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Meet Justin Pickering of Blaine & González in Woburn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Pickering.

Justin, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Back in 2010, I was looking for work. I had been a high school teacher/graduate student most of my career since graduating Tulane University in 2001. I had applied for an in-house translator position with Public Schools of Brookline. I never heard back from them.

Three years passed, I got a job in marketing, and had forgotten about the application. My wife and I were living in Waltham then in a small apartment. One day, I get an email from Public Schools of Brookline asking if I would do one, small $25 translation. I asked the lady who contacted me how she found me. She said that she saw my old application for the in-house translator position. I inquired into what happened to that role and she said it had been absorbed into the budget. They nixed the whole position. We both chuckled at that and I said “Yeah, sure. I’ll do it.” And that was almost 5 years ago. Since then, Public Schools of Brookline, Veritas Preparatory Charter Academy, Amazon, the US Department of State, the Navy, and many others have come to know the impeccable, accurate, and on-time translations on which we pride ourselves at Blaine & Gonzalez. I am the salesperson who won all of our clients, a feat of which I am proud. I have sent literally thousands of individualized, tailored sales emails, made countless phone calls, and spent hours honing the branding and messaging of my company. I absolutely love, love, love, love what I do every single day. We bridge language and culture gaps and make things possible for others that never before would have been. The most rewarding piece is helping the families of immigrants to understand how their school systems work so that their children can enjoy every last privilege and benefit that a mainstream American child enjoys.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No, it wasn’t smooth at all. What start-up endeavor is?

One of my main struggles was with family. Blaine & Gonzalez is my 5th start-up company.

All the others failed. The first was a television show meant for HBO that actually got some celebrities attached to it before we realized that the HBO writers themselves already had a story incredibly similar to our own. You may have heard of Treme, the HBO program about New Orleans? They beat us to the punch by a mile. The second start-up was an ethanol refinery. I partnered with some old-school gentlemen from Texas to bring an ethanol refinery online. How did a former school teacher get involved in this, you ask? My language ability. Ethanol is huge in Brazil. I speak Portuguese. I was a lead negotiator and liaison with Brazilian government. That failed because in the end, one of the Texans withdrew the land he was offering to build on.

Drat! Foiled again! After that, a friend of mine from college, one of his pals from New York, and I landed a significant investment to further the ethanol idea, but instead of a refinery, we identified a scientist to create a fuel additive that was going to change the way fuel traveled through underground pipes. We made it very far with this project. In fact, we made it into a series of emails with some hedge fund leaders who were going to give us some Mark Zuckerberg money to get the project done, but, as fate would have it, it was not to be. After that ended, all I had work-wise was my job teaching in the Metro Nashville Public School System. It was a tough school. There was violence and drugs and gangs. I was physically assaulted at work one day. So, you asked about the struggles.

Those were some…. My family thought I was losing my mind. They started looking down on my like I was a loser. I started looking at myself that way. I gained weight. I felt depressed. Everywhere I went, I felt like everyone I knew saw a big “F” for FAILURE tattooed to my forehead. Blaine & Gonzalez getting to the level it is at today came right around the time my daughter was born. Two massive blessings in one beautiful package.

Both my daughter and my business have been my salvation from almost a decade of failure.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Blaine & González – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We specialize in translations, interpreting, proofreading/editing, and localization. We can handle work in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Urdu, Arabic, Hindi, Pashto, and some others. We are looking to add Haitian Creole and Burmese to our mix as we have come to understand that there are large populations of these cultures in Boston,

I am most proud of my team. My team has mainly been my wife Margarita, my father Bryon, my friend Joe, and several other key advisers who lent their wisdom as professionals and friends. I think of myself as a “brain trust”-type CEO. I believe the best idea is out there and we will get it if we all put our heads together.

My team has proven this theory to be true time and time again. They taught me that no one does anything alone and that the true credit for success in business goes to the group and not to one individual.

For a small firm, we are immensely strong.

Our translators have a minimum of a graduate degree in their field of studies and most are native speakers of the language into which they translate. Many have PhDs. My group knows their subject matter, which is of premier importance in the translation business. If you are truly going get the most accurate translation, the bottom line is that the translator you hire has to know what s/he is talking about inside and out. They have to be experts.

With large firms, you do not know what you are getting. They could have literally hundreds of subcontractors working on one job. Their in-house translators may or may not have the proper academic background.

At Blaine & Gonzalez, we did not cut any corners.

We differentiate ourselves by deploying the personnel with best-in-class training coupled with cutting-edge translation software. Our translations are, like our slogan says, impeccable, accurate and on-time, always.

The company name is derived from a combination of my wife’s last name and my father’s middle name.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Blaine & Gonzalez is a woman-owned, minority-owned business. As such, we have recently become state vendors in Massachusetts, Delaware, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and California. We are also completing our Federal Vendor application which will enable us to get on the GSA vendor schedule, which is a $36.8 billion market across every industry you can imagine.

Translation is mission-critical to many Federal entities. If we want to ensure our success in the private and public sector, our Federal agencies need the best of the best in translations.

We aim to position the company at the intersection of business, politics, and thought leadership around translation, bilingual education in Massachusetts and the USA.

Our ultimate goal would be to become one of the preferred Federal vendors for Spanish.

I want the US Army and the White House calling saying “We need 10,000 pages of operations manuals translated for linguistic training for soldiers.”

A wise man once told me that if you aim for the moon, you will land somewhere among the stars.

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

    September 11, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Awesome story of resiliency and persistence. You rock!

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