Wall Has Many Oars In The Water

February 20, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Beverly Wall certainly isn’t the first influential business owner to be featured on this page. But she may very well be the first influential business owner to be featured on this page who rows — like with oars.

“I like to sit in the skinny boats and go backwards in the water,” said Wall, a member of the Grand Rapids Rowing Club.

“I actually own a double and I can take anybody out and teach them the sport of rowing,” she added. “It’s great.”

Wall is CEO of Languages International Inc. and Fishnell Properties. Languages is a full-service foreign translation and interpretation firm that recently added a financial division. Fishnell Properties buys foreclosed homes and sells the houses to first-time buyers.

Wall bought Languages just last year because international business and foreign cultures have always intrigued her. She said she doesn’t have a favorite language, but those from the Far East never fail to grab her attention.

“Korean, Japanese and Chinese, those symbol languages are fascinating to me,” she said.

Being able to link business communities throughout the nation with their counterparts across the globe is what Languages International does. Wall hasn’t grown tired of turning documents from this culture into papers that are easily understood by people who speak other languages, and vice-versa. Her firm is also busy teaching English as a second language, as the demand for those classes has risen recently among local businesses.

“They are requesting corporate classes be held at their sites for their non-English speaking workers so they can understand directions of how to put the products together and be a cohesive part of that company,” she said.

“So we’re finding that corporate classes and the request for ESL classes is growing.”

Business is picking up at Languages. Wall said things were slow during the last quarter of last year. But, like the equity market, activity is now on the rise. Part of that surge is due to the accounting and note-buying services she added to Languages.

“That’s what is exciting for me. That is what I bring to the table; the financial aspect and being able to service clients in that way,” she said.

“Jobs will follow. I’m confident jobs will come. We’re seeing the outreach of documents being translated into different languages, so the jobs will follow.”

Wall was born in Greenville, but grew up in Carson City. She earned her undergraduate degrees from Aquinas College and Davenport University, and her MBA from GVSU.

Wall is very active in the community, serving on the board and the executive committee of Leadership Grand Rapids and with Leadership West Michigan. She sits on the Grand Rapids Township Zoning Board of Appeals and is ending her two-year stint with the Cedar Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Wall also is the president of the Very Influential Executive Women 100, or VIEW 100, and the very first to take the helm of president for the new National Alumni Association for Davenport University.

“Davenport University now encompasses many campuses, so there is now a national alumni association. They’ve always had alumni associations, but these have always been tied to the individual campuses. Now, myself and a bunch of talented people are cutting new ground in addressing what that needs to be,” she said.

Steve, her husband, is an engineer with the Blackmer-Dover Co. and they have two daughters, Amy and Diana. When Wall isn’t translating, volunteering, buying and selling homes, or rowing, she is usually reading, mostly nonfiction and mostly about successful women, such as former Washington Post publisher Kathrine Graham. Then there is the true-life story she recently finished about a woman in Alaska.

“She and her husband claimed the last homestead northwest of Fairbanks, and they happen to be friends of my uncle. She wrote a book about their struggles, about living out there in the wilderness, living in the dark for four months at a stretch every winter where they measure the snow in feet, not inches,” she said.

“So I like to read stories of strong women, and the will and courage they showed to overcome their obstacles.”

Last year was a good year for Wall. She captured the ATHENA Award given annually by the local chamber, along with the VIEW 100 Woman of Vision honor. So where does she display both awards? In the lobby of Languages International, of course.

“As you’re coming into the office, you’ll see both awards,” she said. “I have had an exciting year and it continues to unfold and be more exciting.”

As for her immediate future, Wall will continue to enjoy going backward in the water and forward with her businesses. In short, she doesn’t see herself getting lost in the translation.

“I continue to look forward to serving the Grand Rapids community and, actually, the national community when it comes to language needs,” she said. “Whether that be financial or foreign language or whatever that looks like.”    

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