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ReSound LiNX Quattro - March 2019

Interview with Alan P. Dozier, Executive VP of GN Resound and President of GN Resound Group and Barbara VanSomeren Vice-President of Marketing, Beltone

Alan P. Dozier, Barbara VanSomeren

April 17, 2001
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AO/Beck: Good Morning Alan and Barbara, thanks for spending some time with me this morning.

VanSomeren: Hi Doug, nice to speak with you again.

Dozier: Hi Doug, nice to meet you. Thanks for your time too.

AO/Beck: I'd like to focus this discussion a bit on Alan, his position and the impact his leadership will have on Beltone, GN Resound and the rest of your group. I understand that Alan has recently been brought on as Executive Vice President of GN Resound and President of the GN Resound Group in North America, is that correct?

Dozier: Yes. I joined the GN Resound Group on January 15th, 2001. So I am a newcomer to the hearing healthcare industry, but I am not a newcomer to healthcare! I was with Bausch and Lomb for 15 years in varying roles. I was president of their US Pharmaceutical division and I was president of North American Vision Care, which involved contact lenses, lens care and general eye-care products. I was also involved in various marketing roles with Bausch and Lomb. So I have dealt with opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists, and in some respects that is similar to the variety of hearing care providers in this industry --dispensers, audiologists and ENTs. Certainly, the combination of medical and technical creativity, and innovation is very exciting. I believe the industry and the professionals are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. I think we can look forward to working together to continue to develop better products and better acceptance of those products and consequently, much greater market penetration. I see enormous opportunity and I think we can significantly expand the hearing healthcare business.

AO/Beck: Alan, are you primarily focusing on the USA, or are you more globally oriented?

Dozier: Probably some 70 to 75 percent of my focus is North America. Nonetheless, I have global responsibilities including initiatives in Europe, the Asian-Pacific Rim and Latin America. The USA's hearing aid market represents about 35 to 40 percent of the world's market, and we are the number two manufacturer of hearing aids worldwide. So, getting back to your question - Yes, most of my focus will be on the USA, although I have responsibilities elsewhere too.

AO/Beck: Of the American market, what percentage of the market does your group have?

VanSomeren: In terms of units, we have roughly a 12-15% market share. In advanced technology products we have closer to a 20-25% market share. In terms of revenue, the GN ReSound Group worldwide has approximately 20-25% market share.

AO/Beck: Alan, how do you fit GN Resound and Beltone into one umbrella group? They have very different histories, different images, different products and different distribution channels.

Dozier: Absolutely correct. The two are very different. However, from my view, they are complimentary to each other, which helps give us a well rounded and solid foundation. For instance, Beltone has a hearing care network, and GN Resound competes in the multi-line environment. Both venues are important for us to reach the patients who need hearing help.,

AO/Beck: Alan, where have you focused your early energies within the corporation?

Dozier: For the last few months I have been focused on reconnecting with Beltone's customer base, and actively recruiting for a new President of Beltone US. We have been listening and engaging our Beltone organization in quickly acting to respond to the network in a high quality fashion, consistent with patient needs. I am also spending time with GN Resound on their new products, such as the Canta, which we'll be introducing this week at the AAA in San Diego.

AO/Beck: We all like to learn about new products, can you give me a brief description of the Canta and other new products?

Dozier: Canta is GN ReSound's new digital product line that introduced 3-D digital technology to the industy. For patients, brand new and sophisticated interactive features like adaptive directionality, adaptive microphone matching and spectral enhancement will bring new levels of speech quality and speech perception in noise benefits. 3-D digital technology also incorporates a sophisticated digital feedback suppression feature that virtually eliminates the risk of feedback and provides substantially more usable gain. New software brings the fitter several new fitting and fine tuning features as well, making this digital technology a leap forward in the application of digital technology for the hearing impaired.

Additionally, Beltone is introducing new digital BTE products including one of the smallest in the world. Also featured at AAA will be our enhanced fitting system called the AVE. (pronounced AVENUE), which the readers can read about on Audiology Online. We now have some compelling field data showing practices using AVE. are fitting better instruments with greater patient satisfaction.

