In 1974, when Bill Crutchfield founded the company in the family garage in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, he was really trying to fix a problem he'd experienced as a customer: how do you figure out which aftermarket car stereos and speakers will work in your vehicle? He came to the conclusion that expert information, shared by people who really cared about problem-solving, was the answer. More than 6 million customers later, those principles continue to drive the business.
We've grown to employ over 600 people in our home state of Virginia, built tools like the Vehicle Finder tool and our interactive 28,000-vehicle-strong Vehicle Fit Database, and developed technological innovations to let customers audition speakers online and shop for A/V gear with an Advisor steering their web journey.
Our Advisors receive weeks of hands-on training with a wide range of car and home electronics before helping customers from our Virginia call centers. And our customers can rely on free lifetime technical support on any gear they buy from us, be it a TV, a subwoofer, headphones, or a drone. It all stems from Bill's continued leadership, and his ongoing belief in detailed, expert information and exceptional customer service.
The results are good for everyone: Crutchfield is proud to the be the only company to win the BizRate Insights Platinum Circle of Excellence award 23 years in a row. Bill Crutchfield was inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame for his contributions and leadership. Crutchfield has been honored four times as one of the Best Places to Work in Virginia, by the Best Companies group and Virginia Business magazine.
What separates Crutchfield from everyone else? Our level of care and expertise. We’re right here in Virginia, ready to help you.
“We don’t need a 500-page manual on how to behave. Just treat people the way you want to be treated.”
Bill Crutchfield instituted the Basic Beliefs in 1983, during a period of crisis and culture change. The business was suffering, and after some deep consideration, Bill found the reason: with Crutchfield’s rapid growth in the early 1980s, employees had lost their direct connection to Bill and his personal values. In response, he wrote out his core beliefs, and met with each employee to explain how important they were. While some didn’t initially subscribe to the new approach, most employees welcomed it, and the business took off. To this day, we follow the Basic Beliefs in all that we do.
In 1974, Bill Crutchfield ran into a problem while restoring his Porsche 356. He wanted to upgrade the audio system by installing a new stereo. But after an exhaustive search, he couldn’t find help from any local or mail-order resource. So he started his own business to help car owners upgrade their own sound systems.
But it wasn’t a hit right away. Crutchfield’s first year sales didn’t come close to covering the start-up costs. Without a business consultant to turn to, Bill sent out questionnaires directly to his customers.
“My customers told me they needed more information, so I made room in the catalog for a detailed story about car stereos and installation techniques. With that, the business took off.”
Bill’s DIY attitude, innovative spirit, and natural knack for helping others have been part of our company’s DNA ever since. We still look at every product presentation, customer interaction, and package shipped as an opportunity to create — yet another — lifelong fan.
Check out some great photos and milestones from our company’s 49 year history.
Research & training
“We’ve dedicated ourselves to research, and it continues to fuel our drive to give customers everything they need to make smart decisions.”
— Bill Crutchfield
“We’ve dedicated ourselves to research, and it continues to fuel our drive to give customers everything they need to make smart decisions. And we’re always striving to do it better.”
— Bill Crutchfield
With a database of over 28,000 vehicles — and counting — Crutchfield has more car audio DIY dirt than anyone. Our Vehicle Research Team is a big reason why. Their in-depth info makes it easier for you to find the gear that fits and install it in your vehicle.
They’ve collected all this the old fashioned way — by taking apart dashes and doors of all types of vehicles. Each step in the removal and replacement process is documented with detailed, step-by-step notes and upwards of 400 photos.
All this info comes into play when you speak to a Crutchfield Advisor or enter your vehicle information into our Vehicle Finder page. Instead of wading through a bunch of stuff that doesn't work, you’ll go straight to what fits your car. Plus, we can send you our vehicle-specific installation instructions — free with most car audio purchases.
Our product research team opens the box for almost every one of the thousands of products we sell. Why? We want to make sure you know everything about your purchase.
We have a team of full-time, in-house product researchers with about 100 years of experience between them. “I’m the ‘newbie’ of the group, with 23 years here at Crutchfield,” quipped researcher Mark G. as he unboxed a new set of headphones. “But I still feel like it’s something new every day. One day I’m testing the state-of-the-art features of an $8,000 camera and the next I’m weighing and measuring a $25 accessory.”
It’s all to make sure you — and your Advisor — have the most accurate info possible while shopping. We provide these specs on our website, and use the data to inform our product recommendations.
This is how we match TVs with the right wall mounts, or properly pair speakers and amps. And we combine the info we collect on car audio products with the info we collect on vehicles. So when we say something fits your car, we can say it with confidence and firsthand knowledge.
Before our experts ever talk to customers on their own, they go through extensive classroom and on-the-job training. “Each Advisor goes through about 14 weeks of product and skills training, give or take a few days,” said JR, the head trainer at our Charlottesville headquarters.
“The majority of our time is spent on products, because there are soooo many,” said JR. “But we also teach them how to ask the right questions — to ensure we're helpful and recommend the best solution.”
Beyond the classroom, the training class gets hands-on with the stuff we sell, often in real-world situations. They travel to a professional recording studio, fly drones in a remote control airfield, and install stereos into their own vehicles. “They live with the product,” said JR, “so they can speak from experience when they talk to customers.”
One secret to our success? We love working together at Crutchfield. Here’s why:
No polystyrene packing peanuts here! Instead, we make our own starch-based, biodegradable peanuts. They readily dissolve in a compost pile or landfill. And making our own has reduced diesel exhaust, too – one truckload of our raw material creates the equivalent of 22 truckloads of finished material.
Our Packsize boxing system optimizes each box for the items going into it. By reducing how much corrugated cardboard we’re using and creating smaller truckloads, we conserve natural resources, reduce diesel fuel usage and exhaust, and give you less material to recycle.
We’re honored by the recognition we’ve received for our work. It means we must be on the right track!