Andreas “Andy” Rihs, who helped grow Phonak from a family-run company to Sonova, the largest hearing aid company in the world, died on Wednesday at the Susenberg Clinic in Zurich, Switzerland. He was 75.

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In late-1972, Andy Rihs (left) and Beda Diethelm (right) of Elektro Akustic, Zurich, and Ralph Campagna (middle) of RCI struck a deal in which RCI-Phonak hearing aids were to be distributed in the United States.

Rihs, who was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1942, took Phonak over from his father in 1966 along with a partner, Beda Diethelm, and his brother, Hans-Ueil Rihs. Andy ran the company as CEO until April 2000, and as interim CEO until September 2002. He remained on the Board of Directors from 1992 to 2015, when his term of office expired.

A cycling enthusiast and sports fan, Andy owned BMC—a Switzerland-based bicycle company he acquired in 2000 to build the “Porsche of race bikes,” according to the BMC website—which had its own cycle racing team, as well as the Young Boy’s soccer team, according to Reuters. Described as a “hobby rider,” Andy rode to the top of France’s Mont Ventoux and helped fund an 8,000 square meter (86,111 square feet) Switzerland velodrome for Olympic athletes, according to Reuters. At one time, he sponsored the Phonak Cycling Team.

In a statement posted on the BMC website, the company said, “Andy was not only an owner and main sponsor of BMC Racing Team, but also a friend who enjoyed life and loved sharing that joy. With him, an exemplary visionary, an avid sports fan, a passionate cyclist, and a great supporter of sport has left us. Our grief is indescribable, but we will carry on his values.”

Sonova posted the following statement from Robert Spoerry, chairman of the Board of Directors of Sonova Holding AG, on its website: “Andy Rihs has left us for good, and we are finding it extremely hard to understand and accept it. In Andy, we have not only lost a great friend with tremendous foresight and an extraordinarily creative spirit, but also a multitalented and passionate entrepreneur who left a distinctive mark on Sonova.”

Source: Reuters, BMC