It was 34 years ago when Steve Barlow decided he was ready for a change.
He had grown frustrated with his career in restaurant management, working long, irregular hours and managing teenagers who didn’t share his commitment and work ethic.
Through a relationship he had developed with a regular restaurant customer, Barlow moved into the hearing aid business as a salesman for a Beltone franchise. He soon bought the franchise and spent the 1980s and most of the ’90s growing the Louisville, Ky.-based franchise to five locations.
However, in 1999, with Beltone moving in another direction under new ownership, Barlow and two other Beltone franchisees left the company and formed Hearing Healthcare Management, the umbrella organization that now oversees Avada Audiology and Hearing Care Centers. In 2000, Barlow was named CEO.
Since he and his colleagues struck out on their own, Barlow has focused on leading Avada to the top of its industry. In order to build the company, Barlow has focused on finding other franchisees who share his vision, work ethic and desire to be the best option for their customers. Franchisees who sell their businesses to Avada are made directors in the organization and are kept involved in the day-to-day operations of Avada as regional managers.
Barlow and his leadership team have forged a positive working relationship with Avada’s supply partner, the selection of which took a full year to materialize due to the meticulous research and detailed relationship-building that Barlow undertook with a number of potential supply partners.
Moving forward, one of the biggest challenges facing Barlow is sales-related. Many of Avada’s potential customers might not know that they have a hearing deficiency or might not want to admit it. But if history is any indicator, Barlow is up to the challenge.
How to reach: Avada Audiology and Hearing Care Centers, (502) 253-9802 or www.avada.com