Small Business in Parkland, Florida
And they’re doing it with a staff that consists largely of adults living with what a condition that is usually regarded as a huge disability – autism.
Kevin Wolyniec, General Manager of Rising Tide Carwash
“We are not selling sympathy” notes Kevin Wolyniec, General Manager of Rising Tide Carwash.
“We’re located .9 miles away from one of the best carwash businesses in the nation. The fact that we are growing so rapidly really says something about our staff, our people. This is manual labor, long hours in the Florida sun and humidity, and we have the best crew” he says.
Entrepreneur John D’Eri
Rising Tide Carwash was begun by Entrepreneur John D’Eri. John’s son Andrew is on the autism spectrum, and John wanted to create opportunity for his son, and others like him.
Wolyniec tells me that there is a 90% unemployment rate among American adults with autism. Yet with a total of 45 employees at Rising Tide Carwash, 38 of them are autistic.
“We don’t consider this a disability at all” Wolyniec says. “In fact, we consider it a very serious competitive advantage. These people are very detail oriented, and they thrive with repetition in their work. We break down the process, and include a certain amount of steps, and it’s broken down between driver’s side and passenger side. As they do the job, and engage in the repetition and do the same thing over and over, they grow. Most of our staff never had jobs before, yet some of them are moving up in to management positions.”
Wolyniec tells me that the decision to launch a carwash business staffed with autistic adults was not entered-into lightly.
“We agreed that it may not work, but it was a calculated risk. We actually rented a carwash to do a beta test, and in the test we included both men and women who were within the autism spectrum. We wanted to make sure this would work, because the worst thing you can do for a person with autism is offer them a lifeline, and then take it away. Instead of putting $2million in to a business that fails, hiring 30 or 40 people with autism, and then taking it all away and telling them that it failed, we tested the concept first. Some very sincere thought, and emotion, went in to this enterprise.”
Listen to my full discussion with Kevin Wolyniec