Silverman Current trends in this country place tremendous emphasis on the importance of family values, and the hearing health care community appears to be a strong reflection of this trend, as many businesses within the industry were launched as family projects. This month, Hearing Products Report (HPR) has the privilege of featuring three such successful businesses.

Oticon Inc (page 32) was established in 1904 by Hans Demant of Denmark, who hoped to develop a solution for his wife’s hearing loss. Since then, the company has evolved into an internationally renowned company within the industry. And, although the Demant family no longer controls Oticon, its management attributes the company’s success to adhering to traditional family values, like putting people first.

The second family-launched business in this issue is the Tulsa, Okla-based SeboTek Hearing Systems (page 24), founded by brothers Jim and Mike Feeley. With more than 20 years of audiology experience, the Feeleys were inspired to develop their PAC technology (a unit that could be easily repaired), after providing hearing health care to poor individuals in a severely financially challenged area of southern Mexico. The brothers work together on the improvement and development of SeboTek’s products.

In 1976, after training a dog for a deaf woman, dog trainer Roy Kabat was inspired to start a business that would provide service dogs to the deaf and hard-of-hearing. With $25,000 and a dream, Kabat had established Dogs for the Deaf by 1977, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Jackson, Ore. Kabat’s daughter, Robin Dickson, is now president and CEO of the organization, and says that Dogs for the Deaf has placed more than 800 service dogs across the country. Read more about this organization on page 26.

Business people who deal with individuals with hearing loss (or any disability) require special qualities, such as sensitivity, patience, flexibility, and an ability to communicate with people from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. These attributes are sometimes lost in corporate institutions. That is why it is refreshing to see traditional ethics and family values operating within many of the hearing health care companies HPR has encountered.

In the meantime, HPR will be exhibiting at AAA 2003 at booth 1337. Please stop by and introduce yourselves. See you in San Antonio.

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Rogena Schuyler Silverman
[email protected]