really makes a difference with EULOGIA is that we can still boast an international footprint without having a large network of international offices of people on our payroll. On the other hand, being a member of such an alliance is also a serious factor in the valuation of a company in the event of a future merger or acquisition.
EULOGIA seems to function in a very conventional way. Will it have to change to keep up with way the industry is changing?
Yes, I think so. We functioned purely on a gentlemen’s agreement for 23 years and everything worked perfectly. There was no legal entity whatsoever. But now that we plan to expand in and beyond Europe, we created a legal entity just two years ago in Malta to create more professional decision making mechanisms and centralised management. And I think we will have to continue changing to keep with newer trends. But the EULOGIA membership for me is also a kind of an assurance. EULOGIA can’t remain unchanged but I have no fear because the collective wisdom will move us further and help us navigate the presently changing tide in the language industry.
But I am also very keen to maintain the spirit of strong friendship, deep trust and mostly unwritten rules. We almost work like a club. It is a very diverse community but is also homogeneous in the way all the members think about the market. So it can be very modern in its ways of adapting to new situations but at the same time, as Chairman, I would like to keep it traditional in that sense of being a club, being a very diverse group of like-minded people.
Do you believe such an alliance can work in younger markets like India?
What I see is that markets that haven’t traditionally been capitalist like most of Western Europe since the Industrial revolution are just skipping a few development phases and going to the top. This means that they are large markets but are relatively young. Well, market maturity obviously makes a difference but markets like India and China are very ripe to join associations in a globalised world. So much so that even EULOGIA is looking to expand to include Chinese, Japanese and Russian members. India is no exception. We already have vendors in India but it is very different from having a partner and that is something EULOGIA will definitely look to do in the future. Indian companies will be sought after not only for their knowledge and services but also for their local expertise.
Lastly, what’s your take on the Indian market?
As a medium-sized company, we have never really considered entering the Indian market as a service provider and I don’t think it is in our short-term plan. Firstly, we lack knowledge and secondly, we know very well that India has a large pool of linguists and translation companies so the market is very competitive. It is not a market smaller European companies can penetrate as sellers. On the other hand, India already plays a very important role on the supply side. We buy a lot of translations from India for our clients. And it is quickly becoming the most populous country in world and all these large Western corporations are looking to penetrate this market to sell their products and services to billions of people. It is really a promising market.