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Family Legacy Built on Research and Development

Family Legacy Built on Research and Development


LRDG is the leading developer and supplier of online language training technology solutions in Canada. LRDG empowers government workers and job seekers to achieve Canada’s second language proficiency standards and advance their careers through its professional e-learning platform. This model blends high-impact self-study on LRDG’s state-of-the-art virtual learning portal with a team of expert tutoring and pedagogical professionals. LRDG’s methodology significantly increases the likelihood its candidates pass Canada’s Second Language Evaluations (SLEs) on a first attempt, as well as delivers solutions for common pain points in language training, and helps learners ultimately save time and money.

The original vision was survival ” – Julius Frohlich, CEO


In an interview, Julius Frohlich, founder and CEO of LRDG, said his passion for technology is what drove him to dive into the world of e-learning. In 1974, Julius’ career in IT dawned, and he spent five years at IBM and 22 at Japanese conglomerate Hitachi. “I was an IT guy for about 30 years,” he explains. Indeed, it was a timespan bookended by Xerox’s introduction of the first PC and Apple wowing with its now-defunct iPod.” But it was in 2004 when Julius said he was approached by an acquaintance in the language school sector who saw synergies in their respective fields. That encounter proved fortuitous as the hitherto inexact science of language learning, fuelled by Julius’s resolve to modernize the sector, took on a new and vastly improved dimension.


Why The Frohlich Family Succeeds

Values: Doing well by always doing right
Growth: They and their company are dedicated to learning
Strategy: Business service and model have evolved with technology, research
Innovation: Continuously re-imagining the language learning
Culture: Technology-powered, people-focused

Julius began selling language training courses: modular learning content pressed onto CD-ROMs and, later, DVDs. Technologically advanced as that was then, first-year revenues were a modest $86,000. Losses were double. Second-year revenues grew, but so did losses. “What am I doing here?” the CEO recalls asking himself. By 2009, LRDG broke even. Julius was indeed mastering the details. Today, LRDG’s annual revenues run comfortably into eight figures.

Surely becoming the foremost language learning platform in Canada took vision? “The original vision was survival,” says Julius bluntly, while acknowledging a golden opportunity that emerged from Canada’s Official Languages Act, one of the cornerstones of successive Pierre Trudeau governments.

In a 2004 report on the 35th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, the Official Languages Commissioner Dyane Adam rebuked federal agencies subject to the law for failing to live up to their legal obligations regarding official languages. She noted that only 86% of posts designated “bilingual” in the federal public service were occupied by workers who had effectively mastered Canada’s two official languages.

Amendments to the Act emboldened Julius. Confident in the potential for what would become a “learning management system” aimed at government workers, he began building an online platform or LMS. But prospects in Ottawa were intractable in the first five years: “We like classrooms. We don’t believe in anything else,” Julius recalls their objections. “They were the ‘experts.’” Until they weren’t.

Leading the Pack

When the federal government awarded LRDG a three-year standing offer in 2022, pre-approving its high-tech remote language platform for use by 350,0000 public-sector employees, it marked an inflection point in the group’s breakthroughs.

As the only firm pre-qualified to provide language e-learning and tutoring to government workers, the offer followed $2 million in upgrades to LRDG’s back-end infrastructure, user experience and performance. This included a digital accessibility boost by making the platform usable by users with visual, auditory and speech impairments, as well as cognitive and neurological disabilities.

Twenty years of development – a span that ushered in an effective reinventing of the language learning industry in Canada – paid off. Prior to that, explains COO Jeremy Frohlich, the sector burdened second-language learners under antiquated models that failed to deliver results. Today, LRDG is strategically positioned for the future, he says. “As a pioneer in education technology, we have long understood the advantage of blending online learning methodology with one-on-one tutoring.”

