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 356, 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.