A hearing aid company promising revolutionary new technology that can change people’s lives has opened shop in Palos Heights — its first unit in Illinois.
“We are the new kid on the block, and we hope to be here for a long time,” said Karen Liddell, franchisee of Zounds, at 7202B W. 119th St., in the Tiffany Square shopping center, Route 83 and Harlem.
Based in Phoenix, Ariz., Zounds designs, manufactures and sells hearing aids for people with mild to profound hearing impairments.
The company was founded by electrical engineer Sam Thomasson, whose daughter, Kate, lost much of her hearing due to an illness when she was a toddler and later struggled — as many do — with the limitations of conventional hearing aids. Thomasson and his team of engineers searched for solutions, amassing more than 50 patents and fitting Kate with her first Zounds prototype at age 16.
The “breakthrough” technology, according to Thomasson, changed his daughter’s life. Today, according to a company brochure, she is a college student studying electrical engineering.
That life-changing technology is a key to the success of Zounds, Liddell noted.
“I fell in love with the ‘Sam and Kate’ story,” she said. “It’s a story of father’s love for his daughter. How great is that? I want to be in a position to make that kind of a difference in people’s lives, and I believe I am.”
Liddell, an accountant, said she became a Zounds franchisee because she “was facing a layoff in my industry, and I’m too young to retire.”
She decided to go into business for herself and started shopping for a franchise opportunity with several companies, “but I wanted to go into business with people you can trust and make a connection with. That’s why I chose Zounds.”
She said that Zounds offers several clear advantages over others.
“First, we are the leader in technology,” she added. “Second, we are buying hearing aids directly from the manufacturer, so we’re the price leader — offering hearing aids at $999 each when others’ cost several times more. Third, we offer same-day fittings. So people come in here with hearing loss, and within two hours they’re going to leave hearing better, and that can change their lives. That’s what sets us apart from our competitors.”
Zounds also offers free hearing exams, remote-control programming, and rechargeable batteries and charging station.
A native of Chicago’s South Side and current resident of Homewood, Liddell is quick to credit and praise her staff — Jeff Clark, a state-licensed hearing instrument specialist, and Rachel Nelson, customer service representative. “I am blessed to have a real A-Team here, and I am certain our clients will agree.”
Clark, with nearly a decade’s experience in the field, said he has found a real home at Zounds.
“Most places are about selling hearing aids,” he said. “I wanted to work at a place where we’re about caring for people. [At Zounds] I don’t have to worry about selling a hearing aid, because our prices are lower than everyone else’s. I can focus on what’s important, which is making it work for that customer. We take that very seriously here.”