Topping the to-do list for Jeremy is streamlining LRDG via a “digital transformation” to modernize an already exceedingly capable high-tech company. This means a reimagining of LRDG’s communication protocols, business processes and interdepartmental information flows will ultimately result in platform upgrades to not only keep the company ahead of the curve technologically but nimbly adapt to work-at-home realities for scores of users. “Digital transformation means moving our company deeply online, allowing automation of systems and enabling our employees to work within an intelligent digital framework from anywhere,” he says.

That transformation plan will help drive growth to new heights.

More than 50,000 language learners have been tutored through LRDG since 2002. Its 90% success rate for workers who undertake Public Service Commission second-language tests speaks volumes. This wasn’t always the case. Before LRDG’s hybrid model emerged, in which tutors and pedagogical advisors coach students, course abandonment rates were a concern.

“Worldwide, 94% of online self-study is abandoned,” Julius explains. Decades ago, LRDG also suffered from students dropping out. “Not because our programs were bad, but because self-study systems, especially then, were not that sophisticated. They were very useful, but people needed motivation.”

The human touch is everything, which is why LRDG employs the best tutors and evaluators out there, individuals who are passionate, caring, and experienced in government exams. Tutors are present 17 hours a day, while learners have 24/7 portal access to interactive learning materials. Progress tracking and elaborate reports after each tutorial give learners blanket support. Oral comprehension and speaking activities and SLE simulation tests throughout its courses set LRDG apart from the pack.

Once it’s right, it’s right ” -Julius Frohlich, CEO

The Perfect Recipe

The company’s LMS is effectively a user nexus that governs success. The tutor sees everything, explains Julius. Customer service, sales staff, and, crucially, clients have full transparency over progress or lack thereof. “They are able to know exactly what is going on and what challenges a student may have. Therefore, they can direct the student to the right part of the software to study and give them the right guidance and motivation during practice sessions.

“Once it’s right, it’s right,” Julius said. “Our recipe is you learn with the computer and you practice with a human being.” The formula is three hours of “Once it’s right, it’s right” -Julius Frohlich, CEO computer-based study followed by one hour of interaction and practice with a professional. Today, that formula is the way the government teaches online. “They’ve adopted it, they like it, it works.”

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), a breakthrough customer, was an early adopter. That its IT and Learning Directorate was “forward-thinking” was a bonus. Over a decade ago, the tax-collecting agency agreed to certify a precursor to the company’s coveted LMS. “They liked it and certified it for the whole government,” Julius says.

That precipitated further investments that would supercharge the LMS with more granular monitoring, reporting and client-status functionality. “Knowing what the student is doing, how they’re doing … we added a whole monitoring system that was able to tell us. And that’s what the CRA liked.” In 2010, it was a model worth developing. Says Julius: “I could now see the years ahead of me, and in fact, we broke into every major ministry just about in the next five years.”

The Science of E-Learning

Through intensive research in e-learning through strategic partnerships with Montreal’s universities, LRDG has not only anticipated client needs related to the efficacy of ed-tech but, crucially, eradicated woeful inadequacies associated with traditional e-learning models. In other words, clients get far better results and more bang for their buck.

“The government started to realize that people in the ‘classroom world’ were not really getting the results they wanted.” LRDG built a system to monitor students, showing why desirable results did or didn’t manifest. However, it was the introduction of financial and ROI reporting tools that caught the eyes of Ottawa’s bean counters.

“The government began to see that we were building a system that gave them real information. Where the money was going, what they were getting for it,” Julius explains. “It wasn’t language that got the government excited, it was the ability to know what budgets they had budgeted, who had the money, and what they did with it.”

Unburdening the taxpayer is never a bad thing. No wonder Ottawa gushed over LRDG’s deep auditing functionality. Yet LRDG’s core strength is undeniably pedagogical, which is why today it remains the most influential company of its type in Canada.

How did it get there? Beyond Julius’s canny sales and marketing talents, LRDG has taken pains over the years to partner with Montreal universities in research areas of education technology and language learning in a drive to envision tomorrow’s e-learning markets. The overhaul of its LMS, which exceeded federal government expectations, has set the company up for new growth.

