On May 3, 2021, US-based language service provider Propio Language Services announced the acquisition of translation and interpreting provider, Vocalink. The terms of the deal, which completed on April 30, 2021, remain undisclosed.
Propio CEO Marco Assis told Slator that Vocalink was a privately-owned business prior to the sale. He declined to share revenue or profit metrics for Vocalink, but said the company has 15 employees. Assis confirmed that Vocalink CEO and Founder Amelia Rodriguez, who led the company for over 25 years, is retiring.
Kansas-based Propio generated revenues of USD 14.7m in 2020 and had 50 employees at the start of 2021. Describing a bumper start to 2021, Assis said, “We have already doubled our size five months into the year, and we will close 2021 with over 100% growth compared to last year.” The combined organization is expected to have in excess of 100 employees by the end of 2021.
Propio is familiar with rapid growth. The LSP featured on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing US companies in 2019, reporting more than 109% growth over three years. They acquired two interpreting companies in Kansas City, one in 2013 and the other in 2018, Assis said, adding that Vocalink is Propio’s largest acquisition to date.
Describing his background, Assis said, “As an immigrant from Brazil and like most of my colleagues in the industry, I understand the challenges of being an entrepreneur and how hard it is to grow a business.” With prior professional experience in M&A and operations, Assis joined Propio four years ago and said he “restructured the company from the ground up.”
Assis stepped into the CEO role in late 2019. He told Slator his goal is for Propio to “lead the industry, [and] to accomplish that, I see it as a combination of organic and inorganic growth.”
According to Assis, Propio was “looking for a very synergetic company to add to our platform and create a multiplier effect.” They connected with Vocalink through “mutual friends in the industry” and saw a strong match.
US Interpreting During Covid-19
Vocalink and Propio have a clear focus on interpreting services, which account for around 80% of combined company revenues; localization makes up the rest. Assis also noted that the two companies’ geographic footprints are “highly compatible.” Vocalink has a local presence in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, which “supports Propio’s strategic expansion path and will allow clients and interpreters to obtain access, value, and results immediately,” Assis said.
Proprio has a strong customer base in the healthcare industry and also services government, education, insurance, and legal customers, among others. There is some overlap with Vocalink’s primary customer markets, which include healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, and business.
Along with significant disruption to onsite interpreting during the Covid restrictions of 2020, Propio observed an uptick in demand for remote interpreting services. Assis said, “Covid accelerated the need and the adoption for remote solutions,” pointing out that the team helped “clients pivot to remote interpretation and provided critical interpreting services to the general population and LEP community.”
He observed that, although “2020 was a very challenging year, [it] ended as the best of our history.” Assis credited technology and a scalable platform as underpinning their resilient performance in 2020 — Propio achieved 2.8% growth during the year — and in driving future growth: “We will be announcing soon, more innovative developments on that front.”
Describing the evolution of demand during his tenure with Proprio, Assis said “we have seen incredible growth with remote services and there are no signs of slowing down.”
Moreover, he said, “we are investing heavily in improving the experience for all our services, including in-person as it remains one of the favorite choices for providers when available to them.”