Language no barrier for this multilingual company

Golnaz Shokouhi switches between five languages as she goes from speaking with clients, to employees — and to her partner in life and in work, Hossein Borazghi.

More and more Quebec workers speaking French and English equally

AS Composite co-founder and engineering director Golnaz Shokouhi speaks up to five languages at work. (Sean Henry/CBC News)

Golnaz Shokouhi switches between five languages as she goes from speaking with clients, to employees — and to her partner in life and in work, Hossein Borazghi.

That's a normal day at AS Composite, a sandwich panel manufacturing company the couple founded in 2002.

You're bound to hear English at the machines because it's faster for everyone, French and Spanish with some employees and clients, Farsi here and there, as well as Borazghi's native tongue, Azari.

"Knowing each language is like a window for a new culture, for different information and different cultures," Shokouhi told CBC News at AS Composite in Dollard-des-Ormeaux.

Technical skills are more important than what language you speak for the founders of AS Composite. (Sean Henry/CBC News)

"We're a family here. If someone speaks Spanish, we're going to speak Spanish together. It's a little bit like the United Nations," Shokouhi had told Radio-Canada earlier.

Last week, census numbers released by Statistics Canada showed the use of French in workplaces in the province has fallen in the past 10 years.

Instead, more and more Quebec workers are using English and French equally.

The numbers also show more anglophones and allophones are using French equally with English at work. 

The biggest increases in the use of both languages at work were seen in the Montreal area, especially in North and South Shore suburbs, and around Quebec City.

Shokouhi says using multiple languages is a more efficient way to run her business so everyone is on the same page. And Borazghi says mother-tongue is not what matters most in their field. 

"[Language] is not important for us, it's the technical skills that are," he told Radio-Canada.

"Most of our clients are American. We also talk [to] a lot to people in Toronto. If you do not speak English in engineering, you will have problems."

Borazghi and Shokouhi arrived in Canada from their native Iran in 1995. They both went to Université de Montréal's Polytechnique engineering school before founding their composite panel company. 

They both learned French upon their arrival and try to help their employees learn French by offering them language classes.

with files from Sean Henry and Roberto Rocha