Clients were mostly local manufacturers of metals or tools, including many familiar and famous names such as Davy McKee, David Brown/Union, Alstom, Firth Rixson, British Steel, Edgar Allen, Durham Duplex, GEC Alsthom, SKF, Tractel, Presto, Vesuvius, Kvaerner, ATI, Allvac, INEOS, VAI, Siemens, Dormer, Carrs, Wilkinson and Bassetts, as well as the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Sheffield Council.

Not all projects were so technical or business-related. In April 1996, then Manchester-based Grant Naylor Productions needed some script lines into German for their cult sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf: the famous scene from “Stoke Me a Clipper” when hero Ace Rimmer (What a guy!) rescued the kidnapped Princess Bonjella from the wicked Nazis, two of whom met their demise unexpectedly; crushed by a falling crocodile!

Come the late 90s, remaining staff member Maryline Tergella was joined by Daniel Collis - newly-graduated in German and Russian and son of Sissel, a Norwegian translator associated with the cooperative and TEFL* teacher at Sheffield Hallam’s TESOL** Centre. In March 1999 they both together established TransAction Translators Ltd and the company grew again. Innovative and growing companies such as AESSeal (as AES Engineering) and Gripple, who, once big enough, went on to form their own translation departments, were already part of the burgeoning client list***.

Says Peter Kersh, local multi-lingual businessman, former Export Director for Gripple then Managing Director of aquaculture company WorldFeeds, “Without the outside help from TransAction the success of Gripple would have not been the phenomenon it was and until the company had its own in-house staff and European offices, the company would come to them for manuals, brochures, posters and leaflets into a range of languages including French, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese”.

2010 saw another famous McKee requiring translation services. Then-upcoming local artist Pete McKee was picked up by internationally-renowned clothes designer Paul Smith, to use some of Pete’s designs on his clothing. At the launch in Tokyo, Pete also released 500 copies of a bilingual English/Japanese book containing his art – Teenage Kicks – project managed by Daniel, who had recruited a British-based Japanese connoisseur of English popular culture to do the job. Says Pete, “I set TransAction the incredibly hard challenge of translating my unique Northern writing into Japanese and it making sense to those who read the Japanese translation. They did a brilliant job and the book was a great success with the Japanese readers and is something I'm immensely proud of”.

Sometime after, through Daniel’s father, Professor John Collis of Sheffield University, the company were given the job of translating the text from French to English for the archaeological exhibits at the Bibracte Museum at Mount Beuvray, Burgundy, capital of the Celtic tribe of the Aedui, which played a prominent part in the Gallic wars of Julius Caesar. “The in-house translator for this assignment enjoyed learning of all the ancient peoples and battles that it involved,” recalls Daniel, “and going to see the translations in situ when accompanying my father for him to be awarded the Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres**** by the French state was a real thrill! You don’t often get to see the product in its final state”.

As ever in business, there were also setbacks, including the economic downturns which the company rode from the very beginning. Says Daniel, “Maybe our sector is lucky in some ways, as when times are good, companies can afford the resources to export their products, but then in lean times there is also the pressure to find new customers, and that can include abroad. However, disruptors AI and machine translation have learned from all the linguists’ previous hard work and these days could arguably prove more of a competitor to linguists than an aid in their work. Most certainly a boon for society in general, however AI’s influence in future will certainly make linguists’ job all the more mundane”.

Another unfortunate event arose when several local language service providers (LSPs) were omitted by Sheffield Chamber of Commerce when tendering for bids to run their new in-house translation service, which was eventually awarded to members of their existing staff, before a second call to tender some years later. “I think it’s well over a decade now, but long story short, subsequent providers for the Chamber’s service appear to be multi-nationals mainly operating from outside the region”. TransAction have since become proud members of the Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber and are still decades-long members of the UK Association of Translation Companies (ATC), who require membership criteria such as professional indemnity insurance and quality controls.

What of today? Well, with staff members – recruited from the Masters’ cohort from Sheffield University – having moved onto other careers, such as freelance translation, language teaching at a nearby school, social work and a PA to a Lord; and with Maryline retiring a few years back, the company moved from Redlands Business Centre in Broomhill to Daniel’s basement in Sharrow during the lockdowns. “Along with the same network of experienced and qualified translators, it is just me and the computer servers working from home these days,” he says. “TransAction is now smaller, as we no longer do interpreting or certified or sworn translations, so is more of a lifestyle company. You will still get the same high level of quality through my 25+ years in translation project management, combined with our quality freelance linguists, though – the machines haven’t quite smudged out the human touch yet!”.

“With now over 27,500 different jobs for individuals and companies under our belt, I would very much like to thank our community of hardworking and conscientious translators, past and present, some of whom we have known for decades and continue to have good relations with. In fact, I recently found out that our US Spanish translator in Houston, Texas has just welcomed their first great-grandchild into the world!”.

“We still hear very occasionally from world-renowned powerhouses Sheffield Forgemasters (clients since 1985) and Swann-Morton (1990) these past 40 years. We are also very grateful to our oldest existing clients Sarclad (Spring 1985), Pandrol, John Bruce/MEI, TSGE, Safetykleen, Winbro & Seattle-based DCI, for their continued support!”.

TransAction are not the only ones celebrating a milestone anniversary this year. Says Damian Haigh, Marketing Specialist at Lindapter International, manufacturers of steelwork fixings since 1934, ”We first used TransAction as far back as 2006 when we needed an interpreter for a business meeting, but we really started to collaborate closely once we published a new website in 2009. Since then we have relied upon TransAction to translate and review our marketing materials into European languages, including our technical product catalogues and case studies. We would choose no other for the job!”.

Another valued client, David Barber, Technical Author: “I’ve worked with TransAction for 16 years since 2008, across four different companies. In that time they’ve translated scores of technical manuals for me into at least a dozen different languages. Their diligence, attention to detail and good humour have shone through every project, so much so that they’re more like friends and colleagues than just mere suppliers. Today they’re helping me at Fords Packaging Systems, ensuring that our manuals, machine labels and control interfaces are understood all over the world. As Fords celebrate our own centenary this year, we’d like to raise our glasses and wish everyone at TransAction a very happy birthday”.

Additionally Chris Dawson, Business & Marketing Manager at MEI: “Congratulations to Dan at TransAction! Over all the years we have required their services, TransAction have always been fast, friendly and efficient. Whatever we have thrown at them, and however short the deadline, they have been there to support us with their knowledge and expertise”.

“So here’s to the next 25!”, exclaims Daniel, “I look forward to helping put clients old and new on the global map and watch them grow through export, as well as help out where I can with their language hurdles – I am only an email or phone call away …”.