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Kristopher Rookey is one of the principals at Upstate Hearing in downtown Oswego. He and his partner are hearing instrument specialists.

New Hearing Aid Shop Betting on Low Prices

Upstate Hearing owners invested $70K in new Oswego downtown office. They say their prices are 40% to 50% less than the competition

By Alexandre Plate

Downtown Oswego has a new healthcare provider, specifically focused on helping patients hear their best.

Upstate Hearing, owned by Oswego locals Kristopher Rookey and Clayton Andrews — both hearing instrument specialists — opened in September  in the Manipulations Massage Therapy building on West Bridge Street.

Andrews is the junior partner in the business and has worked in the corporate hearing care industry for over 30 years. He says that the main focus on the business in Oswego is to provide low-cost premium hearing care to the community.

“We made a decision a couple years ago that we wanted to do something different, so what we’re doing is that we price our hearing aids at 40% to 50% less than our competitors,” Andrews said.

Andrews and Rookey are offering premium hearing aids exclusively, which come with technological upgrades beyond the standard hearing aid system, like dynamic soundscape detection, Bluetooth connectivity and rechargeable batteries. Their prices start at around $2,000 for a pair.

When a patient visits Upstate Hearing, the goal is to establish a relationship between the provider and the patient. Andrews said that not only do they consciously take their time when serving a patient, but they also try to get the patient exactly what they are looking for.

“Anybody that comes and gets a test done here, we let them leave with a set of hearing aids for a week.” Andrews said. “What that hearing aid does is it looks for up to seven different listening environments, so we can see their hearing lifestyle, which is beyond their prescription.”

Once a patient has had their trial hearing aids for the week, they go back to the office and the data their units have collected is fed into a computer program that analyzes it all. The result is not only a hearing aid that fits the patient’s prescription, but it also has been fine-tuned to exactly how that patient uses their hearing in their everyday life. This can help inform the provider of what type of hearing aid the patient would be happiest with.

Andrews and Rookey are breaking common practices in other ways as well. Not only are their hearing aids comparatively much cheaper than their competition, but their returns policy is also more forgiving too. In New York state, customers have 35 days to return their hearing aids after they first buy them, and the provider can withhold 10% of the total as a nonrefundable service fee. At Upstate Hearing however, every cent that the business collects gets returned to the customer.

Altogether, Andrews and Rookey took eigth months to get the office ready for customers and sunk about $20,000 into the space and the tools they needed, plus another $50,000 for inventory. Things like listening booths to test hearing acuity, plus the computer programs and other tools needed to service and maintain the hearing aids themselves can cost quite a lot. Andrews said that it is not uncommon for a hearing practice to require $50,000 to $100,000 worth of initial investment.

Both Andrews and Rookey work at a larger practice in Ogdensburg, and Andrews said that is where the two make their money.

“The goal here is to get the word out to the community and become a resource for Oswego for inexpensive, premium hearing healthcare,” Andrews said.