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On the Job with Doug Lorber

Doug Lorber is an audiologist and co-owner of Albany Audiology in Albany.

Doug Lorber is an audiologist and co-owner of Albany Audiology in Albany.

In his dreams, Doug Lorber is an actor on Broadway. In reality, he practices audiology in Albany, but that’s not saying he doesn’t get to enjoy a bit of serious drama from time to time in his medical office.

DOSSIER

NAME: Douglas Lorber

AGE: 55

POSITION: Audiologist and co-owner, Albany Audiology

FAMILY: Married to Nancy with three sons, Mike, 39; Todd, 37 and Josh, 28.

EDUCATION: Mary Washington University, Fredericksburg, VA; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Arizona School of Health Sciences.

Lorber says he gets much satisfaction in “seeing the faces of children and parents of children if we have to fit them with hearing aids. Their eyes light up and tears flow. It’s pretty emotional.”

He also gets to satisfy the acting bug by playing in numerous Albany Theater productions.

Lorber recently participated in a question-and-answer session with reporter Jim West.

Q. What was your first job?

A. My father owned his own pharmacy back in New Jersey and all of the kids — there’s five of us — at some point in time worked at the pharmacy. I was the behind the counter guy when I was between ten and thirteen.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

A. When I was a child I actually loved comic books, so I was an avid comic book reader. I wish I had all of them right now, but I loved to read comic books and then read them on a tape recorder and do different voices, so I was acting at a young age.

Q. What’s the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. There are a few things I like to do — you know it is family. We love to just praise. We say “thank you” and “job well-done.” Of course bonuses and money are always a nice added thing we try to do for them every once in a while.

Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to operate your own business?

A. Mostly my wife and I sat down together and said that this would be the best way for us — as a family-run business — to have more one-on-one time with patients. So we’re able to sit with them, get to know them better. It was more of a family atmosphere so when people came in here they would feel more at home in a medical office.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. When I was first in college there was a Dr. Roger Ruth was one of my audiology professors. He was very inspirational to me. He was only a few years older than I was but he was an incredible role model for me in the field of audiology.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. The main thing is that you have to diversify. You’ve got to dream a little bit and think a little more outside of the box, not be so closed-minded. Expanding services, doing some things that are a little different than what we would normally do.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology – examples e-mail, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. – what would you most like to see go away?

A. Actually, none of it. All of those things are so important, your being able to communicate with patients better, or patients to have better access to me and also better access to the Internet and other information that will help them in their treatment for the future.

Q. What is your favorite

work-related gadget?

A. My new one is called an OAE machine. It allows me to test newborns and infants, where in the past it was very difficult and time consuming. This new gadget allows me to test these babies when they first arrive and give us heads-up information about their hearing. The sooner we can find out how well they hear or don’t hear, the sooner they can be treated.

Q. What is your favorite tradition?

A. Our favorite tradition is Christmas morning, having all the kids over to the house and now all of the grandchildren at the house. Serving everybody and opening up presents is very important to us.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. The last book I read was “Playing for Pizza,” by John Grisham, one of those fun reads. It took about two days to get through it. But in general I do a lot of reading as far as journals are concerned, professional journals, a lot of online information that I read to keep up with the times.

Q. I’m up and going by? And what is your morning routine?

A. I usually get up between 6:00 and 6:30, have a very light breakfast. I don’t like to eat heavy in the morning. The main thing my wife and I do, we open the back door, look out the back door and just thank God for all the blessings that we have and the beautiful world we live in.

Q. What famous person would you like to meet, and why?

A. There are a couple. First I would like to meet Thomas Jefferson. I went to the University of Virginia, which he founded, and also being one of the founding fathers just seeing how things were back then, what was going through their minds, creating the United States. Second would be Steven Spielberg. I’d love to see his thought process when he goes into making a movie.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Obviously I love to act. I was

actually a theater major before

going into audiology, but I love playing golf and of course the most important thing to me is just family — being around my family and my grandkids.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. Probably right after school I would have gone into private practice, because being able to have that one-on-one time is very important to them.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. Working with my family. My wife is here. Two of my kids work with us as well, but also seeing the faces of children and parents of children if we have to fit them with hearing aids. Their eyes light up and tears flow. It’s pretty emotional.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. There is no worst thing. I love every aspect of the job and being able to communicate with all the patients and families. It’s just a wonderful job. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. Probably would be my introduction to audiology class, because originally I was going to be a speech pathologist. That curriculum you have to take just flipped me. I knew that was the direction I wanted to go.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. Broadway. If I could do some theater. I wish I could sing a little bit better, but being an actor and being in comedy and dramas. I would love to be on 42nd Street right about now.

Q. Finish this thought: “On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself …

A. Sitting around the pool and hanging out with my family, laughing and having a good time.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of them. They can’t be without integrity, being realistic, having a positive attitude, being a bit of a dreamer, thinking outside the box, being able to do things that maybe are a little outside of your comfort zone to some extent. But you also have to have vision. Having my wife, Nancy, with me — women are sometimes able to guide us and give us a little nudge in the right direction. So having those kinds of things are very important to the job.

Q. Crystal ball time: What’s your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. Looking around town — just driving around — I’m seeing some new construction, seeing some new homes being built, restaurants being built, homes being reconstructed, more traffic in our business. I think in maybe two to three years things are going to improve a great deal.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. Unfortunately I don’t have an iPod. I still have records, those big, vinyl things. I love 70s music. I’m a big Bruce Springsteen fan. Chicago, Blood, Sweat and Tears. I listen to musicals of course, just pretty much a wide variety of stuff.

Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?

A. I think we’re going to see a big growth. The three colleges are going to expand immensely, with Darton being a state college, perhaps with four-year classes in there, Albany State growing, Albany Technical College growing, the school systems in general getting better. That will bring in more people. More people are going to stay here as opposed to leaving, so I think that Albany, Dougherty County, Lee County, the whole surrounding area is really going to see a big boom in the next three to five years.

Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Why?

A. Wow. My wife and I got an opportunity to go to Scotland and England for about 10 days. Being able to see the countryside, of course playing some golf out there, was very nice. Going to London, seeing some plays, just traveling, seeing the country and seeing local people. That was a pretty exciting trip for us.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. The biggest thing we’ve seen as far as hearing aid technology is concerned is the ability to integrate hearing aids with other devices. Blue Tooth technology. We can stream your television into your hearing aid, we can Blue Tooth your cell phone right into your hearing aids. You can get remote controls, remote microphones, so the technology, the hearing aids, the speed of the chips — all of those things just make the listening experience for the patients so much easier and better and at a much higher quality. We can fit many more people with really good, high-tech devices.