Contributed by , president of Healthy Hearing


Starkey, a world leader in the design, development and distribution of comprehensive hearing solutions, helps people reconnect

This content was last reviewed on: July 7th, 2014

Starkey is a global hearing aid manufacturer that provides stellar customer service with individualized attention, American-made craftsmanship and pioneering research and development work to ensure that they can continue to help people around the world hear to their fullest potential. Starkey also owns Omni, Qualitone and Nu-Ear and sells hearing aids and other assistive auditory devices under these brands. The company's charity - Starkey Hearing Foundation - provides hearing tests and hearing aids to people worldwide who cannot afford these essential services and devices.

History of Starkey Hearing Technologies

Like most proven brands, Starkey has a long history of innovation and development that allowed it to become a proven, trusted provider of hearing aid solutions. In 1967, after pursuing medical school at the University of Minnesota and then working in his uncle's company, The Minnesota Hearing Aid Center, William Austin opened a hearing aid repair shop in St. Louis Park - a suburb of Minnesota - called Professional Hearing Aid Service. 

Starkey manufactures hearing aidsAustin proved an excellent businessman, offering hearing aid repairs for a flat fee, and Professional Hearing Aid Service's good work allowed the company to flourish. In fact, by 1969, the center had more than 30 employees and was a prominent contender in the Twin Cities for hearing aid fittings and repairs.

But Austin wanted to develop new technologies to improve hearing aids, so he bought a small three-person laboratory, Starkey, in 1971, and he renamed his company Starkey Laboratories, Inc. The researchers here had developed the first inner ear molds, and Austin knew that the next step in hearing aid technology would be to develop a less noticeable hearing aid so more people would wear them. He knew successful ear molds could help his cause. 

Indeed, by 1975, Starkey had made the first ever in-the-ear canal hearing aid and offered them to customers with a guaranteed trial period, which became an industry standard. That same year, Starkey bought a new 13-acre campus in Eden Prairie, Minn., to account for the company's growing size. By 1975, Starkey had become a world leader in custom-designed hearing devices and had profited by $6 million.

Starkey opened its first subsidiary in Manchester, England, in 1976 and continued opening more in the next five years.  In 1977, Starkey began its first outreach initiatives, including the CARE program to educate people about how restorative technology could improve their hearing and thus their lives. The Starkey Foundation began in 1978 with recycling hearing aids and then evolved in providing hearing aids and financial resources to needy people with hearing loss around the world.

1980 and Onward

The 1980s brought even more prosperity to Starkey. Aside from continuing to expand around the globe, the company also developed the first inter-ear canal hearing aid in 1983 - called the CE-5 Series. The most high-profile user of this hearing aid was President Ronald Reagan, and when he revealed he was fitted with the CE-5 Series, sales soared.

In the early and mid-1980s, Starkey was able to buy out several of its competitors. It also began another round of global expansion in the mid-to-late-1980s, opening facilities in Sydney, Australia; Marin, Switzerland; Budapest, Hungary and several other locations around the United States.

Starkey was ranked No. 1 in the world for its ability to repair all types of hearing aids in 1990. In a quest to further develop new hearing devices, Starkey opened a new lab in Tokyo in the early 1990s and worked to produce digital hearing aids. In 1993, Starkey released a hearing aid that was the first to fit entirely in the canal, called the Tympanette. It was the smallest and most popular completely  in-the-canal aid in the early 1990s.

In 1995, it opened another lab in Auckland, New Zealand, and Suzhou, China, in an attempt to harness the tech knowledge of experts around the world. By the late 1990s, Starkey was also in Warsaw, Oslo, Stockholm Seoul, Matamoros and Prague, and it had developed a few successful lines of digital hearing aids based upon amplification research.

By the 2000s, Starkey was one of the most established hearing aid company in the world due to good research, sound business practices and an eye toward the future. The revolutionary Genesis hearing aid line was developed in 2001, and the Destiny - which virtually eliminated all feedback - was on the market in 2006.

Today, Starkey is just as respected as ever and has developed the SurfLink Mobile for hands-free cell phone use,as well as various other innovative technologies.

Hearing Aids

Starkey offers a wide range of products, including everything from behind-the-ear hearing aids to "invisible"hearing aids, which are very small and fit completely in the canal. They offer special solutions for children, veterans, those with tinnitus and people who want advanced wireless hearing aids. Starkey also offers hearing protection solutions and superb customer service and trouble-shooting help.

What sets them apart

Starkey's motto is "Hearing is our concern," and it prides itself on innovation, customer service and patient-centered services, craftsmanship and philanthropy. 

Starkey has continually done research and development to propel the industry forward and improve hearing for people around the world. In fact, Starkey was founded and took off as a company on William Austin's desire to develop a hearing aid that people would feel more comfortable and confident wearing, and he did: the industry's first in-canal device. 

However, Starkey is not committed to technology for technology's sake. It recognizes that people have different needs, and not everyone needs or wants the most advanced hearing aid technologies in the world. The company innovates but also works to improve hearing at every turn, since that's what it's all about.

Many of Starkey's devices are made in the U.S., so you can feel good purchasing a high-quality domestic product. They're also made by hand and designed with human anatomy in mind.

Finally, Starkey has gone above and beyond since 1984 to make people's lives better through the Starkey Hearing Foundation. With the foundation's support, more than 100,000 hearing aids are given  on more than 100 global hearing missions each year.

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