William Demant Holding makes products that are "all the better to hear you with, my dear." One of the world's oldest and largest hearing aid makers, the holding company operates through a number of independent business units that also develop, manufacture, and sell audiological diagnostic instruments and communication equipment, including hands-free headsets. Hearing aids are by far its biggest business, however, and its Oticon and Bernafon subsidiaries are selected suppliers of the US Department of Veteran Affairs. The company sells through its own sales force and independent distributors worldwide.
William Demant is conducting global expansion efforts to gain market share from large global competitors in the rapidly consolidating hearing aid industry. It acquired US-based rival Otix Global in 2010 for about €47 million ($64 million) and integrated the company into its existing operations. Otix Global developed and sold hearing aids under the Sonic brand and maintains sales and distribution strength particularly in the US and Australia. The deal gave William Demant a greater foothold in the North American market and further built out its stable of hearing aid brands. The acquisition will also hopefully help William Demant .
In 2011 the company moved to expand again in the North American market when it agreed to acquire retail hearing aid distributor HearUSA for some $80 million. The financially troubled HearUSA has filed for bankruptcy protection and will sell substantially all of its operations to William Demant, unless a higher bidder emerges during the bankruptcy auction process.
The company is also growing by developing and bringing new products to market. Examples include implantable bone-anchored hearing devices and improved wireless features for hearing aids. Its Oticon ConnectLine system, for instance, enables users to stream sound directly from TVs and mobile and landline phones to their hearing aids.
William Demant Holding was founded in 1904 by Hans Demant, whose wife suffered from hearing loss. After his passing in 1910, son William Demant took over the business and more than 45 years later donated the family's shares to The Oticon Foundation, which sponsors social and educational programs, conferences, and campaigns for researchers, hearing care professionals, and the general public in order to promote awareness of hearing impairment. The foundation today holds a controlling stake in the company.