The vision for Rising Tide Car Wash was inspired by Founder and CEO John D'Eri watching his son Andrew struggle to find his place in the world. As most families affected by autism often lose sleep over, John spent countless hours thinking about what Andrew would do when he was no longer there to support him. As Andrew grew up John started to see that although he was becoming a very capable young man, but there were virtually no opportunities for him after he aged out of the school system. Then in 2011, when Andrew was 21, John came up with the novel idea of buying a car wash to employ Andrew and others like him.
Creating a sustainable social enterprise
This was the beginning of an eight year journey with John's other son, Thomas, our Co-Founder and COO. The two have been working alongside each other every step of the way to uncover and address the root causes of the over 90% unemployment rate among individuals with autism. 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. Through a lot of hard work and help from some incredible partners, they've built Rising Tide Car Wash. Now we utilize the strengths many individuals with autism have and leverage those into the highest quality experience on the market.
Proving that everyone can shine
In a journey with many twists and turns, we bought a failing carwash and transformed it into a wildly profitable, high-performing service organization that customers love to support and employees love to work for. Our retention rate is five times our competitors. The struggling business that we bought in 2012 was only washing 35,000 cars per year. Rising Tide is now a thriving operation that washes more than 150,000 cars per year.
Our second location, built from scratch, achieved operational breakeven sales after only two months of opening its doors, and is trending to be even more successful than our first.
A path forward: Everyone wins when anyone can win
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. Our team members are exceptionally well suited for and enthusiastic about the work we 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.
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.