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About us

Doing things differently since 1974

For 50 years, we've worked to elevate the retail electronics experience by providing helpful advice, unparalleled information, and lifetime support for every product we sell. Look back with us and discover how we built a very different kind of company.

Founder's story

Founder's story

Drawing on a lifetime interest in electronics, Bill Crutchfield launched a car stereo mail order business, using his family name to ensure his own emotional investment in its success. However, in its first year, his new company faced bankruptcy if Bill didn't do something drastic. Based on customer feedback, he reimagined Crutchfield as an information resource. The business took off, and today Crutchfield is an award-winning online and catalog retailer of premium consumer electronics, serving customers in the United States and Canada.

Join Bill Crutchfield as he shares his 5-decade journey as founder/CEO.

Only a handful of companies have remained in business for 50 years. An even smaller number remain under the same ownership for this length of time. And a tiny, tiny subset remains under the same ownership and management for 50 years. That makes Crutchfield an exceedingly rare company.

Bill Crutchfield

Read the full story

History

History

Explore our interactive timeline to see photos and milestones from our five decades helping customers find the perfect A/V gear. Reexperience the cultural impact of iconic gear like the Sony Walkman® and discover how we've cultivated successful partnerships with the biggest names in the industry like Sony, Alpine, Samsung, Pioneer, and so many more.

1974

Bill Crutchfield founds our company, based out of his mother's basement, and creates the first car audio mail order catalog. Read it here and explore the products we offered back then, like under-dash 8-track players, in-dash cassette players, CBs, and more.

1975

Crutchfield revolutionizes DIY car audio installation by offering custom kits to the public for the first time. Check out our history of helping DIYers.

1975

Our early catalog is reimagined, combining in-depth magazine-style articles with product descriptions. What results is believed to be the first “magalog”. Shortly thereafter, Crutchfield begins offering home audio products from Sony.

1977

The Apple II enters the market and paves the way for the personal computing boom of the 1980s. We go on to feature products from Apple and Atari in our '80s catalogs, and in the '90s, we even sell Crutchfield PCs.

1979

Construction of our Charlottesville, VA, headquarters is completed. It's one of the most energy-conservative buildings in the state at the time, and it still houses some of our offices.

1979

To improve our customers' shopping experience, the “Crutchfield Standard” is developed. Previously, comparing different products was like comparing apples to oranges, as many manufacturers didn't use consistent standards of measurement. Read more about this and other important Crutchfield milestones in our Founder's story.

1981

We begin offering a wide variety of home A/V products, expanding beyond our previous focus on car audio. Our selection soon grows to include “cutting edge” video gear such as HiFi stereo VCRs and 19" color tube TVs. Learn more about the differences between vintage and modern home stereo gear.

1981

After taking Japan by storm, the iconic Sony Walkman hits the U.S. and shows up in the Crutchfield catalog for the first time, letting a generation take their favorite tapes with them on the go.

1983

When company sales start flagging, Bill Crutchfield identifies the cause as a lost connection to the company's original values. He crafts the Crutchfield Basic Beliefs to clearly define our values, employees respond, and the business takes off again.

1983

Crutchfield's first retail store opens in our hometown of Charlottesville, VA.

1984

Compact disc players arrive in the Crutchfield catalog and begin a new era of high-fidelity audio. Soon after, we start carrying CD car stereos, prompting another evolution in car audio.

1989

We begin researching cars to obtain precise fit information. We even venture to junkyards to find what we're looking for! Read more about our team's adventures in research.

1990

Our product and vehicle information is consolidated into a computer called “Albert” (as in Einstein). This allows our expert Advisors to quickly reference a vast database of information while talking to customers.

1992

We formally establish our Vehicle Research Team and create our first MasterSheets™ — vehicle-specific instructions to help our customers install car stereos themselves.

1995

Crutchfield.com launches, only one month after Amazon.com! We become the first authorized online retailer of consumer electronics. The first product we sell? Sony's DirecTV satellite receiver and antenna. Dolby Digital home theater, DVD players, big-screen TVs, and other classic '90s gear soon follow!

1998

We open our satellite contact center in Southwest Virginia, and it becomes the role model for future economic development in the region. We're incredibly proud of our wonderful employees there and all their successes.

