Like many parents of children with autism, John D'Eri worried about his son Andrew's future. Living in a world where most people with autism are overlooked in the workplace, D'Eri knew he had to take action.
In 2013, he and his son Tom decided to open a car wash business with a purpose: to help Andrew and others like him have a chance in the world, to earn a paycheck and build a community.
"I set out to help my son and others like him have a life," said D'Eri.
In just three short years, he went from father of the year to a true visionary, with a scalable business, Rising Tide Car Wash, growing by the day.
"We moved the wash from 40,000 cars a year when we bought it to 160,000," he said. "That's a quadruple, inside of three years. You can't do that without a great staff."
The repetition involved in the work is actually perfect for those on the autism spectrum who gravitate toward repetitive behavior. "Their attitude is strong," said D'Eri. "That goes to the consumer and nothing can beat that."
Now, four miles down the road, a second Rising Tide Car Wash is under construction. Despite not having a single ad, they've already received over 700 job applications.
D'Eri's efforts to help those with autism in his community started in his Parkland, Florida community but has since gone global. Through Ted Talks, seminars, and even a testimony to the United Nation, D'Eri is not only uplifting autistic people, but shifting the way people view them and their capabilities.
As for Andrew — he’s a new man. "He’s motivated," his father said. "And motivation is something Andrew never had but is key to life, right?"