AO/Beck: The article you are referring to is titled 'Audio Verification Environment: How to Present and Assess Real World Performance in the Office', and as the title implies, the authors talk about the AVENUE and its application of fitting hearing aids to the real world sounds and noises, rather than average speech in a quiet office.

AO/Beck: Alan, Over the past few years, Beltone has stepped up its presence, communication and support of audiology. Will we see a change?

Dozier: No, Beltone remains committed to supporting the audiology programs we have participated in.

VanSomeren: Beltone and its network are one of the largest employers of audiologists in the US. We have an inclusive and diverse network consisting of hearing instrument specialists, audiologists, AuDs and ENTs.

AO/Beck: Alan, do you see Beltone or GN Resound acquiring independent offices in the future?

Dozier: That is a not a significant part of our growth strategy at this time. We really don't want to be owners, although we are purchasing practices within our Beltone network. Owning and operating practices is not our goal. Many still believe Beltone is a franchise. We aren't. The Beltone network is the largest independent network. Our strength corporately is in manufacturing and marketing.

AO/Beck: Do you anticipate that GN Resound or Beltone will get more involved with disposable hearing aids?

Dozier: I believe there are many opportunities to provide patients with different technologies and services. In vision care, many years ago we learned that at the end of the day, the practitioner is the key link to the patient. In hearing healthcare the success of the product depends on the hearing care provider believing in and promoting the product to their patient. So, we will keep all our options open.

AO/Beck: Barbara, what can GN Resound and Beltone do to help all of us increase market presence and penetration?

VanSomeren:
We have been real champions of marketing and awareness. We're going to continue to support industry efforts such as BHI (Better Hearing Institute), HIA (Hearing Industries Association) and the AFA Audiology Foundation of America. We also believe in a broad marketing mix consisting of advertising, direct marketing, community outreach and physician marketing programs. Many audiologists have come to Beltone because they are looking for marketing techniques to help them grow their practices. We have a proven track record and will continue to develop marketing programs that help practitioners grow.

Dozier: Our industry requires a unique blending of highly technical, professional and personal expertise to inspire the end-users to successfully acquire and wear the product. This is really an unusual industry in many respects and it requires multiple, and to some extent duplicative and overlapping marketing efforts to successfully promote the product. I think we've been successful in the past, and will be successful in the future not only because of the products we manufacture, but because we know how to market the product in an ever changing marketplace.

AO/Beck: Can you tell me what other new projects you are working on?
VanSomeren: In the area of joint task forces, we've brought together new Advisory Boards within the Beltone network that will help us identify needs and determine local marketing programs and improvements in product quality. So we're now gaining more field input to plan major corporate initiatives.

AO/Beck: What about student involvement with GN Resound and Beltone?

VanSomeren : Beltone is the Gold Sponsor of NAFDA, and we sit on its Advisory Board. Additionally, Beltone does help place new audiologists in fellowship programs in Beltone practices across the country, and we'll be doing that at AAA later this week. GN Resound is also a NAFDA sponsor and has several initiatives to assist students in career development and placement. This year GN ReSound will present two NAFDA students with the AuD Academic Merit Scholarship Award. The recipients are selected from applications prepared by students enrolled full-time in an AuD program.

AO/Beck: Alan, please outline for me who's who in the corporate structure at Beltone and GN Resound and how can the readers contact them?

Dozier:


Beltone
4201 West Victoria Street
Chicago, IL 60646
800-621-1275

GN ReSound North America
8001 Bloomington Freeway
Bloomington, Minnesota 55420
800-248-4327

AO/Beck: I'd like to thank the two of you for your time this morning.

Dozier: You're welcome. Thank you too Doug. I've enjoyed reading Audiology Online and I think you guys are doing a terrific job educating and informing the audiologists about the news and information in the profession.
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Alan P. Dozier

Executive VP of GN Resound and President of GN Resound Group


Barbara VanSomeren