Dad Opens Car Wash to Give Autistic Son a Stable Job and Ends up Employing Dozens on the Spectrum

According to the CDC, in the U.S., 1 in 36 children have autism. Despite the prevalence of people with this condition, there are just not enough avenues for their development, especially when they age out of the school system. A man named John D'Eri saw this firsthand when his son, Andrew, struggled to find career opportunities after graduating. Wondering how Andrew would fend for himself when he was no longer around to support him, he came up with an idea. When his son turned 21, D'Eri bought a car wash to employ Andrew and other people on the spectrum. And so, Rising Tide Car Wash was born.

Located in Parkland, Florida, Rising Tide Car Wash now has two very successful locations. They currently employ over 80 people with autism, which makes up 90% of their workforce. Additionally, they have pledged to promote from within, offering new opportunities to existing team members before making outside hires. When they do look for new workers, they hold job auditions and structured interviews that reduce biases. They have also developed a robust training program that teaches every aspect of being a great car wash professional.

What started with a just-purchased, failing car wash in 2011, has become a decade-long adventure for D'Eri and his other son, Tom, who helped launch Rising Tide U (a separate entity dedicated to promoting people with autism in the workforce). Alarmed by the fact that the autism unemployment rate is estimated to be up to 90%, the D'Eris set out to find the causes and address them as business owners. The result was a very sobering but hopeful realization. “They found that there are a lot of incredibly capable people with autism who rarely get a chance to excel in life because they have been labeled with a disability that society pities instead of a diversity that can be harnessed as a competitive advantage for business,” the company's website reads.

As inspiring as their commitment to inclusion is, the D'Eris found something even more exciting. “You might be thinking that we've succeeded in spite of our unusual workforce,” they write. “The truth is that Rising Tide's success is because of our unique team.” The company reports that since their employees are really good at structured tasks, following processes, and paying attention to detail, they are the best at what they do. “They also are what organizational design folks would consider ‘extreme users,' meaning they have the same needs as anyone else, just easier to see. By designing our organization's systems, processes, and culture around the needs of our team, we've been able to reach the highest standards in service and quality.”

Today, Rising Tide washes more than 150,000 cars per year, and boasts a retention rate that is five times that of their competitors. “Every time a customer leaves happy, every successful year of business we complete, and every new store we open is a testament of the value individuals with autism bring to the workforce,” they write.

To stay up to date with Rising Tide Car Wash, you can follow them on Instagram.

Rising Tide Car Wash, in Parkland, Florida, aims to empower people on the autism spectrum by offering them a stable job.

They currently employ over 80 people with autism, which makes up 90% of their workforce.

The company was started by a man named John D'Eri, whose son, Andrew, has autism and was struggling to find career opportunities after graduating.

“You might be thinking that we’ve succeeded in spite of our unusual workforce. The truth is that Rising Tide’s success is because of our unique team.”

Rising Tide Car Wash: Website | Instagram | Facebook
h/t: [Reddit]

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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