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Almost 33 years of helping people hear better gives Hearing Instrument Specialists owner Reg McCutcheon satisfaction.

He was licensed in 1986 and loves his job.

“I enjoy helping people hear better, it is just very pleasurable,” he said. “People ask me when I’m going to retire but I enjoy what I do. As long as I can be competent in my ability to do it, I will continue on.”

He has condensed his business, cut his office hours and serves as his own receptionist to lower overhead costs. His office hours are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday, and his afternoons are spent going to clients that can no longer come to him.

“After this long of period of time I have a number of shut-ins that can’t get out,” he said. “I take the afternoon time for them. My patients have the idea that that’s what I do. They can call me if they can’t come during my usual hours.”

McCutcheon calls himself the “old local guy” not just because he’s been in business for so long but because he’s in town with hearing aids and parts in stock. He’s even got “loaners” while customers are waiting for their specific aid to come in.

“When someone has hearing aids and gotten use to them and something goes wrong, they need them now,” McCutcheon said. “They don’t want to wait two weeks.”

Hearing Instrument Specialists has over 1,000 customers due to honesty, integrity and commitment.

“I’m not sure I’m better than everyone else, but I’m more picky,” McCutcheon said. “I don’t fit cheap junk. I’ve got patients that have been doing business with me for over 30-years and they know I’ll give them the straight story.”

His ability to fix hearing aids in Hamilton saves customers time and money.

“Maybe it’s a filter that is plugged and it takes me 30 seconds to fix it with no cost involved,” McCutcheon said. “How would you like to drive to Missoula for a 30-second fix and spend another hour driving back?”

McCutcheon’s experience with a variety of hearing aids has gained him many customers who are veterans.

“They like that I will adjust their aids for them and not charge them anything even though they didn’t get them from me,” he said. “For years I fit veterans before we got the Veterans Administration and I’ve testified that we needed to take better care of the veterans especially on hearing aids. They were fitting veterans with junk now they fit them with better hearing aids.”

New in the industry is the ability to answer the phone with a hearing aid. The technology has been available for a couple months and already McCutcheon has fit about 30 sets.

“It is really, really cool,” McCutcheon said. “You call me, I can answer the phone just by tapping my hearing aid. Nothing around my neck, it is direct Bluetooth, It is so great to not have to pull your phone out of your pocket. I’ve been waiting for this for years and they aren’t terribly expensive.”

The range is good with the hearing aid wearer needing to only be within 35-feet of the phone.

“I can leave the phone on my desk and still answer my phone,” McCutcheon said. “All of the business phone calls are forwarded to my cell phone that I can answer with my hearing aid. The bad news is you get 40 feet away and you’ll lose the signal. You’ll be looking for your phone but it is so amazing.”

It just got easier to do hands-free driving, which is a law in Hamilton.

At one time McCutcheon managed a national hearing aid company and had 65 specialists working for him.

“I had 26 people in the office, 35 telemarketers and traveled quite a bit but I decided I’m done with that,” he said. “I firmly believe it is important to do business locally as much as we can. We need our local businesses for a lot of things, including the tax base.”

McCutcheon wears a hearing aid in his right ear and 10 years ago a cochlear stroke eliminated the hearing in his left ear.

“My own hearing is probably worse than all but about a half a dozen of my own patients,” he said. “When someone comes in I can realistically say, ‘I know exactly what you’re going through.’”

For more information, call Hearing Instrument Specialists anytime at 406-363-4363 and although McCutcheon could answer with his hearing aid, he may be helping a customer so leave a message.

Hearing Instrument Specialists is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday, in the Selway Commons on U.S. Highway 93, across from Mildenberger Motors, in Hamilton.