The director of sales at Rayovac discusses the company’s dedication to producing consistently good hearing aid and battery products.

Tom BegleyLocated in Madison, Wis, Rayovac Corporation has been involved in the hearing aid industry since the 1930s, developing the first portable hearing aid. However, the company abandoned this part of the business, donating its hearing aid patent to the industry. Today, Rayovac is a leading manufacturer and innovator of hearing aid battery technology. Hearing Products Report recently spoke with Tom Begley, Rayovac’s director of sales, about its hearing aid battery business.

Q How has Rayovac been an innovator in the hearing aid industry?

A Rayovac developed the first, what we call premium zinc air battery, in 1985. When it was introduced, it was 30% longer lasting than any hearing aid battery in the world. Based on this performance advantage, Rayovac immediately started to grow its market share. For example, another Rayovac innovation was development of the size 10 [battery] in 1986. Over the years, it has been the leading size 10 battery manufacturer. When we introduced it in 1986, it had 50 milliamp hours, and today the size 10 has 90 milliamp hours, so we have almost doubled the capacity of the battery.

This increased capacity provides the hearing aid wearer with almost double the life of the battery. But it does something else, too. It provides the manufacturer with the capability of adding increased features to their instruments. As a result, today’s hearing aid wearer is able to enjoy more features in their hearing device due to the capacity increases from Rayovac.

Other Rayovac innovations [include] a size 5 battery and a high-powered battery. I think one of the keys for Rayovac’s success in the industry is Rayovac’s strong relationships with the manufacturers. All the innovations we have introduced are the result of manufacturers’ requests to help move the industry forward. For example, we introduced the size 10 when the completely-in-canal (CIC) model hearing aid was only a gleam in the industry’s eye. But without a size 10 battery, it would have been impossible for the industry to develop a CIC hearing instrument. The higher capacity batteries we have produced over the years have helped in the introduction of digital devices which would have been very difficult to introduce due to their higher power requirements.

Q What is your position in the market?

A On a worldwide basis, we are the world’s largest manufacturer of hearing aid batteries. In fact, we sell more hearing aid batteries than all the manufacturers combined. One of the reasons for Rayovac’s importance in the industry is because these batteries are a large part of our corporation’s business. They are one of our core competencies. And that’s not always the case with other manufacturers.

Q Do you think digital hearing aids are going to change Rayovac’s business?

A We’ve been meeting with the industry on this since before digital was introduced. It’s not only Rayovac, but there are other key component manufacturers that do the same thing. And we all work together, the hearing industry as an industry, the manufacturers of the devices, the faceplates, the transducers, the microphones, the chips, we all work together to make a better product for hearing aid wearers.

Q How does Rayovac service its customers?

A Number one, we absolutely guarantee the battery. If there’s ever a problem with one of the manufacturers’ devices, and the battery caused it, we guarantee that we will either fix the device or replace it. Going beyond that, we work closely with the manufacturers’ quality control departments to ensure that they have a good product and that it works on a consistent basis.

Q Why do consumers use Rayovac batteries?

A We’ve done extensive research, and what consumers say is that the most important factor they consider when buying a hearing aid battery is “how long does the battery last”—57% of consumers said that battery life was most important to them. And, I think, over the years the dispensers and the audiologists around the world have identified themselves with Rayovac because we have consistently had the longest-lasting battery available.

N.L. Shepherd is a contributing writer for Hearing Products Report.