BOOM: Hear This! An Interview with Dean Pappous, President of HearingLife

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We are probably all familiar with MULO (multi-location) eyewear businesses like LensCrafters (900+ locations), Sunglass Hut (1,500 U.S. stores), and Warby Parker (200 locations and a booming online business). But people like Dean Pappous, believe our ears are every bit as critical as our eyes, especially as we age.

Hearing loss doesn’t just impact older people. A billion younger people are at risk of hearing loss by 2030.

Dean Pappous is the President of HearingLife, a nationwide hearing center with more than 600 locations.  The company offers assessments, insights into hearing issues, and a wide range of hearing aids. Hearing aids can cut the risk of hearing loss in half, and close to 30 million people can benefit from using them.

We met with Pappous recently to listen to his perspectives on health-related MULO brands and the path that led him to his role.

What led you to HearingLife?

“I spent more than two decades in the health and wellness industry, which I’m really proud of and passionate about. Before joining the HearingLife team, I was the Chief Operating Officer for Gold’s Gym International. I helped the team lead the evolution of the Gold’s Gym Team Member and Member experience into what it is today, elevating it to best-in-class by J.D. Power for two consecutive years. I was also responsible for sales, marketing, revenue management, fitness, real estate development, and facilities management.

Before joining Gold’s Gym, I spent over 20 years with 24 Hour Fitness. The company grew from a 24-location regional chain to more than 400 clubs.

I am passionate about health and helping people. I started my career as a part-time personal trainer and grew with the company. That’s why I’m still so excited to be with a company like HearingLife. They put a focus on the client and their wellness.”

HearingLife Has its Roots Back in 1904! What’s the Origin Story?

“HearingLife is part of the Demant Group, founded in 1904 by a man who was determined to help his wife Camilla lead a better life when she began to suffer from hearing loss. But he didn’t care just about her hearing. He cared about her as a unique individual.

Demant expanded and continued to acquire hearing centers and is an internationally-recognized leader in personalized hearing care. Although HearingLife is rapidly growing, personalized care (like what the founder wanted for his wife) is still a focus.”

Who is the typical HearingLife consumer?

“Our largest demographic is adults over 55, although we help people of all ages. Our main goal is listening to our clients, who often come to us unsure of what comes next or what hearing loss means for their lives. We view them as more than a number — they are unique people needing care and reassurance.”

NOTE: Hearing loss among young people is on the upswing!

Eyewear is viewed as a fashion accessory. How do you overcome the stigma of wearing hearing devices?

“HearingLife provides subtle flesh-toned hearing devices that are often unnoticeable. We are always working to destigmatize hearing aids. We encourage our clients to embrace them and appreciate the quality of life they provide rather than view them as a sign of aging.”

What’s new in the hearing device world? How is technology being applied?

“The Oticon Real is the newest group of premium hearing care products. They are designed with BrainHearing technology to support the brain’s natural hearing capabilities. These new releases are vital. Connectivity advancements in recent years are a game-changer. Consumers can manage and track their hearing in diverse environments and the fact that the devices are “cool” and tech-centric helps remove any potential stigma.”

What are your expansion plans?

“We just announced the acquisition of five new hearing care centers in Pennyslvania. We are continuing and accelerating our expansion efforts nationwide.

Our most popular service is our complimentary hearing assessments.

HearingLife sees a real and sustained trend in self-care and wellness. People want to live their best and are willing to invest time and money in all aspects of their health and are increasingly unwilling to compromise. We’re committed to providing the best care and outcomes and not just sell products.”

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.