Updated February 12, 2021
Look for HR Editor Karl Strom’s interview with Austin in an upcoming issue of The Hearing Review
Starkey announced the celebration of its inaugural Founder’s Day, as owner and Chairman Bill Austin marks 60 years of helping people with hearing health care around the globe. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has also proclaimed February 10, 2021, as William F. Austin and Starkey Day in the state of Minnesota. It was on February 10, in 1961, that Austin started his career in the hearing industry. Starkey was incorporated by Paul Jensen in August 1967, and Austin bought the company in 1970. Today, Starkey is a global company with more than 5,000 employees doing business in more than 100 markets worldwide.
Related article: Starkey Livio AI Tested in New Study
“As an entrepreneur who started his business in the basement and grew into a global hearing healthcare company, Bill Austin is a role model for anyone who believes in working hard to pursue a dream,” said Starkey President and CEO Brandon Sawalich. “Every step of the way, he has focused on innovation in his products and providing exemplary customer service, even before that term was commonplace in business. Throughout his success, and admitted failures, he always maintained a steady focus on people and serving others.”
Over the past six decades, Austin has dedicated much of his time to volunteering in underserved areas to assist in providing access to hearing healthcare, according to Starkey. He and his wife, Tani Austin, have volunteered at hearing missions in more than 100 countries, visiting every continent but Antarctica. Austin, who is a Minnesota Business Hall of Fame inductee, has received many prestigious honors for his work, including the Horatio Alger Award, the Albert Schweitzer Leadership Award, and the Alexander Graham Bell Lifetime Achievement Award.
“It has been my great honor to spend the past six decades working with so many kind-hearted and caring individuals who are truly revolutionizing hearing health,” said Austin. “Although the past year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, has been one of the most challenging of my 60 years in this industry, I am confident we will be stronger for it. By leading from our heart, we will continue to transform the traditional way of treating hearing loss.”
Austin has “made bold moves over the course of his career to reinvent the hearing aid, most recently, by intersecting hearing aids with artificial intelligence,” says the company. Livio AI became “the world’s first Healthable hearing aid and has revolutionized what hearing health means.” Features, such as body and brain health tracking, have helped “tear down the stigma associated with hearing loss, making hearing aids a want-to-have technology.”
“We are in the midst of a seismic shift in the hearing industry,” said Austin. “By using artificial intelligence, we’ve transformed the hearing aid into a tool that can unlock the ear’s ability to be a source of complex biological information. In doing so, we’re bridging the gap between a patient’s hearing health and their overall health and wellness. When it comes to revolutionizing the hearing aid, we are just getting started.”
Sawalich reflects further on Austin’s life and legacy in a new blog. To read it, please click here.