Nick Raymo takes ownership at Southwest Hearing
WORTHINGTON — When the possibility of a career in hearing technologies was first broached to Nicholas Raymo, he was a bit skeptical.
“I had no interest,” he admitted, “but after sitting here and observing and seeing how we’re capable of helping people, I decided it was a way to help people, make an honest living and change lives.”
Raymo joined the team at Southwest Hearing Aid Center four years ago and recently took over the business from former owner Glad Henning, renaming it Southwest Hearing Technologies. The new title better reflects the business’ wide range of products and services —which are advancing by leaps and bounds through advances in technology. Soon, Raymo said, people will be able to answer their cellphones through their hearing aids.
“Anything that’s supposed to be in your ear, we can customize it to make it comfortable,” Raymo said. “In just the last four years, seeing this technology evolve has just been unbelievable. … We can help you not just to hear other people, but to connect you into the electronic age. But we can also do just a basic hearing aid. It’s all what the consumer wants.”
While many of Southwest Hearing Technologies’ customers are older people who have noticed a hearing loss as they have aged, Raymo notes his business provides services for people ranging in age from 2 to 103.
“Our customers are getting younger,” he said. “People are becoming more aware (of hearing loss). Ten years ago, it was a stigma to wear a hearing aid. Now people are more willing, because they are smaller, more discreet.”
Whether a customer just walks through the door or makes an appointment in advance, Raymo and his staff take the time first to sit down and discuss concerns.
“We talk before we do an evaluation, because a hearing aid is not always the answer,” he said. “We’ll ask them a series of questions — what they’re experiencing difficulty with, family history —to try and understand what we’re looking to do so we have a common goal.
“The only thing we can never fix is selective hearing,” he added with a laugh.
After the initial consultation, a video scope is used to look inside the ear and determine if there are any visible problems. If deemed necessary, the customer will eventually be fitted with a hearing device.
“Our main manufacturer is Starkey Hearing Technologies,” said Raymo. “The world headquarters is in Eden Prairie, and they are the only company to offer 100 percent USA products, which are dispensed worldwide. We consider ourselves a hometowner for them — we have great access to training and new technology because we are located so close.”
Additionally, Southwest Hearing Technologies works with all manufacturers if repairs or services are needed.
“We’re kind of the jack of all trades when it comes to hearing,” said Raymo. “We wear lots of different hats, and that’s what makes it unique and fun.”
In addition to the Worthington office, there are Southwest Hearing Technologies sites in Pipestone and Windom, and Raymo offers outreach services to senior living and care facilities throughout southern Minnesota and into northwest Iowa. He is licensed as a certified instrument dispenser in both Minnesota and Iowa.
Raymo feels the outreach to the senior communities is especially important, since many older people aren’t able to make a trip into the office.
“We’ll put our service up against anybody’s,” he said. “We’re not just going to sit back and wait for them to come to us.”
Since he’s on the road several days a week, Raymo relies on his staff to hold down the fort and continue to provide quality service to all their customers. The staff includes Sue Larsen, personal care coordinator; and three customer service representatives, Mary Olsem, Marj Heeren and Donna Van’t Hul. Raymo’s wife, Tasha, a teacher at Prairie Elementary, also helps out on occasion.
Raymo encourages anyone who might have a concern about their hearing or who has an interest in protecting hearing through the new technologies to stop in and see what Southwest Hearing Technologies has to offer. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; or any other time by appointment. The Worthington office is located at 907 McMillan St. For more information, phone 376-4407.
Daily Globe Features Editor
Beth Rickers may be reached