Wales remains passionate about bringing people ‘back to the world of sound’
Returning people to the world of sound. That’s what he’s been doing for 40 years.
“As long as the Lord give gives me good health I’ve got no plans to retire,” said Greg Wales, hearing instrument specialist and owner of Wales Hearing Center. “Providing help to people losing their hearing and bringing them back to the world of sound makes me feel great. I look forward to going to work every day.”
In 1974, after returning home from a four-year enlistment in the Air Force, Wales found a job through the Alexandria employment office working for a hearing aid company from Minneapolis.
MAICO (Minneapolis Acoustical Instrument Company) needed someone to follow-up on people in the Douglas, Pope, Stevens and Grant counties who had taken free hearing tests at the Minnesota State Fair and showed significant hearing loss. After completing some on-the-job training and a correspondence course through the International Hearing Society, Wales was sent out to locate these people and fit them with hearing aids. Many of the people were no longer available, but Wales got very familiar with the townships in the four-county area and soon had a network of places to conduct hearing evaluations and provide hearing aid assistance. Senior citizen centers, drug stores, motel rooms, and chiropractor’s offices were some such places.
In 1977, Wales Hearing Aid Service, as it was called then, opened a full-time office in Alexandria. In a couple more years, Greg’s wife, Connie Wales, joined him at the office and provided much needed help receiving patients and managing files.
Today, Wales Hearing Centers has four offices.
The Alexandria office is managed by daughter Pamela Wales, where she also receives patients as a certified master herbalist.
“As a family business, we’ve grown close to many other families throughout the area, some of whom we’ve provided three generations with hearing assistance,” said Wales. “We treasure this relationship and their confidence in us.”
Wales Hearing Center provides sales and service of all manufacturers’ products. Unlike franchised hearing aid practices, Wales Hearing Centers is able to select from all manufacturers and more closely match patients’ needs and financial situations. They accept all insurance programs and help patients by contacting their insurance companies to find out if they have hearing aid benefits and how much they allow. Patients who are veterans may get hearing aids through Veterans Affairs from Wales Hearing Center if approved by the VA. Wales Hearing Center also works with Starkey Hearing Foundations to provide free hearing aids to people with no other means to pay for hearing aids. In addition, Wales has recently advertised to encouraged people with hearing difficulty to bring in used hearing aids from relatives who no longer use them to be reconditioned and reprogrammed for their own use at a fraction of the cost of new instruments. “Even though only three out of 10 people who need hearing aids have them, there is no reason everybody who needs them shouldn’t have them,” he said.
“As the oldest of eight boys, I was taught by my mother how to cut hair. By the time I was in boarding school I was able to earn spending money cutting hair on campus. I was very comfortable working around ears,” he smiled. “Interest with guitars, microphones and loudspeakers familiarized me with the principles of acoustic amplification. Working with a janitor service at nursing homes during college taught me a lot about people with whom I would eventually spend the majority of my time. A stint in the Air Force as an electronic warfare systems specialist prepared me for solid state electronics and eventually today’s digital programmable hearing devices.
“The fact that my father, Donald Wales, had worked at MAICO as a design engineer in the 1950s also helped, as I knew what MAICO was and what they did when the employment office suggested I apply for work with them.”
Wales enjoys spending time with his seven children and their children, camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness, music, photography and raising sheep on a small farm site south of Brandon.
His other interests include different work with his church and supporting homeschooling. He’s a lifetime member of HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) and a lifetime member of the Vietnam Veterans of America.