This week, we are privileged to share the story of an autistic man—Andrew D’eri– who became the improbable answer to create lemonade from a family’s personal and business problem.
Andrew’s father John and brother Tom wanted to find meaningful work for Andrew. The “lemon” they were up against was Andrew’s autism. Over 80% of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed. The indirect costs to their families and the state is between $39,000 and $140,000 per year per individual. Over the next decade, their ranks will swell by 500,000. Most with autism lack social skills and confidence to be employable.
On the other hand, those with autism are good at detailed, repetitive processes.
How would John and Tom solve this seeming impossibility of finding a business that could benefit from Andrew’s strengths and limitations?
CBS News Interviewing Tom and John D’eri.
John and Tom D’eri found the perfect fit between the needs of carwashes and the talents of autistic adults. With unemployment rates at all-time lows, finding and keeping workers is a challenge. In addition, they found it difficult to keep workers focused and productive doing repetitive work.
On the other hand, they found autistic adults had the one key skill needed to excel at car washing: doing detailed, process-oriented, repetitive work day after day after day.
John and Tom found a struggling carwash and imbued it with a new mission:
Rising Tide Car Wash is a scalable social enterprise with the primary mission to employ adults with autism by delivering a first-rate car wash experience to the consumer 2
What were the results of their mission?
Tom describes the impact on the autistic adults they employed:
They come to us with very little purpose and very little hope for their future. But once they start working with us, they start getting the positive reinforcement of doing a good job, a customer being happy, getting a tip, that starts to really open them up.1
In the video below, COO Tom and his dad CEO John describe how Andrew and other autistic adults have been the best employees for their business even as it has brought tremendous enrichment to Andrew’s life. You can also hear how Andrew feels about this business!
Rising Tide Car Wash also experienced profound business improvement. John and Tom turned around a struggling car wash that cleaned just 35,000 cars/year to one now washing over 150,000 cars/year
Andrew and other autistic adults have employment that not only provides them with an income but also the social network and growth in skills and self-confidence to enjoy their lives.
Every business has its “lemons.” Consider a “lemon” in your business and consider how to turn it into “lemonade.”
We would be pleased to serve you, as we work together to turn your business “lemons” into “lemonade.” Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a complimentary meeting.
- Lupkin, Sydney. “How a Family Car Wash Has Changed the Lives of People with Autism,”ABCNews.com , 2/10/2015.
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