Seriously into audio since 1974.

From its modest beginning in the family garage to the today, Crutchfield has focused on one thing: helping customers choose – and use – electronics that make them happy. Here's how Bill Crutchfield got started.

When Bill Crutchfield founded his company in 1974, he was busy turning his personal hobby of restoring antique cars into a side business. (Hands-on projects weren't new for him: as a kid growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia, he built multiple sound systems, including a two-way radio for his bike, and the first stereo system in the state.) However, when Bill tried – and failed -- to find a specialist to help him put an aftermarket radio in a Porsche 365, he recognized an opportunity: to create a mail-order car stereo business for do-it-yourselfers across the nation.

The first year was tough. Bankers and suppliers were hard to sell on the new idea, and sales were small. Bill persevered, writing his own catalog, filling his mother's garage with inventory, taking customer calls himself, even in the middle of the night, and driving the packages to the post office in the back of his father's Lincoln. Finally, he realized the only way to make the business a success was to get help from his customers.

Our customers had the answer.

Early in 1975, Bill wrote to his customers asking what they liked and didn't like about the business. The responses were game-changing – it turned out customers loved the products and Bill's hands-on service, but were intimidated by the process and know-how involved in installing a car stereo. Armed with this discovery and his own first-hand installation experience, Bill transformed his business by adding deep levels of information to his catalogs – and Crutchfield took off.

We've grown a lot since then – we have over 450 employees and we've helped more than 6 million customers, and counting.

But some things haven't changed.

Crutchfield is still headquartered in Bill's hometown of Charlottesville, VA, and Bill is still at the helm. Most important of all, Bill's belief in exceptional customer service and detailed, expert information continue to drive us today.

Our History

Bill Crutchfield is born in Charlottesville, Virginia, to Dr. and Mrs. William Crutchfield.

1942

At age nine, Bill builds a radio.

1951
Bill, age 15

Bill builds a 2-way radio for his bicycle.

1953

At age 15, Bill constructs the first stereo sound system in the state. Building on this success, he starts a business building and installing home audio systems in homes around Charlottesville.

1955

After majoring in business at the University of Virginia, Bill graduates from college and becomes an officer in the Air Force, where he served as a commander of a Titan II ICBM crew.

1965

Bill leaves the Air Force and comes home to Charlottesville, where he spends the next three years working for area businesses.

1970
Bill's 1965 Porsche

While restoring classic cars as a hobby-turned-side business, Bill gets the idea for a mail-order car stereo business. The Porsche 365 shown here is the same one that sparked the idea for his business. It remains unfinished at the Crutchfield HQ.

1974
Our first catalog

In September, Bill sends his first catalog and begins receiving orders from customers.

1974

In January, Bill asks his customers for their insights. He uses them to transform his catalog and his business.

1975
The reenvisioned Crutchfield catalog

In April, the reimagined catalog is mailed to customers and business takes off. It may be the first "magalog" in catalog history.

1975
Joel, our first employee

Bill starts hiring employees, including Joel, one of his first full-time employees. Joel is still with Crutchfield today.

1975
TV catalog page

The business expands to include home audio and video and telephones.

1981

When company morale and company sales start flagging, Bill realizes something more is at work than the aftermath of a recession. He crafts the Crutchfield Basic Beliefs in order to clearly define the values on which he has built Crutchfield. Employees respond, and the business takes off again. The Basic Beliefs, today numbering five, are still posted on office walls and people’s desks company-wide.

1983

Our growing library of vehicle fit info hits the digital age: we build a Unix-based install guide for Advisors to use when helping customers.

1985
Vehicle Research Team

We formally create a vehicle research team, tasked with measuring and recording vehicle information so we can ensure a perfect fit.

1992
Mastersheets

Crutchfield begins releasing MasterSheets™, detailed installation instructions for specific makes and models of vehicle, with measurement info and illustrations.

1992
Our first website

The Internet begins to change the world of shopping. Crutchfield launches a modest early website, becoming the first web retailer to sell consumer electronics.

1995
Bizrate Circle of Excellence Award

BizRate.com awards Crutchfield.com the coveted “Circle of Excellence” Platinum award.

2000

Crutchfield Corporation was awarded the Governor's One Virginia Technology Award in recognition of its innovative use of technology to serve Virginia's citizens.

2002
Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame

Bill Crutchfield is voted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame. Other 2007 inductees include visionaries and innovators Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft; Dick Schulze, founder of Best Buy; and the legendary Dr. Amar Bose.

2007

After years of making and hosting how-to videos and product reviews, Crutchfield launches our official YouTube channel, garnering over 100,000 views in the first 6 months.

