From FM radios to smartphone-capable car stereos, we’ve been helping customers pick the right electronics for 40 years. And here’s how we got started.
When he founded his company in 1974, Bill Crutchfield had no reason to imagine that he would one day join Thomas Edison in the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame. Bankers and suppliers laughed when he told them he wanted to open a mail order business selling car stereos to do-it-yourselfers. But Bill had something going for him that they couldn't see - a strong instinct to connect with his customers and use their feedback as his compass.
Sales our first year were terrible, and Bill didn't know exactly what the problem was. So he mailed a questionnaire to several hundred customers, asking what was wrong with the catalog and the business. They replied that they didn't know much about car stereos and were intimidated by the thought of installing one.
Bill decided to fill the Crutchfield catalog with information, so readers would be comfortable with car stereo. Emphasizing complete information and exceptional customer service were what it took to get this company off and running, and these values continue to define our company culture today.
Since 1974, we have taken apart more than 12,500 cars and trucks in order to build the world's largest database of car stereo fit information, so shoppers can easily find what will fit in their specific vehicles. We've developed world-class tech support that we offer for free for the lifetime of any product we sell. We shared our detailed product information online in 1995 as the first Web retailer to sell consumer electronics. In 2013, we opened a new store in Charlottesville, using intelligent displays and virtual listening rooms powered by our own patented technology, to give listeners a broader understanding of what each product can do. Most recently, we've followed the urgings of the many musicians here at Crutchfield and branched into pro audio.
Bill's Hall of Fame selection is one of many honors and awards we have received over the years. What do we do to earn them?
"We give our people the tools and encouragement they need to custom-tailor solutions for their customers," said Chris Lilley, Senior Director, Human Resources, "and that applies just as much after the sale as it does beforehand. Helping people install and operate their gear is as important as helping them choose it. Service isn't seen as 'overhead' here, it's all part of the fun we have helping people."
Thanks for supporting us through our first 40 years of business. We can't wait to see where the next 40 take us.
Corporate headquarters are in scenic and historic Charlottesville, Virginia.
1 Crutchfield Park
Charlottesville, VA 22911