Monday, October 18, 2010

Starkey Laboratories is Featured in New Book on Business

Heart & Soul, a new book by Robert L. Shook, discusses five American companies that demonstrate how doing good can be good for business. The companies featured are Starkey Laboratories (hearing aids), Mary Kay (cosmetics), Resource One (a recycling company that has a side business which provides employment for people who have suffered brain injuries), DaVita (dialysis), and World Wide Technology.

To create this book, the writer heavily relied on quotations from company personnel interviews so I am going to use quotes from the book in good faith. My review will discuss the Starkey Laboratories section of the book although for the record I did read the whole book and enjoyed learning about all of the businesses. But this is a hearing loss related blog, so I think the Starkey Laboratories part is of most interest here.

If you are unfamiliar with Starkey Laboratories, they are the only major hearing aid manufacturer headquartered in the United States. Heart & Soul describes the history of the company and its chief executive officer, Bill Austin. Before reading this book, I did not know that Bill Austin at one time contemplated whether he should become a doctor or an audiologist. In making the decision, he considered how to make the best use of his time on this planet and chose audiology as his life work. The book quotes Austin as saying
"You have one life to live and one life to give. You must make it count for as much as you can. I can give the gift of hearing, the vehicle that creates love and caring between people. And it allows them to learn so they can live more productive lives."
I was touched by that thought. I was also inspired by the following tidbit of company history. At the time that Austin acquired Starkey Laboratories, he was the owner of a company called Professional Hearing Aid Services. When he announced to the previous owner of Starkey Laboratories, that he was merging his company into Starkey and keeping the name, the man asked why he wasn't changing the name to Austin Labs. Austin replied "I want this company to be bigger than I am. I don't want it to be always associated with me." He also liked the Starkey name because of its two word combination. "We want to help people reach the stars and we want them to find their key to success."

Starkey Laboratories has been a success story and responsible for innovations including the first customized in-the-ear hearing aid. The company has had an impact worldwide through its Starkey Foundation which donates hearing aids to needy people in developing countries. Mission trips are regularly conducted to Latin America, Africa, eastern Europe, and Asia. Bill Austin personally fits many of these aids. He claims to have fitted more aids than anyone else in the world.

Bill Austin certainly has a heart of gold and a dream of helping as many people as he can to hear better. To learn more about the Starkey Foundation, you can check out their website.

Heart & Soul is available from Amazon. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about Starkey Laboratories, Bill Austin, and the Starkey Foundation. Before purchasing, please be aware that the section on Starkey Laboratories is 60 pages of the book's 315 pages and that the book's focus is on companies that do good rather than offering an unbiased depiction of the companies.

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