Issue 3 » SOUND ADVICE: Hear Better, Live Better with Nola Aronson
“I want to help you lead a better social life. I will not give up until you can say I changed your life. Otherwise, there’s no sense in doing it.”
– Nola Aronson
By Stephen K. Peeples
I just love helping other people, and creating and growing my business,” said Nola Aronson, owner/CEO of Advanced Audiology in Valencia, the largest diagnostic hearing center in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Aronson has helped countless others in her 39-plus years as a hearing specialist, business owner, mentor and philanthropist.
Not surprisingly, she is among the most revered and respected members of the Santa Clarita Valley community.
Nola started in a practice on Lyons Avenue in 1987, then another in 2001. She founded Advanced Audiology in 2010, and in 2017 celebrated her 30th anniversary of helping SCV residents hear and live better.
Her expertise as an audiologist is core to her success – she is an esteemed board member of the California Academy of Audiology.
But Advanced Audiology has thrived and grown into a multi-million-dollar operation with satellite offices in the San Fernando Valley because Aronson is also a very savvy businessperson.
Among other evidence, repeat clients: Many of her patients have been with her for years. She also empowers her highly trained staff as business partners, so they are motivated by more than a paycheck, and believes strongly in promoting from within.
Aronson has mentored scores of aspiring audiologists and business people over the years. And she stays on top of the latest developments in audiology through continuing education.
Beyond her patients and colleagues, she genuinely cares about people, and actively works to improve life for everyone in the SCV.
“I’m not just about hearing,” Aronson said. “There are more than 100 nonprofits in the Santa Clarita Valley, and many, many philanthropists like me who like to give. That’s what I love so much about this community.”
She has served as a major donor and/or volunteer with dozens of those nonprofit groups, with the Circle of Hope especially close to her heart.
“I’m a 17-year breast-cancer survivor,” Aronson said.
Significantly, each month, Advanced Audiology donates 10 percent of all hearing aid sales to a different local charity.
“I decided to make my business and my love of people and life and health part of a whole picture,” Aronson said. “And I feel that helping others in every possible way is what has led to my success in business.”
From Special Ed Teacher to Audiologist
Growing up in New York, Nola Aronson always knew her calling was to help others in some way. She also keenly observed how her father, Jack Clark, became a very successful businessman.
“He was actually a self-made millionaire,” she said. “He was the first to import men’s and boy’s clothing for stores like Target and K-Mart. The one really good thing I got from my dad is his business sense.”
While in high school, Nola volunteered at a local school helping pre-school-age kids with spina bifida and other major disabilities. Inspired, she studied at the University of Hartford in Connecticut to be a special ed teacher.
But after she graduated in 1976, a few life-changing events altered her path. First, she treated herself to a cross-country trip to California, fell in love with the environment and moved to Southern California permanently the next year.
She worked in a school for retarded and emotionally disturbed children, which eventually inspired her to enroll in a Master’s program at California State University, Long Beach, in speech pathology.
“A lot of the kids I worked with had speech and language problems, so I thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to go be a speech pathologist, so I could work with these kids even better,’” Aronson said.
“I was teaching educable mentally retarded children, but they would learn something one day and forget it all the next day, so you’d have to teach it again,” she said. “ The same thing was true for speech therapy because you never got your results right away.”
Aronson’s big a-ha moment came during her second year at CSULB.
“I had to take a pediatric audiology class,” she said. “I would test the child, or an adult, and get the results right away. I said, ‘Oh, this is what I want to do!’ So, almost ready to graduate, I changed my profession. And that’s how I got into audiology.”
After graduation, she worked at an audiology clinic in Orange County, moved to Van Nuys and built an audiology department at a local hospital, then relocated to Santa Clarita, where she started her audiology solo career in 1987.
‘Hearing Loss Separates People’
“Hearing loss separates people from people,” Aronson said, paraphrasing a famous Helen Keller quote.
People suffering from hearing loss usually have no idea how disconnected they’ve become from what’s going on around them, and from their loved ones, just because they don’t hear as well as they used to.
“Hearing loss is not about being deaf,” Aronson said. “A very small percentage of the population is deaf. Most people just have a slight hearing impairment, but it’s mostly in the high frequencies, which is where the unvoiced consonants are, like ‘s’ and ‘f ’ and ‘th’ and ‘v.’ Those sounds are in 80 percent of the English language, so when you miss one letter in a word, you say, ‘What?’ automatically and not even realize it.”
Advanced Audiology offers free, no-obligation hearing screenings, which takes the guesswork and frustration out of the equation and provides a baseline to compare with future tests. You can find out exactly if you have a problem or not. It’s a painless procedure, just like getting your eyes, heart or teeth checked.
“That’s what it’s all about – catching people before they really get isolated or don’t want to do things they used to do anymore because they can’t hear well enough,” Aronson said.
