Starkey’s Bill Austin Celebrates 60 Years in the Hearing Industry

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz Proclaims February 10, 2021 as William F. Austin and Starkey Day

Eden Prairie, Minnesota (February 10, 2021) – Today, Starkey is celebrating 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 this day, in 1961, that Austin started his career in the hearing industry. Six years later, in August of 1967, he bought Starkey Labs. Today, Starkey is a global company with more than 5,000 employees doing business in more than 100 markets worldwide.

“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. 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.”

Widely recognized as a visionary throughout the hearing industry, 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. Livio AI® became the world’s first Healthable hearing aid and has revolutionized what hearing health means. Groundbreaking features, such as body and brain health tracking, have continued to 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.

About Starkey
Starkey is a privately held, global hearing technology company headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Owned by Bill Austin since 1967, Starkey is known for its innovative design, development and distribution of comprehensive digital hearing systems. Led today by President and CEO Brandon Sawalich, Starkey has more than 5,000 employees, operates 28 facilities and does business in more than 100 markets worldwide. Learn more at

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