Rising Tide car wash in Florida has found a way to provide excellent service while helping people with autism find employment. With 43 employees, 35 of whom are on the autism spectrum, the car wash is making a real difference to people who usually struggle to find meaning in their lives.
CEO John D’Eri wanted to find a way to help his son Andrew, 24, who was diagnosed with the condition at three years old. John worried that after he passed on, Andrew would be sitting around in a room being cared for by a stranger. “I want him to have a job. I want him to have friends that are like him,” John says. He explains that the business not only helps Andrew and other people with autism, but it provides welcome respite for Andrew’s mom, who has cared for her son his whole life.
Andrew’s brother Tom D’Eri manages the car wash, and points out that employing people with autism is a huge benefit for a business like this. “They have a great eye for detail,” he points out. “We view autism as one of our key competitive advantages.”
Tom speaks about how many autistic people have nothing to do after leaving the education system. “They come to us with very little purpose and very little hope for their future,” he says. “But once they start working for us and getting that positive reinforcement, that really starts to open them up.”
Not only that, but the car wash is changing public perceptions and stereotypes about people with autism. This is a wonderful idea which we would love to see replicated in other car washes and other industries across the country!