Erin Wells loved growing up in the Mid-Ohio Valley. She left to expand her horizons, pursue her education and build a career as a doctor of audiology.
She came back to open her own business, Mountain Ears Hearing Clinic LLC, in Parkersburg.
The clinic offers audiology services for pediatrics to adults in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Services include audiologic evaluations, hearing aids, cochlear implants, assistive devices, aural rehabilitation and tinnitus evaluations.
Wells’ approach to treating audiology problems has been influenced by her grandfather. He began losing his hearing at age 15.
“I have a family history of hearing loss; therefore, I am interested in involving the family in the appointments and counseling,” she said. “This includes planned educational events to help the public understand hearing loss and how to help family members cope with it.”
Her deep family roots have also affected her sense of community. Wells can trace her ancestry back to a veteran of the American Revolutionary War. Her ancestor settled in what is now the Mid-Ohio Valley where, generations later, his descendants remain.
“It was nice growing up in an area where you felt so connected,” she said. “When you go places, you always find someone you know.”
Wells credits her parents with helping to equip her with the drive and work ethic that have served her well.
“My parents are very hard workers. They pushed us to think bigger and be involved,” she said. “We are the first generation in my family to attend college.”
Her sister attained a master’s degree and she received a doctorate.
Wells was also active in 4-H, showing dogs, market lambs and dairy beef feeders. In addition, she took part in camps, public speaking and Junior Fair Board.
“This is how I gained leadership, interview and public speaking skills,” she said. “They have helped me so much in my career.”
Despite feeling so connected to her local community, Wells wanted to experience living in other towns among other people. After earning her doctorate from the University of Cincinnati, she spent the next several years working in medical centers in Missouri, helping children and veterans with hearing problems.
“Being a part of a community is very important to me and that is difficult being in a bigger city,” she said.
Wells could hear the Mid-Ohio Valley calling her home. When an opportunity arose to work for another audiology company in West Virginia, she took it. Soon, she was thinking of opening her own clinic.
“I am a person who likes to be prepared, so I did research about opening my own practice,” Wells said. “I read articles from fellow audiologists, but I needed someone to guide me and make sure I knew how the process really worked. I also wanted to make sure that I knew the state regulations and how it worked specifically in West Virginia.”
Her research led her to Marsa Myers, a member of the statewide network of skilled small business coaches with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WV SBDC). Myers is among the WV SBDC coaches who have enhanced their skills by completing graduate-level coursework to receive a Certified Business Advisor (CBA) certificate.
“Marsa was able to point me in the directions I needed to go and help me be on a timeline,” said Wells. “She put me in touch with Savannah Jeffers from Peoples Bank. I was able to work with them for my SBA loan. Marsa not only guided me but encouraged me to be confident in what I was doing and be proud of what I am accomplishing.”
Wells took on more than one life-changing feat in 2019. She got married in May and opened her clinic in August. Her husband also has deep roots in the Mid-Ohio Valley, having grown up a farm that has been in the family for 100 years.
“It has been overwhelming at times, but I keep focusing on the future,” she said. “Nothing good in life comes easy and without hard work and discipline.”
Wells encourages others, whether recently returned or long established, to build businesses, support their schools and help their communities grow.
“Do your research and get good help,” she said. “The Small Business Development Center coaches have invaluable knowledge about starting a business and continuing to provide help along the way.
“Starting your own business is very scary, but having these resources makes it so much easier.”