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20 years of Argos – from a one-man translation shop to a global translation services company


8 min read

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Argos Multilingual

Published on

25 Oct 2016

This year, Argos Multilingual celebrates its 20th anniversary. We passed a long way to become a global, competitive translation company. During that way, we cooperated (and still continue to) with many wonderful people – employees, clients, and translators – and explicitly we call you all our partners.

But it all started in 1996 and from then Argos created its own story. Our President, Kimon Fountoukidis, during his participation in a podcast with Project Kazimierz on “Translating Success for Krakow” gave a portion of that story:

We set up the business here in Poland.

The first thing I really have to say is there’s so much fortune in my story… and one of the fortune things was being based in Krakow. When I came here it seemed like a cool place to party at the time but it turned out to be really nice strategic location. There are tons of universities here, it’s very technical and the result is that thanks to that I had access to really, really great people here. (…) I do have currently in Argos quite a few people senior level people that are actually from the industry that come with the huge amount of experience working in the bigger companies and that obviously allowed us to combine the best of both worlds. So we’re here with this lower cost machine of really top talent here in Krakow and we’re able to go out and project ourselves and compete with all other companies around the world and in the US and Western Europe.”

Kimon does not hide that he was a door to door salesman and he knocked on enough doors to succeed from a t-shirt seller to a global translation company owner. He calls it the “traditional sales model” which actually was used in the company.

 “And basically that’s the way we were doing things, it’s hard work and from time to time you’ll end up with a big account and most of the time you don’t. But then we actually acquired a company and we doubled in size. And that was… it was a company in US that was actually one of our suppliers but that really opened my eyes. Just through that acquisition process fortune shown upon me – to be able to grow so much so fast, and here I was just reflecting on the effort it took to get any kind of growth before, it was just this massive slog to grow one account at a time. It sort of opened my eyes to… maybe this is applicable to every business but right now we sort of shifted our business strategy a bit. And you know, we’re not going to  do that army of sales people knocking on tones of doors. Now we do sales obviously, we have all of our clients and we do what we call account management, basically strategic account management.

Argos has developed and grown in very challenging and changing times. Our key to survival was adaptation and that is why we provide more than translations. Argos is not just about translation it is mainly about localization:

That’s what so interesting about it and that’s actually why they call it localization and not translation. Localization is the concept of making something local, making something regional, making it feel like that’s how you’d say where you’re from. And very often that’s a cultural thing. (…) But how do you translate that actually? What does that actually mean. That is an issue.”

So, what can you get from Argos?

“(…) if you think about it translation it is at the heart of globalization and every company that will want to go out of its borders will need to translate and you know there’s so many different forms of translations, ways you can translate and obviously it’s best to specialize so we specialized in manufacturing that’s one of the verticals that we specialize in and that would be like having machinery. (…) So we do big tractors which are actually quite technical and complicated so those are very nice things to translate we also do life sciences, so a lot of medical devices, stuff you plug into people, stuff where quality is very important to make sure to get the on off in out correct. Things like that. And also we’re quite heavy in the IT like software localization as well (…) We are adding a lot of value to the process and there’s quite a lot of technology involved. When you’re a bigger company and you have a lot of content and that’s sort of where we help out. We help companies optimize the process. Because it can get very complicated if you can imagine, there can be tons of files, how do you keep track of it all, how do you make sure you don’t translate stuff that you have already translated. So we’ve ended up being quite a technology sort of based company and I think that’s sort of a differentiator between what people call like a translation agency in like a localization firm. I think the fact that we use technology is one of our differentiators.”

As mentioned before, after 20 years, Argos Multilingual’s story was created by many faces. Here, we want to say a big THANK YOU for sharing that journey with us.

To end this blog post, here is one more quote from Kimon, because Argos Multilingual is more than just a business.

 “My dog was called Argos. So that’s where the company name came from. In Argos some people get the real story. But other people I can sometimes pivot and say – It’s Ulysses dog was called Argos. I don’t know if you know the story of Ulysses dog but Ulysses is one of his travelers and when he had twenty years, he was puppy when he left and he came back he was a haggard and he had a beard and stuff like that. And nobody recognized him except his faithful dog Argos who came up to them and laid at his feet and died. Because he was 20 years old. But he waited for his master. So then I can say – we’re a loyal, faithful company”.

Kimon Fountoukidis – LinkedIn

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