About Bill Austin
As a young man, Bill Austin first envisioned himself as a mission doctor. He dreamed of going overseas to support underserved communities, providing developing nations with the necessary (yet often unavailable) medical care to prevent deaths from treatable diseases. Behind this career aspiration was a burning desire to raise the standard of living for as many people as possible.
Bill realized that while being a mission doctor was a noble and worthwhile calling, he would only be able to impact a handful of people every day in that role. Instead, Bill Austin found that to have a global impact and change the lives of millions, he would have to set his sights on developing another, larger enterprise. This epiphany would later define his life’s work and legacy.
In 1967, Bill Austin purchased Starkey Labs for $13,000—which is around $83,000 in today’s currency. He transformed the small earmold company that specialized in industrial-grade hearing protection into Starkey Hearing Technologies. Bill saw an opportunity to disrupt the industry by creating the first company to operate an all-brand repair shop for hearing—a department that is still open today. To promote first-rate care, Bill also insisted on implementing a 90-day trial period (the first ever in the hearing aid industry), that allowed customers a window to return their products, if dissatisfied.
Today, over 50 years later, Starkey Hearing Technologies has become the largest, American-owned hearing aid company in the world. Yet, Bill Austin isn’t notable simply for his business successes; true to his original goal, Bill and his wife, Tani Austin, founded the Starkey Hearing Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides free hearing aids to individuals in need. Alongside audiologists and other medical professionals, Tani and Bill have led hearing missions to over 100 countries, visiting every continent but Antarctica.
Even to this day, Bill Austin is happiest when he is working with those needing hearing aids. He believes that it’s impossible to live life to the fullest without the ability to hear. As such, Bill has an open-door policy: if anyone can’t afford a hearing aid, the Starkey Foundation will provide them with one.
Throughout the course of his career, Bill Austin has helped over 2 million people worldwide. In the United States alone, he has provided hearing aids to tens of thousands of individuals including five Presidents, two Popes, countless legislators, and celebrities. Still, Bill Austin does not favor clients by their reputation or financial means; he treats everyone with the same empathy and human touch. Giving the gift of hearing is his life’s work.
Bill leads by example, giving hearing aids to those in need from day to night, often working seven days a week. Most importantly, he works to ensure that anyone who visits a Starkey Center of Excellence is treated with the same level of respect and kindness.
Bill Austin has received many honors for his philanthropic work, including: the Horatio Alger Award, Mexico’s Aztec Eagle Award, the Jefferson Award, the Albert Schweitzer Leadership Award, the National Caring Award, the Humanitarian Award from Variety International and the First Goodwill Global Ambassador for Ear and Hearing Health by the International Federation for Peace & Sustainable Development at the United Nations.