If you are a customer of Bay Hearing Aid Center, at 2944 Penn Avenue, you may have noticed some recent changes.

On Aug. 1, Johnny Guest purchased the business from his longtime friend, Ed Payne. 

Guest is a native of Atlanta. He grew up within walking distance of Grant Park, the Atlanta Braves Stadium and the Georgia State Capitol. He attended North Georgia Tech on a basketball scholarship and later graduated with a degree in Industrial Communications. Guest was the director for Bell South/AT&T, and was in charge of all the audio and video for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. He owned six hearing aid businesses in Georgia, two in Houston and one in Destin. He later worked for a hearing aid manufacturer before retiring and purchasing Payne’s business.

While speaking with Guest, he answered a telephone call on his hearing aid that I couldn’t even see.  When I asked him about his hearing aid, he took it off and showed me. Guest explained that not only did he have hearing loss, but his wife lost 90 percent of her hearing, making her legally deaf, after falling ill when she was only 6 years old. She now has a service dog and a hearing aid, but three years ago was saved by the couple’s Boxer, Rambo, during a tornado. Guest understands the frustrations associated with hearing loss, which he explained can lead to dementia and divorce. “Money can’t replace smiles,” Guest said.  He added, “For me, the business is about helping people hear, not money.”

According to Guest, Bay Hearing Aid Center provides all testing free of charge. If you haven’t had a hearing test, the staff will conduct an air, bone and speech test for anyone who visits the office. If you have a hearing loss, you will then be fitted for a hearing aid. Once your hearing aid arrives, you will be entitled to free fitting, cleaning and adjusting for the lifetime of the hearing aid. Bay Hearing Aid Center is not affiliated with any franchises, so customers are not restricted in brands from which to choose.  Some of the types available are Sonova, Phonak, Rexton, Hauseton, Unitron, Seimans and many more. The hearings aids can be rechargeable, wireless and blue tooth, and connect to computers and smart phones, but easy for anyone to operate.

For people unable to commute to the office, the staff will travel to them. Guest explained that most insurance policies are accepted and, unlike other states, there are “no taxes on hearing aids in Florida.” 

Payne, who is now retiring to his Lynn Haven home, might visit from time to time.  He has been serving Marianna since 1969. Payne originally visited the Sandusky Motel once a month and had a clientele of about 30 people. He explained that hearing aids have changed tremendously over time. “In the early days what you ordered is what you had,” explained Payne.  “Now if the hearing test changes, the hearing aid is easily reprogrammed at the office,” added Payne. 

Shop locally, support Marianna businesses and visit Bay Hearing Aid Center at 2944 Penn Ave. in Marianna. For more information, call 850-372-4548, or visit their websites at www.bayhearingaidcenter.com and www.negahearing.com. Bay Hearing Aid Center is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but Guest plans to expand the staff and hours of operation soon.

Visit the City of Marianna’s website at http://www.mariannafl.city/335/New-Businesses-and-Other-Community-News to learn more about new businesses.

Kay Dennis, MBA, MPA, A.I.C.P., is the director of Municipal Development for the City of Marianna.

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