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Celebrating Local Businesses During Hispanic Heritage Month:
MÁS Translation Services

Q&A with Luisa Baars, owner of MÁS Translation Services

October 2021

Luisa Baars is the owner of MÁS Translation Services. In business since 1988, Luisa provides quality translation and interpretation services in English and Spanish, catering to individuals and companies of all sizes. For more information, call 585.512.6394 or email Luisa at

What inspired you to want to be a business owner in Rochester, and how did you get started?

When I was working as assistant executive director of Ibero-American Action League, I received translated documents from companies and the translations were very poor. For instance, on one report, the “table of contents” was translated in Spanish as “table of happy.” Obviously, that was wrong. I thought, “This is ridiculous, because these people are spending money for translations that are not right.” So I wrote to them, pointing out the different errors that I had found.

Shortly after, I got a request from the New York State Office for the Aging. They had two manuals for caregivers that they wanted me to translate. After I did, they got very nice comments from people who were using the manual, and they urged me to establish a company. I kept working at my job while doing translations on the side, but now that I have retired, I have been able to dedicate more of my time to it.

Hispanics can be entrepreneurs. We have done it in our cuntries, wherever we come from, and there's no reason why we can't do it here. - Luisa Baars

Please elaborate on your passion and mission.

My mission is to provide high-quality English and Spanish translation and interpretation services to individuals and organizations. This job is so interesting to me. I translate all kinds of things from legal, medical, and technological fields. Whatever it is, I'm always learning something, and that is really rewarding.

Also, I have been able to save some people from a lot of trouble. I had one recent translation of a court judgment in a case of custody of minors. The name of the mother was accurate in the first few paragraphs, but in one paragraph, they had changed it to the name of a woman that had nothing to do with her. The mother needed this legal document to bring her kids to Rochester. It was produced by a court in the Dominican Republic, so I said to her, "There's no way I can change your name there. I have to translate what I see. I cannot alter it." She had to hire a lawyer in the Dominican Republic to go to court and have that document fixed. There are many times when I catch important errors like that.

“I can't be idle. That's not my thing. I need to be engaged in something.”

Do you have mentors or sources of inspiration and guidance who have helped you along the way?

Well, it’s a funny story. When I went to university in Puerto Rico, my textbooks were all in English, even though the classes and everything else were in Spanish. Of course, the English that I knew was very limited, so for three years, I walked around with a bilingual dictionary. I would translate the textbooks and write it down in Spanish in notebooks. That's how I learned to translate, because I had to, and it became natural for me. Then, when I became a teacher at the university, my students didn't know enough English to be able to read the textbooks, so I would translate for them. I started doing this when I was 18, and I’m 84 years old, so you can imagine I've been doing this for a long, long time. Now I’m retired, but I still like to work. I can't be idle. That's not my thing. I need to be engaged in something.

What does it mean to you being a Hispanic business owner?

I can show that Hispanics can be entrepreneurs. We have done it in our countries, wherever we come from, and there's no reason why we can't here. I can give hope to people that they can do this despite whatever obstacles there are. And it shows that we can be good entrepreneurs. We can provide quality services, and that is important, because there are many Hispanic business owners here in Rochester who are doing very good work. In fact, there is a Hispanic Business Association. The Hispanic population in Rochester is relatively large, and they are also good consumers of all kinds of services. So keep them in mind when you’re doing business, because they can become your customers—and very good ones—if you have the right approach.

What key impacts have you and your business made so far?

I think there is a big impact on people who must submit documents to immigration to bring their relatives here. It's also very important for companies to have the right information out there in order to communicate with their customers. This is particularly important when dealing with healthcare. I have done a lot of translation recently around COVID. The Hispanic community has lagged in vaccination rates compared to other communities, so it's very important for them to get the right information about where and when they can get the vaccine, as well as what it is and what it does. We have to try to dispel all the myths that make people doubt if they should get vaccinated. I think that's one very important service to the community.

Describe one situation that left a particular impact on you.

There was a case where a mother wanted to bring her four-year-old child here from El Salvador. She had to do DNA testing for her and her child. The lab that did the test, sent the information directly to immigration, then sent her a statement to prove that they had submitted the results. However, she got a letter from immigration indicating that they didn't have the results. So I had to write a letter explaining everything and send a copy of that receipt from the lab. But this took time. Meanwhile, the little girl was still stuck in El Salvador and the mother was here, desperate to get her child. Then the pandemic hit, so the process has been delayed and the child is still there. Those kinds of situations always leave an impression on me because, as a mother, I know how important it is to have my kids near me. But at least immigration now has all the documents to move forward, and the DNA results showed that the woman is the real mother.

What obstacles have you faced as a business owner and how have you overcome them?

It’s been difficult to make people aware that I exist as a business owner, as a company. So far, I’ve basically only done this through word of mouth. I have not advertised, but by providing quality services, I get referrals. If I tell you I'm going to have these documents for you tomorrow, you are going to get it tomorrow, even if I have to work well into the evening. Because I work from home, I can work weekdays, evenings, weekends, whatever I need to do. And once I provide services to a company, I keep them as a client. And when I provide a service for an individual, that person tells somebody else. That's how I get my business.

Last month, I completed a 13-week course for women who are business owners. We learned about advertising and developing websites. Now I'm finally working on developing a website for my company. I think that will give me some visibility outside the Rochester area. Now that I have the time, I want to see if I can expand. I do have school districts in different areas, and I have contracts with them, but I could have more if people get to know me.

What have you learned from your experience as a business owner?

Besides the difficulties with immigration, I have learned about the importance of appropriate communication. I cannot change the meaning of the translation; I have to go with what is written. But I can choose different terms to express the same thing. And the terms have to be in line with the intended audience’s level of understanding. Often when we write, we use jargon or terms that are not common, and I have to be very aware of who the intended audience is. It's also very different if you're writing for people who have a high level of education and are very capable in Spanish language, but not so much in English. These are all things I take into account.

What do you hope to achieve next?

I want to expand my business beyond the Rochester area. When the school districts stopped having in-person classes, they didn’t use my interpretation services. But they sent me contracts for this year as they started to reopen. Many of the small businesses that I serve have reduced their reports and meetings. Instead of having in-person meetings, they’ve been using Zoom, which really reduced my income. Hopefully these things will come back. But many larger businesses stayed open, so this is where I need to aim my business. If we happen to have another situation like the one that we just went through, I want to be able to keep getting business.

“Understand what you are good at. We all have different skills, different abilities, and you need to know what yours are.”

What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs and business owners, particularly Hispanic people, who are looking to start their own business?

You need to be sure that you are aware of the requirements. If you are a minority, or woman-owned business, you can get certified by New York state. That's important because there are other businesses who receive money from the state if they use minority or women-owned businesses. So if you happen to be in that category, get that certification because it will open you up to different markets and different companies that are required to use businesses like yours that are certified.

If you're not a minority, there are still things every entrepreneur should do. Understand what you are good at. We all have different skills, different abilities, and you need to know what yours are. Understand the market — what's available, what's missing. Set realistic goals for your growth and how you're going to let people know you exist. Always do your best to be reliable, to provide a good service, and have consideration for your customers. When you do that, you will surely be their preference, and I have proven that. You don't stay in business for over 60 years if you're not providing a good service that allows people to refer you to other people.