Partner Education

Start-up of the Year: Boreal Hearing Centre

Meet the AIR MILES® for Business Small Business Achievement Awards 2016 Start-up of the Year

Written by Text: Chris Daniels


Betty DeKraker knew she was taking a risk when she opened up her clinic. A doctor of audiology with more than 20 years’ experience, she had watched over the past 12 years as the delivery model in the hearing services field became dominated by corporate-owned chains and big box stores advertising discounted product.

But she knew these operations lacked the freedom to offer an array of products because they were either owned by, or closely affiliated with, a particular hearing aid manufacturer. So DeKraker opened her own completely independent clinic.

“I want to be able to select the best products and accessories on the market for clients based on their individual needs. By using products from several manufacturers, I can involve clients in the decision-making process,” says DeKraker. “From day one I wanted to create for customers a very personal experience €“ not just a clinical one.”


Through very strong vision and leadership, Boreal has given real thought to what it takes to differentiate the business in the market. This, in combination with a real focus on values, is probably why DeKraker has succeeded so well in a short period of time.

Building on the tenets of honesty, quality and integrity, Boreal’s value system is reflected in marketing material that is focused on education. Boreal Hearing Centre supplements ads in the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal with a monthly column penned by DeKraker, in which she provides her expertise on hearing loss and care. She has also formed partnerships with organizations she thinks her clinic can help educate, such as Chartwell, a seniors’ residence.

She also sends out personal, hand-written thank you cards to all patients of the clinic.

In its first 18 months, Boreal Hearing Centre achieved sales that DeKraker hadn’t forecast reaching until year five. DeKraker is also proud of the fact that now three out of the four ear, nose and throat physicians in the city refer patients to the centre. “The response has been so great and I feel so honoured; the success has really been unexpected, but I think it is a strong indicator of the trust we’ve built with patients who see that we’re guided by quality customer service and fair pricing.”

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