HH/Beck: Hi Rick, how are you doing?
Gilbert: Doing great Doug. Nice to chat with you again.
HH/Beck: Thanks Rick. It was December 2000 when we did the first interview, and it seems like time for a follow-up. I think this product is very important and Im glad to help tell the readers a little about it. For people not familiar with you or Dry & Store, they can simply click into the original interview at the end of this one.
Gilbert: Thats great Doug.
HH/Beck: Rick, what I want to get across in this interview is the importance of daily and regular maintenance for all hearing aids. We covered a lot of the basics in the first interview, and that can be reviewed by clicking into it at the end of this interview. The take home message for the consumer is that maintenance is key, it cannot be ignored, and it needs to be done daily! There are no guarantees in life, except less daily maintenance leads to more annual repairs! However, I dont want to get ahead of our discussion. Just to briefly review, the primary product that you manufacture is the Dry & Store, is that correct?
Gilbert: Yes, thats the focus of our company. We refer to it as the Dry & Store Hearing Aid Conditioning System, but Dry & Store is fine too.
HH/Beck: How long have you been making the product and where is it manufactured?
Gilbert: Were coming up on five years of production. The first unit was made in November 1997 and the product is made right here in Johnson City, Tennessee.
HH/Beck: Rick, can you give me any idea as to how many Dry & Store units have been sold in the last five years?
Gilbert: The exact numbers are confidential, but I can tell you that were getting close to 100,000 units. Of course as you know, the Internet has allowed us to really expand and ship all over the world, and Audiology Online really helped push the product across the globe.
HH/Beck: And to summarize for the new readers, what is Dry & Store and what does it do?
Gilbert: Dry & Store was invented and developed by Dr. Dan Schumaier, a dispensing audiologist, out of frustration with the frequency of repairs his patients were experiencing. He researched drying technology and found that the most effective technology was a combination of heat, moving air, and a desiccant to adsorb the moisture that was released. He added a germicidal lamp to the appliance, which kills all sorts of bacteria, fungus and viruses that grown on hearing instruments. As a result, our product can not only dry humidity, cerumen and perspiration from hearing aids, it also disinfects and deodorizes them, reduces itching ears, and makes hearing instruments sound better. Dr. Schumaier called the product Dry & Store, but with the approaching introduction of our new product, we added Professional to its name. It has a fully automatic eight hour, digitally controlled operating cycle, and of course its an electrical appliance. So as you can see, its a lot more than an old style dry-aid kit.
HH/Beck: OK, lets talk a little about the new product. How is the new product different from the original? I know you guys were working on a smaller and less expensive model.
Gilbert: The new Dry & Store Global is smaller by one-half, and it will retail for just under $100 US. As you know, Dry & Store Professional is available only through professional channels, and its the only unit we have on the market today. However, the Professional unit was not intended for travel, and users have been after us to develop something portable. Thats what led us to design the Global model, which we hope to start shipping in late May or June.
The Global unit will be good for international users, and itll be easier to travel with. It is a DC product that can be used all over the world with one of the two available power supplies. Well ship the North American version with a 110 volt power supply, but overseas travelers can purchase a 230 volt supply that comes complete with plug adapters. Most of our export customers will receive the 230 volt power supply, of course.
HH/Beck: Rick, were there any compromises or trade-offs between the Professional and the Global model?
Gilbert: We didnt compromise, but there are distinct differences between the two models. The two-year warranty on Dry & Store Professional is twice as long as the Global warranty. The Professional model was designed for seniors, with a big two-section drawer that is easy to see and open. Folks with arthritis or a little difficulty with their eyes and fingers can still use the Professional model easily no grasping required. The Global model is smaller with a positive closing lid, so it takes more dexterity to open. The Professional model is available only through dispensing practices, and we refer patients to our customers when they call our toll free number or request a referral by email. The Global model will, of course, be sold through dispensing offices, but as a multi-channel product it can also be purchased on-line, through retail catalogs, and from other vendors.
HH/Beck: Rick, lets go ahead and give the contact information here.
Gilbert: The website is www.dryandstore.com and the toll free number is 1-800-327-8547.
HH/Beck: Rick, this is one of those products we can talk about all day along, but the real ah-hah message comes through when the patients see this and they realize how important it really is to protect their hearing aids. If youre spending $500 or $3000 dollars on a hearing aid, you need to protect that investment, and you need to perform regular maintenance. It is truly astonishing that more than three-fourths of all hearing aid repairs are due to maintenance issues such as ear wax (cerumen) in the hearing aid receiver or microphone, or corrosive moisture not being removed from the instrument. I always urge patients to purchase some sort of dry-aid box, and obviously the better the box, the better the protection. The Dry & Store is probably the Cadillac, and I do like it very much, but there are other moisture control boxes out there. The take home message is you must maintain the hearing aid(s) and maintenance is cheaper than repairs!
Gilbert: Absolutely Doug. Not only do you save money on repairs, but the hearing aids and the batteries tend to last longer when their owners use Dry & Store regularly. Our statistically random surveys of users show that three out of four say their hearing aids sound better too. Thats a real plus!
HH/Beck: OK Rick, all good points. I appreciate the update.
Gilbert: Thanks Doug, I appreciate the opportunity to tell people about our product, and were looking forward to unveiling the new model at AAA.
HH/Beck: Hi Rick, how are you doing?