Language Solutions logo.

Language and communication are essential skills we use every day. Texting, calling, emailing, to having conversations, communication is used in our daily lives and in running a business. The staff at Language Solutions is on a mission to teach their clients effective transferable communication skills and assist the limited literacy population. Language Solutions is equipped to help their clients with translating and interpreting 40 languages and counting!

Melissa Wurst, President and Owner of Language Solutions, started the company 22 years ago. After returning to the States from volunteering with the Peace Corps as an English teacher and A.I.D.S educator in Thailand and an English teacher in Taiwan. Wurst continued on the same career path, as a director of a language school and freelance English as a second language (ESL) teacher in St. Louis, Missouri. Wurst enjoyed her chosen career path, but had a different vision of goals for a translation company.

Language Solutions opened with the mission of not only assisting those with limited literacy, translation, and interpreting, as Wurst put it, “We really kind of believe that by communication we can be part of global change because you’re not working with organizations, you’re working with people in those organizations, and if you can talk to them about language or about things that may change, you increase their cultural competency.”

Language Solutions business is comprised of 95% foreign language translation, 5% is dedicated to oral interpreting. The staff is trained and specializes in-app, audio, and video translation, website localization, linguistic screening, and has a Health Literacy Division.

Wurst has frequently worked with the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) since 2006. “I think it’s the highest level of advice you could give to everybody. I’ve worked with a lot of different SBDC people. They’ve always had great experience and great advice. They’re teachers in addition to being experts in their field,” says Wurst.

Wurst’s first consultation was with Kevin Wilson, a business counselor at the Missouri SBDC in St. Louis region. Wurst has previous accountant training and worked with a system called Peachtree, an accounting program. Wurst needed to generate high-level financial reports so, Wilson and Wurst worked together to create a strategic plan to develop the detailed reports. 

“Melissa is an amazing entrepreneur with a depth and breadth of experience (and moxie)!  She has been a joy to work with because she has made a difference in the business community; but also, in the lives of her employees as well as individuals in her neighborhood.  It is because of entrepreneurs like Melissa is why the SBDC exists! She is awesome!” Stated Wilson. Wurst and Wilson still routinely meet today.

The following year, Wurst wanted to upgrade Language Solutions by developing process maps and balance scorecards to reflect the company’s long and short-term goals, and for the localization industry (an industry that consists of companies that provided translation and communication services). She turned to Greg Tucker, the State Director of the SBDC, they worked weekly for two years to design a process management system alongside her employees.

In 2010, Wurst was ready to start the application process to become International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certified. This type of certification is a difficult and tedious process that can take a company several years to apply and be accepted. Through Tucker and the SBDC, Wurst was introduced to Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, a program designed to help organizations improve their performance through evaluation, leadership strategies, and performance proactive principals and methodologies.

The connections and resources the SBDC provided to Wurst, boosted her chances of success. Attending the Baldridge program improved Language Solutions’ company standards to meet the ISO certification regulations. “Had we not been actively doing Baldrige before then it would have taken us so much longer to get ISO certified,” stated Wurst. Language Solutions received the seal of approval for ISO in 2012.

Recently, Wurst had to change gears at Language Solutions due to the global pandemic. Having a relationship with the SBDC prior to the pandemic was paramount in their success to maintain business, employment, and to apply for loans through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

“Nobody had a handle on it [Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Loan], but Kevin helped me make some decisions on that loan and retaining employees that had gone to work remotely. His advice on that was definitely instrumental,” stated Wurst.

Language Solutions felt the burden of the stay-at-home orders, with some client’s temporarily closing business or furloughing employees, but that didn’t mean Language Solutions was not needed. Language Solutions translates on a local and national level and with the mass amount of information that was produced, they were there to translate healthcare communications, critical documents and news, and simplify a wide range of information for their customers.

Wilson, Tucker, and the Missouri SBDC have helped Wurst continually and effectively improve her business and survive a global pandemic. Gaining ISO certification gave Language Solutions the credibility to assist larger companies with translation projects. Improving the Human Resources department and having the knowledge to create reports, balance scorecards, and process maps have improved the quality of work Language Solutions produces. Obtaining a PPP loan earlier in 2020 allowed Wurst to keep their employees on full payroll to continue to serve their customers.

The relationships Wurst has made with the SBDC gave her the confidence to make decisions for her company during unpredictable times. Wurst has continued to expand and elevate her business and the services that Language Solutions provide.