In a family-owned business, it’s custom to treat customers like part of the family. And for the employees of Tobin Hearing Center, there’s nothing more important than doing so. The business, 4815 W. Russell Road, has operated under three generations since 1945.
“It’s life-changing in here,” said Cindy Clark, hearing instrument specialist and chief operating officer. “There’s a lot of tears shed in this office out of joy.”
While the center helps everyone, Clark said it caters to disadvantaged individuals by hosting community events.
“We average about 10 events a month by offering free screenings in mobile home parks and apartment complexes,” Clark said. “It’s fun because we’re out in the community helping people who need it the most.”
In addition, the center provides in-house financing for patients who have bad credit, according to owner James Tobin.
“When the economy tanked, we had patients that finally came in wanting help for their hearing, and we had to walk them out the door,” Tobin said. “We did that for so long that we finally said, ‘There has to be a better way to get these people help.’ ”
Tobin provides interest-free payment plans that start at $20 a month. He said all his patients receive the same high quality hearing aids regardless of how they pay.
“We trust our patients, and there’s never any issues because no one skips their payments,” Tobin said. “It’s really a win-win situation, and we’re just fortunate we can do this.”
The center was founded by Tobin’s grandfather Francis, who quit school in the eighth grade to work during the Great Depression.
The Missouri native moved to Las Vegas in the early 1940s and opened the city’s first hearing center in a room at the Overland Hotel, now the Las Vegas Club.
Tobin said his grandfather launched his career by giving hearing tests to slow-learning children and found that about half had hearing problems.
“When he came to Las Vegas, there weren’t a lot of senior citizens yet,” Tobin said. “He didn’t factor that in when he started the business, but it didn’t stop him.”
In 1966, Tobin’s father John took over the business and helped create the Nevada Board of Hearing Specialists. About 20 years later, Tobin began running the center after becoming licensed.
“This industry was really tough at first because the technology was more hype than anything else,” Tobin said. “I want to help people. That’s my motivation, of course. But with the technology now, it’s also a lot of fun.”
Clark said the center provides modern hearing aids that are typically waterproof and smaller than a jellybean. About two months ago, it started offering devices that can pair to an iPhone or iPod.
“It allows you to take your phone calls or listen to music right through your hearing aid,” Clark said. “It also has a geotagging feature. So, if you go to a loud (place) every day, we can put a program in your device that will automatically set your hearing preference once you walk into the location.”
With the help of Tobin’s children, the business is on track to be passed down to a fourth generation.
Tobin’s daughter Taylor, 21, is learning how to manage the front desk and billing while his son Nick, 19, wants to become a licensed hearing instrument specialist.
“If you asked me 20 years ago if I wanted my kids to take over the business, I would have said no. It was a tough industry,” he said. “But with the way technology has changed and evolved, I would absolutely want them to now. They’re talking about it, and I really hope they do.”
For more information, visit tobinhearingcenter.com.
Contact Henderson View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0403.