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Unitron Hear Life - November 2023

Interview with Cameron Hay President and CEO, Unitron Hearing

Cameron Hay

April 4, 2005
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Topic: Unitron Hearing Overview 2005
Beck: Good Morning Cameron. Thanks for joining me today.

Hay: Hi Doug. Nice to meet with you.

Beck: Cameron, if you don't mind, I'd like to start with your professional history and education?

Hay: Yes, of course. My first degree was in Industrial Engineering from the University of Manitoba, Canada, which I earned in 1989. I started my career as an engineer at IBM's microelectronics division in Toronto, Canada. In 1994, I enrolled in the MBA program at the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, and in 1996, I joined Ernst & Young as a senior manager in their management consulting group. My focus at Ernst & Young was in business strategy and process improvement for multinational high-tech companies.

Beck: And from there you joined Unitron Hearing?

Hay: Yes. I joined Unitron Hearing in 2002. I started as the general manager and chief operating officer (COO) and I recently became the president and chief executive officer (CEO).

Beck: And so now with your new responsibilities, beyond operations and the actual Unitron Hearing infrastructure, you also have Research and Development (R&D), global sales and marketing to oversee?

Hay: Yes, that's right. My new role is much broader, with far more direct customer and market contact, which is very exciting to me.

Beck: Cameron, my understanding is that Phonak owns Unitron Hearing...is that correct?

Hay: Yes, we're a subsidiary of the Phonak group. But as I like to point out, we're not "Phonak Lite." We remain a strongly Canadian company, with our own global marketing, sales, distribution and R&D functions. We have a unique perspective on the market, and provide unique value to our customers that is complementary and distinct to Phonak's, while still being able to leverage the advantages of being part of the Phonak Group.

Beck: Cameron, how large is Unitron Hearing, with respect to its global business?

Hay: My estimate is that we have about 3.5 percent of the global market. In Canada, our "home court advantage" provides us with a market leadership position, and in the USA, we have a very impressive growth record over the past few years. We have also been investing in distribution channels around the world over the past few years as we extend Unitron Hearing's position globally.

Beck: What can you tell me about the corporate focus, or the niche of Unitron Hearing?

Hay: Great question. Historically, Unitron Hearing focused primarily on BTEs and analog devices and over its 40 year history have always had a great reputation for high quality, reliable hearing instruments. In the past three years, we've greatly expanded our R&D capabilities in digital signal processing, custom made devices and software development. About 2.5 years ago, we launched Unison, a full range of ITE and BTE devices, which became the most successful product in Unitron Hearing's history in the USA and globally.

Beck: What was it about the Unison line that made it so successful?

Hay: Well, it was a combination of things. We focused a great deal of effort on maximizing spontaneous acceptance while keeping the fitting process simple. Our QUICK FIT process provides a very high rate of "first time smiles". So we've taken a little different approach from most manufacturers. Rather than providing the latest and greatest technological innovations for their own sake, we focus our advancements on addressing the everyday problems of both patients and professionals.

Beck: So the focus is not necessarily on innovation, so to speak?

Hay: We do indeed have an extremely innovative R&D group, but instead of focusing of the latest technologies for their own sake, we constantly think about the application of new technologies towards improving the daily experience of our hearing aid wearers and the professionals that fit our products. We believe this focus can provide enormous benefits for our customers. The potential to create experiences that end users and professionals would rank as "excellent" is almost completely untapped.

Beck: I believe the Unitron Hearing product line has four brands...would you please review them for me?

Hay: Sure Doug. I'll describe our product offering from our Basic product offering through to our Premium. Unitron Hearing's product offering in the Basic category is the Breeze™ digital line. Breeze is a digital signal processing (DSP) unit, but it's controlled with trimmers. It has an analog price point with a DSP brain. Breeze is priced to be accessible to markets that otherwise would not be able to gain the benefits of digital technology, and doesn't require expensive and un-portable dispensing and support technology. Visit the Unitron website to view the Breeze e-pamphlet.

In the Essential category, we have Unison™, as we mentioned earlier. The Unison™ Series is all about choices so hearing healthcare professionals can fit more clients with digital. Unison is available in three models with a choice of processing strategies to fit the widest variety of hearing losses, lifestyles and budgets. Unison 6 is really ideal for active clients and offers a choice of 4 processing strategies to provide maximum flexibility to customize, as well as an adaptive feedback canceller to improve comfort. Unison 3 is ideal for clients exposed to fewer environments, has a choice of 2 processing strategies to provide fitting flexibility, and a multiband feedback manager to eliminate fit-related feedback. Unison Essential, the most basic Unison product, is ideal for budget conscious clients and those making the transition from analog instruments. Again, the Unison brand is our most popular product because we are offering more choices to better meet the needs of more clients. Visit the Unitron website to view the UNISON e-brochure.

At the AAA in Washington DC in 2005, we introduced our most sophisticated product in the Advanced category, Conversa.NT™. Conversa.NT is a great example of what I was talking about earlier: offering excellence and offering advanced technologies to meet the listening demands of patients, giving them a positive listening experience. Conversa.NT features a core set of technologies to improve conversations in more listening situations. Spectral enhancement technology identifies speech and increases gain in those channels where it is present. Intelligent noise reduction also identifies noise and reduces gain in those channels where it is present to provide greater comfort in more listening situations. Conversa.NT Moda™ is our new, smaller 10a BTE. Conversa.NT Moda is ideal for those with mild and high-frequency losses who are seeking the most discreet BTE. In addition to Moda's exceptionally small profile, it provides a choice of standard earhook or the all-new slim tube fitting. This open fitting reduces occlusion, is very comfortable, and provides more natural sound. The slim tube is less visible in the ear and especially well suited to new wearers. Conversa.NT will be available worldwide in May 2005. Visit the Unitron website to view the Conversa.NT e-brochure. Click here to see the Moda e-brochure

Our Premium product offering is Liaison™. Liaison is the most automated product we make. Liaison™ offers the ideal balance of automatic and personalized performance. For instance, Liaison is maximally adaptive. In other words, Liaison automatically adjusts itself with respect to signal detection, directionality, signal-to-noise ratios, noise cancellation and feedback reduction. So Liaison is the very top of the line with all features maximized and automatically driven by the hearing instrument. Visit the Unitron website to view the Liaison e-brochure.

Beck: And lastly, before I let you go, I know that you've recently introduced the WiFi Mic Digital Wireless CROS /BiCROS system. Can you tell me about WiFi Mic?

Hay: Yes, thanks for asking! We released WiFi Mic BTE in the summer of 2004 and an ITE-to-ITE system in April of this year. These products represent a nice step forward for people that use CROS and BiCROS systems as they allow the signal to be transferred from the mic/transmitter to the receiver via wireless transmission, so the patient does not have to wear or care for the connecting wires, as there are no wires! WiFi Mic will be available in North America with the Liaison™ , Conversa.NT™ and Unison™ 6, 3 and Essential product families in May 2005. Click here to see the WiFi Mic e-brochure.

Beck: OK Cameron. Thanks so much for your time. It's a pleasure to meet you, and I thank you for the overview.

Hay: Thank you too, Doug. I'm glad to meet you, and I appreciate your time too.

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To learn more about Unitron Hearing, visit the Unitron website.

Please view CONSUMER based e-pamphlets:

Liaison Consumer Pamphlet

Conversa Consumer Pamphlet

Unison Consumer Pamphlet

Breeze Consumer Pamphlet

WiFi Mic Consumer Pamphlet
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Cameron Hay

President & CEO, Unitron



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