THE BLOG
07/30/2015 09:25 am ET Updated Jul 30, 2016

Meet the Gutsy Dad That Started a Car Wash to Help His Son Find Purpose

Most car washes are filled with less-than-enthusiastic workers. But in Parkland, Fla., there's a place to clean your car where the employees -- 80 percent of whom are along the autism spectrum -- are extremely excited about their daily responsibilities, making the turnover rate is almost non-existent.

Started by the father-and-son team of John and Tom D'Eri, Rising Tide Car Wash gives their son and brother, Andrew, who was identified as an autistic individual at the age of three, and its other employees the chance to lead a fulfilling life.

In 2011, Andrew was approaching the age of 22, a milestone known in the autism community as "falling off the cliff," when virtually all government support expires. That's when John and Tom formed CanDo Business Ventures, a nonprofit focused on finding scalable businesses that could employ people with autism. After much research, they identified the car wash industry as a good match for those with autism since they're more likely to be engaged by detailed, repetitive processes than those not on the spectrum.

Rising Tide Car Wash officially opened on April 1, 2013. It's a for-profit company, financed by the personal assets amassed by John's earlier business venture. Employees are found through community partners, such as the Broward County School District and the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities.