In May I went to a Hearing Technology Summit. It was a five-day excursion into technological advances, lifestyle needs, capabilities, and the pure enjoyment that one gets from watching someone hear their loved one again. It was a great summit.
As I sat in this conference put on by Starkey Hearing Technologies, surrounded by about 500 of the top colleagues in the country I was truly reminded of what a truly humane company that they are. Our company has dealt with almost every manufacturer over our 54-year history. (Wow, next year will be the big 55th, guess we will need to have a Party!) Anyway, there are many hearing instrument manufacturers out there. At one point there were over 100. Now there are a just a few, Starkey, Oticon, Siemens, Phonak, Resound, and Widex. We have fit hearing instruments from all of these companies over the years. In the past 25 years we have preferred Starkey Hearing Technologies. (My dad wore the 27th hearing instrument ever built by Starkey.) They are celebrating 55 years in business this year. They employ over 4500 people with their main facility located in Eden Prairie, MN. We personally know the owner and have been to his house many times for dinner & conversations. Do the other companies build good technology? Of course, they do.
So, I sat and as the conference started, they introduced a dear friend and business owner from Indonesia who was in the ISIS attack at the Starbucks in Jakarta, Indonesia. This was just last year. Manfred Stoifl fits thousands of people a year with hearing instruments. He owns several hearing offices. He was meeting a friend and colleague from Canada at the Starbucks because they were planning another mission to get hearing instruments to those in need in Indonesia. The ISIS attack occurred; the Canadian was killed in the attack was Tamar American-Quali. (He moved from Algeria years ago for a better life and was a dual citizen living in Laval. (He leaves behind 5 children & his wife.) His hearing centers in Canada passed down to his kids. Manfred Stoifl, our Indonesia colleague was badly injured, but his computer keyboard deflected some of the explosives and saved his life. He spent a long time in the hospital. Within an hour of arriving at the hospital his wife was texting Bill & Tani Austin (Owners of Starkey) and letting them know what was happening. They found out one of their dearest friends had died and the other one was in critical condition. As Bill & Tani spoke and the tears ran down their cheeks they were showing screen shots of the texts from Manfred's wife's phone. The normal stuff was there, how is he? Will he survive? What happened? And of course, Bill asked... How is his hearing? The text that came back: "Bill, we need now more than ever to do another mission! We need to educate people, to improve their lives. Last time we did over 600, we must do more". This is from a man badly wounded, laying in a hospital bed. The next mission was done and there were another 1700 children & adults given love and better hearing. The Starkey Hearing Foundation is the largest foundation in the world for free hearing instruments for those in need. It was set up decades ago and a percentage of every Starkey Hearing Aid purchased goes to the foundation. Along with huge fundraisers with Mega stars they raise about 8 million annually to provide hearing aids in our country and abroad. They are the world’s largest hearing instrument manufacturer. Since the onset of Covid in 2020 and their travel was limited, they have renamed to StarkeyCares with primarily a more individualized approach in our country. Still doing what they do best, caring and providing better hearing for all.
Their conferences are to educate and inspire us. To Motivate us. They far exceed the ordinary business. While sad about the ISIS attack, at the same time PROUD, proud of this "family" business that we associate with. They live everyday by Bill Austin's philosophy "Alone we can't do much, together we can change the world." The company was started with the slogan "Because We Care, and they prove it every day! To Hear Better Is To Live Better!