EDEN PRAIRIE, MINNESOTA — In a company announcement yesterday, Starkey Hearing Technologies reported that Bill Austin will be stepping down from his role as President and will be succeeded by his stepson, Brandon Sawalich.
Austin is said to retain his title as CEO and will continue to be involved in driving the company’s “strategic direction and leadership”.
Sawalich, who joined Starkey in 1994, most recently served as the company’s senior vice president. He has held several leadership roles within the company over the years, primarily within sales and marketing. In March of this year, Sawalich was elected to serve as chairman of the Hearing Industries Association (HIA).
“After 23 years with Starkey, Brandon has proven to me that he is a trusted leader who Starkey can be proud of, and who shares my passion and commitment to better hearing, our employees, the industry and the people we serve. He has been an instrumental part of the team leading Starkey, with me, these past 22 months. Under tremendous pressures, he guided the company’s technological advancement and commitment to customer service, all while building a talented leadership team with the values and ethics upon which I started this company. I could not have asked for a more dedicated partner.” –Bill Austin
Leading Starkey’s Future
After a series of negative headlines, due to the surprise firing of several members of Starkey’s executive team in 2015, including former company president Jerry Ruzicka, over allegations of embezzlement, the company looks to move forward.
Sawalich will become president of the largest US-based hearing aid manufacturer, with Starkey bringing in an estimated $800 million in annual revenue according to analysts.
“I am humbled by the extraordinary honor to lead this wonderful organization and talented team,” said Sawalich in the announcement. “Fifty years ago, Bill Austin started Starkey on the fundamental values of connecting people through better hearing. He is a caring business leader who has dedicated his life to serving those in need. I am eager to continue building on Bill’s successful history and am excited about our direction and unlimited potential.”
Source: Starkey, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minneapolis Business Journal