Family-Run Car Wash Employs 83 Workers with Autism: 'It Provides Hope'

"Empowering individuals with autism is a critical issue in today's world," said Thomas D'Eri

D’Eri Family Rising Tide Car WashCredit: Rising Tide Car Warsh
Photo: Rising Tide Car Wash

John D’Eri didn’t just start the car wash Rising Tide with his son Thomas in South Florida because he thought it would be a great business. His main goal was to create something where his other son Andrew, who has autism, could work.

Today, Andrew is one of the car wash’s hardest workers. The two locations have 82 other employees with autism, which makes up 90 percent of their workforce, according to Florida Trend.

D’Eri told the news outlet that his business services 825 cars a day and has an 8 percent annual employee turnover rate. According to D’Eri, this is lower than the national average.

He and his family also created an online course to help families create businesses for their children.

“If we come up with that, then parents will say ‘I’ll try it,’ ” he told Florida Trend. “The best thing about Rising Tide’s success is that it is a success story. It provides hope.”

Thomas, who is COO of the company, was named one of the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs.

“Empowering individuals with autism is a critical issue in today’s world. Autism is a valuable diversity, as opposed to a disability that requires sympathy ― and it’s important for communities to understand all that individuals with autism have to offer,” he told Florida Trend.

D’Eri told the Miami Herald his reasons for opening up the second location in Margate, Florida.

“By opening the Margate location, we are not only giving more young adults with autism opportunities to realize their capabilities, gain confidence, make friends, gain financial independence, and have a place to call their own; but we are also providing South Floridians with another top-notch car wash experience,” D’Eri said in 2017.

Their company is now one of the largest employers of people with autism in the U.S., according to the news outlet.

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