The D'Eri family, owners of Rising Tide Car Wash in Parkland, Fla., have been invited to speak at an upcoming autism conference. (Photo: PRNewsFoto/Rising Tide Car Wash)

The D’Eri family, owners of Rising Tide Car Wash in Parkland, Fla., have been invited to speak at an upcoming autism conference. (Photo: PRNewsFoto/Rising Tide Car Wash)

One Florida car wash business shared its inspiring story with the nation Monday on NBC’s “Nightly News with Brian Williams.” The story of their business model — which employs people with autism — has become a sensation in the last few months, with the owners invited to speak conferences, including a TEDx talk.

Rising Tide Car Wash has made it their mission to give young adults on the autism spectrum a way to be productive members of their community. The owners, John and Donna D’Eri, were inspired by their own son after visiting a car wash. Faced with concerns about his future, they realized employment doesn’t have to be the major hurdle it seems. So the family started a car wash business that employs more than 30 people with autism.

On the program, NBC News correspondent Harry Smith asks co-owner Donna D’Eri, “What does this give your son.”

She replies, “This gives him a life. That was John’s vision from the beginning, but now we all see it.”

One thing that the D’Eri family continues to emphasize is that this is not a charity; it is a viable business model. The employees are hard working and capable. They are not on their cell phones or shirking their work. Asked what the best part of his job is, their son says shining the tires.

The Rising Tide website is one of the best we’ve seen in the car wash industry, and they seem to be doing a lot of things right (if their national notoriety isn’t evidence enough). They offer a monthly membership for $18 that includes unlimited car washes [see “Double Your Sales In Half The Time“].

Rising Tide, however, isn’t the only car wash that discovered the benefits of an outside-the-box employment strategy. One chain in Arizona has employed dozens of people with disabilities, including people who are blind. “They bring to the table this work ethic and attitude that really lifts the entire spirit of the crew,” the owner said.

To see the “Nightly News” video, click here.

We’ll keep you posted on these business, but meanwhile, are there other car wash businesses doing a similar thing?