2008
Bill and the Olympic torch

In May, Bill Crutchfield carries the Beijing Olympic Torch in Hangzhou, China.

2008
our Discovery store

In September, Crutchfield replaces their Charlottesville retail location with a new store boasting a dramatically different format; the “Discovery Store” uses patented technologies to offer virtualized listening experiences for hundreds of speakers, and contains interactive fixtures offering access to multiple photos, customer reviews, deep technical information and more for every product featured.

2013
Crutchfield now carries pro audio

The many Crutchfield employees who are musicians finally get their wish: Crutchfield begins carrying pro audio equipment.

2013
Crutchfield wins 15th Bizrate award

Crutchfield.com receives the coveted Bizrate.com “Circle of Excellence” award for the 15th time in a row, making it the only company in the United States to win every year consecutively.

2014
Crutchfield named one of Virginia's Best Places to Work

Crutchfield is named one of the 2015 Best Places to Work in Virginia by Virginia Business magazine and the Best Companies Group.

2015

Life at Crutchfield

We like working here. Here are just a few of the things that make it more than just a job.

Join our team

Local music legend Charlie Pastorfield jams out during our employee awards ceremony

Crutchfield is home to many musicians. Local music legend Charlie Pastorfield jams out during our employee awards ceremony

Our CEO, Bill, is a huge animal lover.

Our CEO, Bill, is a huge animal lover. His buddy Enzo smothered him with kisses during a recent photo shoot.

>Senior UX Designer, Rachel.

Senior UX Designer, Rachel, goofs off with her family during a photoshoot for our catalog.

Movie night at our headquarters.

Movie night at our headquarters was a hit with our employees and their families.

Life in Virginia

Charlottesville's Downtown Mall

Charlottesville's Downtown Mall

Nestled along 8 blocks of historic buildings, Charlottesville's pedestrian mall has an ice rink at one end, a music pavilion at the other, and more than 30 restaurants and 120 stores along the picturesque brick streets in between.

The Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains

Whether you live and work with our team in southwest Virginia, help customers at our Harrisonburg store, or are based in our home town of Charlottesville, the Blue Ridge Mountains are a stunning natural backdrop to each day.

Virginia is for … musicians

Virginia is for … musicians

Stretching from southwest Virginia eastward is the 300-mile Crooked Road, a string of historical spots and venues where Virginia's musical heritage of Appalachian music, bluegrass, and country is celebrated today. In Charlottesville, a vibrant music scene gave rise to Dave Matthews and the beat still goes on: find your groove at any number of open-air and indoor venues.

Monticello

Monticello

Thomas Jefferson's own home sits on the crown of a mountain overlooking Charlottesville. It's an important symbol of the rich and complex history of Virginia and Jefferson himself.

Wineries, breweries and more

Wineries, breweries and more

Raise your glass. You'll find tasting tours, an earful of local music, relaxed brunches on a patio, music venues, or even polo, at one of Virginia's many acclaimed vineyards, breweries and cideries.

The University of Virginia

The University of Virginia

Thomas Jefferson's legacy to Charlottesville and the state of Virginia, U.Va brings campus and community together with sports, arts events, and much more.

Social Media & News

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Looking for press releases? Click here.

Crutchfield & the environment

Crutchfield has a long history of taking great care of its customers. Doing our part to take care of the environment is just a logical extension of that dedication.

Energy Use

When Bill built our headquarters building in Charlottesville, VA, he chose a bermed design, which helps protect the building from extreme weather while maintaining more consistent inner temperatures. Inside, a programmed climate control system regulates temperatures according to employee work-cycles, instead of operating at full capacity around the clock. Energy-saving lightbulbs at HQ and in our warehouse and stores save precious watts as well.

Packing peanuts

We no longer use polystyrene packing peanuts as a shipping material.

Instead, we make and use biodegradable, starch-based peanuts that dissolve in water or in a compost pile. Switching to biodegradable peanuts means that the 150 trailer loads of polystyrene peanuts we used to use each year won't go into landfills as dumped plastic. Also, it takes less material to make our new peanuts, meaning we're sparing the atmosphere a bit of diesel exhaust, too.

Our catalogs

The first step is to make sure we're only sending catalogs to people who want them, so we don't waste any paper on unwanted mailings. (If you no longer wish to receive our catalogs, you may opt-out by calling 1.888.955.6000.)

Next, when we're choosing the paper for our catalogs, we try to balance environmentally preferable fibers, which can be heavier to transport, with lighter-weight grades of paper (which require less fuel to transport and therefore reduce environmental impact). Finally, we continue to work with paper suppliers and printers who have solid environmental programs, including sustainable forestry practices.

We hope you find our catalogs useful, and we encourage you to recycle them when you're done with them!