At Audio ‘D’ & Finetone Hearing Aid Center & Labs, they can create a hearing aid for almost anyone in an onsite lab at 885 Roosevelt Trail in North Windham. They offer services for anything hearing and hearing aid related, said Ted Gauthier, hearing aid specialist and son of the owner Ed Gauthier. “Testing, fitting, testing for truck drivers for DOT, we do all hearing aid related services,” he said.
Hearing aids have changed a lot in the 30 plus years the Gauthier family has been working in the industry. Ed created a chip for a hearing aid in the 1980s, but when asked if it was still being used today, the employees laughed because everything is much smaller than it was then. The technology today is more impressive, where hearing aids can work with a cell phone through Bluetooth or can act as speakers with a TV, putting the sound directly into the hearing aids.
“Hearing aids today are really good functionally and they’re starting to get fun,” Gauthier said.
When Gauthier was a boy, his childhood friend’s younger sister was an “absolute nightmare,” everyone yelled at her, he said. “Her problem was hearing loss. That drove home to him, me and the family the importance to hearing. No one shouts ‘I love you’,” he said.
In the 1990s Audio ‘D’ was acquired from a company that both Gauthiers worked at. They named it Audio ‘D’, with the D standing for Dynamics. In 1999, they acquired Finetone Hearing in Maine. “The two product lines complemented one another really well,” said Gauthier.
In 2001 and 2002, the company had a major shakeup, redefined the business model and stopped working with clinical trials and product modeling, moving in to manufacturing hearing aids. “We focus on niche products as opposed to trying to compete head to head with the big boys,” Gauthier said. Audio ‘D’ has a product line of approximately 45 different models. The direct to customer sales provides them with cost savings, he added.
Teri Gauthier is the audiologist and Ted Gauthier is the hearing aid specialist. “Her education is more diseases of the ear and balance, while my education is very heavily on getting and understanding hearing aids,” Ted said. “Together we make a good team.”
Being located in Windham is convenient when “something silly happens,” like rolling over in a kayak, getting into the shower with the hearing aid in, or going on water skis without taking them out. These are all things that have happened, according to Gauthier. Patients bring their hearing aids in and they can be fixed within a day, usually.
Customers come from as far away as Connecticut and Vermont for service. Occasionally, Gauthier will go to someone’s home to fix a hearing aid, however, they have more tools and controls in the office, Ted said.
Hearing problems are not just for the elderly. “Seventeen percent of people in their 30s have enough hearing loss to warrant hearing aids,” said Ted. “Hearing loss is a prevalent, chronic condition in the US.”
Most people think of hearing loss as an inconvenience, but that hearing loss, if not checked, can cause problems that can affect a job, relationships, can increase the likelihood of getting dementia and falling. “The quality of life differences are huge,” Ted said.
The office is going through a remodel and will have more displays up at the end of the month. They are open for business and welcome new patients. They offer free hearing tests, and even if it shows no need for hearing aids, having a baseline is a good thing.
Audio ‘D’ is not a high pressure atmosphere. “We’re looking to find the right solution to help someone. It’s not about the hearing aid, it’s about the people.
For more on the company, visit www.finetonehearing.com, call 893-2930 or follow them on Facebook.