New Brunswick’s CLS Lexi-tech is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lionbridge Technologies, the world’s largest localization solutions provider. Originally incorporated as Lexi-tech International in 1988, it has since become North America’s most prominent translation and linguistic services provider serving clients in multiple sectors across Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

Upon its founding in Moncton, the company’s first task was to complete the largest translation and documentation project ever awarded to a private Canadian firm — manuals associated with the Canadian Patrol Frigate Project (CPFP). Today, CLS Lexi-tech has expanded to include offices in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, and Ottawa.

Robin Ayoub joined the company in 2003 and serves as Vice President – Business Development & Sales. ONB sat down with him to learn more about the company’s New Brunswick success, and his thoughts on the province’s potential for his industry.

ONB: Let’s first touch on your background.

Ayoub: In 1990, near the end of the Lebanese Civil War, I immigrated to Canada from Beirut. I ended up in Fredericton, New Brunswick, a city I still love and consider home.

I had my Computer Science degree from Lebanese University and found work in NB’s tech sector, working with great companies like Blue Cross, NBTel (now Bell Aliant) and Innovatia. I ended up with CLS Lexi-tech almost by accident. I was returning home from a business trip, and the person seated beside me on the flight happened to be General Manager of Lexi-Tech International. By the time we landed, I had been offered a new job. I was excited by the work they were doing in translation.

You speak several languages yourself, isn’t that right?

Yes. I began with Arabic at home and then learned French in school. I stayed in Cyprus for a few years and learned Greek, and picked up Spanish along the way. English I’ve only been using for about 20 years, since age 30.

What advantages does the company see from being headquartered in New Brunswick?

Let’s begin with the people — dedicated, hard-working, talented individuals. We wouldn’t be where we are now without a strong base in Moncton. I’ve taken note of that characteristic of this region since the day I landed in Canada. As I moved further in my career here that only became more evident. Our Moncton team is still growing; we’re approaching 100 employees there. This is a testament to NB’s talent pool.

That brings us to the second advantage — education. People coming to us from the Université de Moncton are terrific. We have a great relationship with the University that consistently brings excellent candidates to our door. That is something New Brunswick does well, connecting academia with industry.

Then there is the fact that NB is the only officially bilingual province in the country. It’s fitting to have Canada’s biggest translation office in Moncton; that is no accident. Despite offices in larger centres our Moncton office is still growing. And that location does the majority of its business outside the province. That’s not small either; we are talking millions of dollars per year. Our base is in Canada but we’re serving the U.S. coast to coast and several clients in Europe. For us, a bilingual workforce is absolutely an economic driver.

Can you touch on your company’s relationship with ONB?

We’ve worked with your group for many years, both as ONB and your predecessor organizations. We’ve worked with the province on recruitment efforts, teaming to bring more people to New Brunswick from abroad. We’ve helped people emigrate from France, contributing to population growth and providing our team more skilled translators. We are currently working with ONB again on workforce strategy. That initiative is ongoing, but we’ve already added several new hires in Moncton recently.

ONB helps us tremendously on the export and marketing side. For instance the Annual SEUS-CP Conference; I attend with the NB delegation every year. Again, as a company doing most of our work outside the province, ONB’s assistance with exports is essential.

What’s next?

I have ideas for growing not only our business but New Brunswick’s translation sector. For example, I would love to see us create a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in Linguistics. I’ve had several conversations about this concept over the years, and I truly think New Brunswick could be a great place for something like that. I think there’s much potential there for us. As the only officially bilingual province with a skilled bilingual workforce, we can lead not only the country but the world. CLS Lexi-tech is already proving we can; we have two offices in Quebec and Ontario each, but we’re still growing in the Moncton/Dieppe region. Translation services can become a real claim to fame for this province. I look forward to moving the needle on that.

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Written by Jason Boies

Cover image: Province of New Brunswick