Erik Westermann 1923-2017

Manufacturers

Erik Westermann
Erik Westermann © Widex

It was with great sadness that Widex announced the passing away of Erik Westermann, who died quietly in his sleep early on Tuesday 24th October at the age of 94.

Erik Westermann - also known a EW - made it his life's work to build Widex into a strong international company in the hearing aid industry. The story of how EW with his business partner Christian Tøpholm decided to set up Widex over a bottle of red Martini one late evening is well known. Working out of the cellar of Christian Tøpholm’s home, the two men shock hands and laid the foundation of what would later become one of the world’s leading hearing aid producers. From these humble beginnings, they built up a successful business combining their respective skills – Christian Tøpholm as a gifted engineer and Erik Westermann as the natural born business talent.

Very early on, EW saw the international opportunities and laid the foundation in the 50s and 60s for Widex's international representation, that now has 38 sales companies worldwide. Widex hearing aids are sold in more than 100 countries around the world, and the company employs over 4,000 people worldwide.

Westermann led an eventful life. As a young, determined man, he chose to join the Danish resistance struggle during the German occupation of Denmark in the Second World War. His division were captured by the Germans and sent to a concentration camp. After four hard months, he was driven by the Red Cross's 'white buses', arranged by Swedish Count Bernadotte, to Sweden, from where he returned home after Denmark's liberation. After the war, Westermann worked as a correspondent in Vigo and consulate secretary in Barcelona, learned Spanish and laid the foundation for his love for the southern European countries and South America.

When EW and Christian Tøpholm started Widex, it was natural that EW would be the outward driving force and responsible for sales, as well as building a network of international distributors who would loyally sell and market the Widex brand in the local markets. EW had very close relationships with Widex distributors and was always ready to help them both professionally and privately. There are many of the company's business partners who will feel sorrow at EW's passing. During his 90th birthday celebrations, Westermann said “I’m lucky to have met a lot if fascinating people from the industry with whom I have formed lifelong friendships.”

EW was active in Widex to the last. He was often in his office in the headquarters and as recently as five weeks ago he attended a lunch with a Spanish ENT doctor and promoted the Widex story.

During an interview a few years ago, Westermann was asked the best business advice he had been given? He responded, “Keep your money tight in the case; be very careful at the beginning and spend little on your personal life,” advice that any new business would do well to heed.

A Widex statement said on Westermann’s passing, “We will all miss EW and with his death comes the end of an era. But it will be in the spirit of EW that we all in Widex work unreservedly to expand and strengthen the business. He would appreciate that in 100 years there will also be a strong and growing Widex.”

EW leaves behind his wife Gerda as well as three sons and five grandchildren.

Victoria Adshead, editor in chief of Audio Infos UK