The next step – restoring or enhancing hearing to the extent possible (each person’s hearing is different, of course) – can bring a tremendously positive change in the quality of life and relationships.
‘Only Your Audiologist Knows for Sure!’
Advanced Audiology has several hearing device options to offer, because audiology technology has made quantum leaps forward in the past 65 years, from the Transistor Age to the Digital Age.
Today’s devices are small personal wireless sound monitors that slide into the ear canal and the user easily controls using a smartphone or other Bluetooth-equipped device. The ear inserts are so small, they don’t show at all.
Still, Aronson’s clients are sometimes reluctant if a test shows they need hearing aids.
“They say, ‘Oh, no! My hearing’s not that bad!’” she said. “And I say, ‘Just come to my office. Let me show you.’ I put them on, and show the (client) in two mirrors. They say, ‘Where are the aids? Oh, I don’t see them!” They’re totally surprised.
“I say, ‘Yes, and now you’re not only going to hear better, but you can also answer your phone using your hearing aids, so you can be hands-free,” she said. “You can watch TV, listen to audiobooks and listen to music because now you have your own personal headset.”
Advanced Audiology has a variety of devices from top manufacturers in various price ranges, and there’s no pressure to buy anything. Clients can even test-drive a device before buying.
Big box stores may carry less expensive devices, but can’t compete with the knowledge and service of Aronson and her large team of hearing experts.
“When you come to us, you’re not just buying a hearing aid – you’re also buying a complete package with service and care for years to come,” she said.
And, as Aronson tells her patients: “Only your audiologist knows for sure!”
‘Giving Back’ is No Cliché
A list of Nola Aronson’s donations to Santa Clarita Valley nonprofits over the years would probably fill every page in this issue.
But most recently, she donated 250 books to the SCV Boys & Girls Clubs to help in the fight against illiteracy. She just received the Commanders Award for the Toys for Tots literacy program. She also provided funding for the IWC Ballroom Dance Youth Foundation so the children at the Boys & Girls Club can have free dance lessons.
She’s been involved in many Celebrity Waiter fundraisers for the SCV Senior Center. Recently, she chipped in $25,000 toward the center’s new building fund and will have a room named after her company. Last year Advanced Audiology was a Gold Sponsor of the Valencia Industry Association’s “Connecting to Success” business education program for high school students.
Aronson’s participated in many of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s golf tournament fundraisers, and been a title sponsor of Circle of Hope’s “Vine to Wine” and “Afternoon Tea” events to raise funds for cancer treatment for people who can’t afford it.
She’s donated to the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Diabetes Association, the Michael Hoefflin Foundation’s fight against children’s cancer, and numerous SCV Boy Scout troops and veterans’ groups as well.
Aronson currently serves as an ambassador for the SCV Chamber of Commerce and was the dinner sponsor for chamber’s 2017 golf tournament. In addition, Advanced Audiology sponsored the 2017 Latino Heritage Gala.
In return, Aronson has received countless accolades, most recently the Valley Industrial Association’s 2016 Rising Star Award; the 2016 Ultimate Female Small Business Executive award from Elite Magazine; the 2015-2016 Small Business of the Year award from the SCV Chamber of Commerce; and the 2017 American Hearing Aid Associates Organizational Development award. The Signal newspaper also named her one of the SCV’s Top 51 most influential people in 2017.
Not surprisingly, Aronson was also recently named a Santa Clarita Valley Community Champion.
Changing Lives for 30 Years
In early November, at least 400 of Nola Aronson’s biggest fans packed the Bonefish Grill in Valencia to help her celebrate Advanced Audiology’s 30th anniversary.
The long check-in line included a remarkable cross-section of the SCV community – local, county and state dignitaries, community leaders, fellow business owners, Advanced Audiology colleagues, doctors and their staff, valued vendors, colleagues from a dozen nonprofits, current patients, and patients she’s helped for years.
Among her longtime clients in the queue was Shasta Elgin, a San Fernando Valley resident who has been seeing Aronson all her life – 31 years.
“I was six months old when I first saw her,” Elgin said. “I was in a foster home and my foster mother suspected I had a hearing problem, so she took me to Nola. She did my hearing test and confirmed I had a significant hearing loss. She fitted me with my first hearing aids. I’ve only gone to her.”
Conversing with Elgin face to face, one would have no clue she was hard of hearing or wearing hearing devices.
Elgin’s experience perfectly exemplifies how Nola Aronson changes lives for the better.
“I’m not interested in selling you a hearing aid,” she said. “I want to help you lead a better social life. I will not give up until you can say I changed your life. Hearing your stories and encouraging you to keep going are the only things that have kept me in this profession for this many years. Otherwise, there’s no sense in doing it.”
23822 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 103
Valencia, CA 91355