1999

Accolades abound! Bill Crutchfield is honored as Ernst & Young's Master Entrepreneur of the Year for Virginia. And Crutchfield wins the Bizrate Insights “Platinum Circle of Excellence Award” for customer service. We're proud to have won it every year since.

2001

Apple introduces the iPod®, paving the way for the iPhone® just six years later. With users able to store, and eventually stream, vast music libraries in a pocket-sized device, car audio is forever changed, and we're equipped to help customers maximize the fun.

2006

Our upgraded online vehicle selector launches. While customers have been able to use crutchfield.com to filter car audio products based on their vehicle since 1997, now they can access a customized page of vehicle-specific info. It uses our hands-on research and fit data to serve up car audio and installation gear, installation guides, and more.

2007

Bill Crutchfield is inducted into the Electronics Hall of Fame, alongside the founder of Best Buy, the cofounder of Microsoft, and Dr. Amar Bose.

2007

We launch crutchfield.ca — our website for customers in Canada.

2008

We begin manufacturing our own biodegradable packing peanuts using environmentally friendly corn starch. They can be composted or dissolved in water.

2012

We begin minimizing our packaging sizes by installing our first machine to manufacture boxes to fit customer orders. This reduces our environmental footprint.

2013

We begin offering pro audio equipment, to the applause of the many gigging musicians who work here.

2019

In 2009, we're issued the first of several patents for our Virtual Speaker technology. Ten years later, this innovation ends up powering our SpeakerCompare feature on our website. It's the only technology of its kind that lets you audition 1500+ home and car speakers online. Try it out!

2024

We celebrate 50 years in business and continue to grow as a nationally recognized, award-winning company with more than 650 employees — all located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thank you for trusting us with your business!

Basic beliefs

In 1983, after seven years in business and a period of rapid growth, our sales began to suffer. Crutchfield was undergoing a period of crisis and culture change. Employees had lost their direct connection to Bill Crutchfield's founding values, and so he decided to write out his core beliefs.

We don’t need a 500-page manual on how to behave. Just treat people the way you want to be treated.

Bill Crutchfield

Bill met with each employee to explain how important they were to Crutchfield. While some didn't initially subscribe to the new approach, most welcomed it, and the business took off again. To this day, we follow these Basic Beliefs in all that we do.

  • Exceed our customers’ expectations by providing a truly exceptional level of integrity, courtesy, service, and helpful information.
  • Value each of our coworkers and provide a work environment that promotes dignity, team harmony, and personal satisfaction.
  • Respect our business partners and maintain mutually rewarding relationships with vendors who demonstrate high professional standards.
  • Maintain a passion for excellence through a commitment to continuous improvement.
  • Promote a culture of innovation through the acceptance of change and risk, generation of new ideas, and decisive, responsible leadership of new initiatives.

Awards we've won

We're honored by the recognition we've received over the years. For us, it reinforces that our Basic Beliefs are as relevant and essential today as the day Bill Crutchfield first shared them with our company.

Bizrate Circle of Excellence

Bizrate's “Circle of Excellence” Platinum Award for performance and customer service (24 years in a row).

Best Places to Work in Virginia

Named one of the “Best Places to Work in Virginia” by Virginia Business magazine (2015, 2018, 2019, 2023, 2024).

Better Business Bureau

Rated “A+” by the Better Business Bureau®.

Our company today

Our company today

What separates Crutchfield from everyone else? Our expertise, our belief in a premium customer experience, and our true passion for the gear. Bottom line — we're all about providing the info and guidance you need to find what's right for you.

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

Vehicle research team

Bill Crutchfield stands by his original Porsche.

Crutchfield has more car audio DIY knowledge 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 photos.

Hands-on research

Stacy, from our research team, documents measurements from a product.

Our product research team opens the box for almost every one of the thousands of products we sell. Why? 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.

Training

Our Advisors studying hard during one of their training sessions

Before our experts ever talk to customers on their own, they go through extensive classroom and on-the-job training. 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, and install stereos in their own vehicles. “They live with the product,” says JR, the head trainer at our Charlottesville headquarters, “so they can speak from experience when they talk to customers.”

Sustainability

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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.