At the behest of Université de Montréal, LRDG now finds itself at the center of a $14 million consortium, part of whose mandate is to enhance human-computer interfacing.

The group comprises business heavyweights – CN, CAE, and National Bank, among others – that will help propel LRDG’s capacity to innovate, including the integration of AI technology, over the next five years. The objectives? A rebuilding of LRDG’s main platform to exceed increasingly stringent client requirements and widen the gap between itself and competitors.


Why Family Matters

As a loving patriarch and septuagenarian, Julius Frohlich has acquired wisdom. It could be argued he predicts clients’ needs. It is less esoteric than that. “The simple truth is that human beings love people who respect them. It starts with basic principles: You’re my customer, I respect you. I want to know what you need, and if I’m able to give you a solution, then I’ll tell you. If I can’t, it’s better for me to say I respect you and I cannot help you.”

These values permeate the Frohlich family, morals that continue to be transmitted down the generations to sons Jeremy and Jason. A guiding maxim has been the power of humility and openness to others’ ideas. This did not come overnight for Julius, upholding the old adage, with age comes wisdom.

“In my younger years, I was self-satisfied with how smart I was. Today, I realize I’m average. I’ve learned that we should always be open to learning and other people’s ideas. The business is just a machine. I may be a big part of it, but I have to honour every person in that machinery and give them the opportunity to shine. That’s especially true for my children.”

Indeed, as COO Jeremy relates, the family’s strategic discussions are often imbued with healthy debate. “We ultimately agree that we want the same things. Where we disagree slightly is how to get there.” Yet there’s consensus on LRDG’s medium-term plan of sharp growth. “We do what’s right,” says Jeremy. “And we do it together.”

Eastern Promise

The question is, how to improve an already brilliant formula? Besides organic growth (the company projects revenues of $30 million by 2026), one possibility is replicating its winning recipe in new pastures. China and its 1.4 billion citizens seem as good a market as any, but as LRDG discovered, the world’s most populous country threw up hurdles to entry. After stagnating for decades under the rigid totalitarian socialism of founder Mao Zedong, China’s economic changes had not been matched by political reform, and the Communist Party retained a tight grip on political life and much of wider society. For LRDG, it boils down to internet firewalls blocking its software access. That and China’s ban on e-tutoring, a sector in which fraud is rampant.

Ever the entrepreneur, Julius has turned to Taiwan, an island that has, for all practical purposes, been independent since 1950 but which China regards as a rebel region. Regardless, LRDG employs a half dozen workers there with a view to replicating its Canadian success story. Why? Taiwan’s “Bilingual 2030” policy, launched in 2021, aims to boost the competitiveness of its youth through second-language mastery.

Taiwan’s education ministry has earmarked special “beacon bilingual universities” to serve as regional centers to assist other universities with improving students’ English proficiency and implementing all-English teaching. Four such regional centers are expected by 2024, with 124 online all-English courses made available, and six regional centers by 2030, with 558 online courses.


Taiwan’s National Development Council says the policy will “further strengthen English communication skills of the citizens, especially young people, and bolster their global competitiveness.” Which is why LRDG is pursuing its Asian prospects aggressively. “We’re making progress, Julius asserts. “I think we will actually have a fairly major contract in the next months.”

Taiwan – bereft of firewalls and Chinese politics – continues to be an opportunity to deploy a new LRDG system, a government system that has been presented to both functionaries and Taiwanese corporations. Says Julius: “If that’s successful, then maybe from there, we can go to the mainland and get the bigger Chinese market.”

In the interim, Julius’s son, Jeremy, will continue to tighten the ship. And LRDG’s vision of unbridled growth? Does the family fully embrace it?

“We do, and it’s changed,” says Jeremy bluntly. “Until six months ago, it was to take this company to the space and grow into every single government in the world.” The vision is now laser-focused on generating tremendous value. While growth begets value, Jeremy quickly clarifies. “The next move is to validate Julius’s success and release his legacy.”

As Julius hands over LRDG’s reigns, his succession looks more and more like a spectacular success.