In order to understand the story of Ear Level Communications, we first have to start with my story. I am a second generation Hearing Instrument Specialist. My mother, Kay Potter, is a Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist and Licensed Vocational Nurse.
Throughout my youth, I grew up around hearing aids and the hearing aid business. I was also a passionate musician. I have been a guitarist, bassist, trombonist, vocalist, and music aficionado as long as I can remember. I majored in trombone in college. There was a time at which I really wanted to be a professional musician. Of course, as I grew into adulthood, I found making a living as a musician is very challenging.
In order to supplement my income, I worked in restaurants, and by age 21 I was a General Manager of a two million dollar per year operation. I truly loved working with people, managing a business, but after years working in the Restaurant Management arena, I really wanted a position that involved less nights and weekends so that I could spend more time with my family.
I looked to what my mother did every day – helping people hear better and teaching them to communicate more effectively – and decided I wanted to try this as my career path.
I absolutely loved it. I loved helping people communicate with their families better. I loved the relationships I developed with my clients. Also, I found that I was good at it. Something about my music background gave me the ability to understand the performance of the hearing instruments, and the descriptions my clients were giving me about what they were hearing, and how they wanted things to sound. I was able to really understand the way hearing instruments process sound, provide results for my clients that exceeded their expectations, and outperform many of my peers – even some with advanced Doctoral degrees in Audiology. I then chose a musician to train as an apprentice. He took to the field as quickly and naturally as I did.
I was on to something.
When I decided to open my own company, I wanted to train musicians to fit hearing instruments. I found that when training them, they just “got it” quicker than anyone else I had trained. First came Troy Walker. He took to the profession quickly. His patients loved working with him and really appreciated his expertise, which also surpassed most people in the field very quickly.
Since Troy, we’ve trained quite a few more musicians to do this, and developed a training program specifically for musicians to transfer their abilities to what we do. Every one of them have done very well. Every employee I have on staff passed their state board exam the first time around, and the exam typically has a 60% failure rate. Every one of them is a hand picked advanced level musician, trained in the art and science of fitting hearing instruments, who understand sound in a way that no traditional Hearing Aid Specialist or Amplification Consultant can. This is the standard for an Ear Level Amplification Consultant. You won’t find a staff like it anywhere else.
The truth is, our experience as musicians and our dedication to proper training give us the ability to serve you in a way that’s, well, unheard of.
Once I had identified my ideal staff, it was time to design the facility. I had been in the “hearing healthcare business” for quite a few years, and something had always bothered me about most hearing aid practices – from the best to the worst:
I’m not actually in the Hearing Healthcare Business. Neither is any other hearing instrument specialist or audiologist- once you think about it for a minute.
Let me explain: You see, your doctor is in the healthcare business. He diagnoses, treats, and cures diseases. He or she does something we could never do; diagnose you with a condition and treat it. People in my line of work (whether it be state licensed dispensers, Nationally Certified Specialists, or Audiologists – even at the doctoral level) are not medical doctors. We don’t diagnose or prescribe. We provide relief from symptoms. If there is any indication of hearing problem being medical in nature, we are compelled and required to refer you to a physician.
We’re in the communication business.
Because of this distinction, I saw no reason to make my offices feel clinical. My goal is to provide a technologically advanced facility that is fun, comfortable, and inviting. When you walk into our facilities, you’ll notice you won’t find any white walls, any lab coats running around, or any kind of “medical vibe.” We’re in the business of helping you communicate more effectively – we’re not “playing doctor.”
Another big difference at Ear Level is our equipment. We offer a wide range of hearing aids and prices for our products, and we back up those instruments with the most advanced fitting equipment available. What good is a fantastic hearing aid fit with equipment that was available 20 years ago? Our offices are equipped with software based audiometry for state of the art testing, video otoscopy, large flat panel monitors, real ear measurement, and live speech mapping technology.
If your hearing aid professional is asking you to spend thousands today, but is still using 15-year-old equipment, you should probably give us a try.