A self-made Nixa native stopped in his hometown to meet with civic leaders on his way to a mission trip to Mexico.
Bill Austin is the CEO of Starkey Hearing Technologies and resides in Brownsville, Texas. He was born in Nixa in 1942. When he was around the age of 5, his family moved to Oregon. He then went on to attend college in Minnesota.
Austin built what became one of the nation’s largest suppliers and manufacturers of hearing aids.
Through donations and the work of volunteers—including Austin himself, who personally spends 200 days a year traveling around the world to fit individuals with hearing aids—his nonprofit organization delivers more than 50,000 free hearing aids each year through mission trips in the U.S. and to countries around the world.
Nixa Mayor Brian Steele explained that Austin’s visit to Nixa and his meeting with civic leaders Morning Day Café on Main Street was hastily arranged. On Sucker Day, Steele started discussing Austin with another self-made entrepreneur, Hamra Enterprises owner Sam Hamra, a former Nixa city attorney.
“That day, Sam told me the story of how he had met Mr. Austin. The two men found out that they both had a common link to Nixa, and Sam invited Mr. Austin to visit Nixa with him in the future,” Steele recounted. “Later that same evening, Sam called me and told me that Mr. Austin had agreed to visit Nixa the next day on his way to a mission trip in Mexico. Sam said Mr. Austin would like to meet with local leaders and tour property his family still owns in Nixa.”
Steele scrambled to round up some community leaders. Ten people met Austin and his wife, Tani, on a Sunday.
“During the meeting, Mr. Austin told us about his family's history in Nixa, his life, his career and his true calling. He provided a testimony of how God had changed his life and directed him on a path to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world by providing them with the gift of hearing through his philanthropic work,” Steele said.
Austin then toured his family’s old land and a family cemetery.
The mayor invited Austin to return for another visit.
“It was a truly inspirational experience to be able to meet a man who is not only so successful, but also so generous to people around the world,” Steele said.