For Jenifer, it wasn’t love at first sight. Rather, it was being a tour guide at the University of Buffalo in New York where she had just finished up her first year of Aud studies. For Ross however, a perspective student, was interested in the graduate program as well as his guide. He followed up with several e-mails later that summer but Jenifer never responded to any of them. Undeterred, he struck up a friendship with his love interest when he began Aud classes there in the fall of 2001.
Initially put off by his fondness for flannel shirts, Jenifer warmed up to Ross the more she got to know him. His personality shined through and won her over and by the next cold weather season, Ross had donated 90 percent of his flannel shirts to the Salvation Army, with the exception of a few favorites he had to keep.
For the next several years, the couple lived together in Buffalo while attending graduate school. The two shared some classes and even a clinical placement. They drove to and from the clinic together as well as working together all day in the same office. It wasn’t too much for them at the time and most likely how they realized that they could own a practice together one day.
While the now-newlyweds combed the region for entrepreneurial opportunities, each took jobs with local practices to gain experience and funds. In less than 2 years, the Cushings founded A&A Maryland Hearing Center. They became practice owners in February of 2007 and four months later learned they were also expectant parents.
For Ross, practice ownership seemed an innate next step. Growing up, he lived upstairs from his dad’s chiropractic private practice and got it in his head that private practice is just what people did for a living.
The two jumped into practice ownership full-time with little doubt but it wasn’t long until the weight of responsibility began to wear heavily on their confidence. During the first 9 months, Ross experienced some intense fear. At the beginning, business was slow and they were spending a lot of money renovating the office and buying equipment. The two overworked and overwhelmed themselves with too many responsibilities and expenses, too fast. They didn’t pace it out and their cash flow suffered. Ross was hard on himself, unforgiving and at times lost faith that they would be able to pull it off. They learned to pace spending when it didn’t go directly toward turning a profit.
Looking back, Ross considered the experience a “wonderfully challenging learning curve” – one that left him a better entrepreneur and person.
Over a course of 10 years, the two acquired Hearing Specialty Group and Richmond Hearing Centers to accompany A&A Maryland Hearing Center. The couple then decided to rebrand under the umbrella of Live Better Hearing in 2017. With now 23 locations, the Cushings are proud to own Maryland and Virginia’s leading hearing and audiology practice.