As a Spanish interpreter traveling throughout the Tri-Cities and eastern Oregon for more than 20 years, Flor Garza Gutierrez noticed a distinct need for interpreters.
During her decades of interpreting for several agencies, she made notes about these needs, names and phone numbers of associates and jotted down business ideas. She had a distinct feeling she’d one day own a business to meet the demands of a changing society – one made up of people from an array of places and speaking myriad languages.
West Richland-based Ms. Flower’s Interpreters and Translators came to fruition in 2007 with 10 companies contracted for services. That number has grown to more than 115, with interpreting and translating services offered in 42 languages, including the rarer languages of Nepalese, Marshallese, Tagalog and Albanian.
“The growth gives me goosebumps on a daily basis. I have constant surprises and a huge smile on my face each day,” Garza Gutierrez said. The entrepreneur said the growth and success of her business surprises her, but it doesn’t seem to surprise others.
“Something that sticks with me is that eight years ago, I was talking with another interpreter and one of our associates walked up and asked if I was the one who owned her own interpreting company. Before I could say, ‘No,’ my fellow interpreter said, “No, she doesn’t yet, but someday she will and it will be huge.’ I guess I didn’t see it in me. I was glad to grow in small steps,” she said.
Small steps didn’t last long, however. Last October, Garza Gutierrez hired a project manager to help her get a contract with the state Department of Social and Health Services, which very quickly made the business take off.
“That’s been growing like crazy. I’m always on the web trying to solicit interpreters throughout the state,” she said.
Many of the interpreters she contracts with are certified in both interpreting (speaking and listening) and translating (documents).
Her company’s services include on-site interpretation and telephonic interpretation of medical appointments, school meetings, legal proceedings and more, all available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some services are planned in advance, others might as needs arise.