John D’Eri was concerned his autistic son, Andrew, would have trouble finding steady employment after completing school. Set on changing those odds, D’Eri, who spent two decades building and running litigation-support companies in New York, began researching businesses he could run to employ Andrew and other young adults with autism.
When his other son, Thomas, graduated from college in 2011 with a double major in finance and sustainability, D’Eri enlisted him as cofounder. The pair just needed a business idea. Their research took them to Florida, where they gave themselves a crash course in the car-wash trade and — with the help of a corporate disability consultant and team of autistic workers they hired — spent a summer at a borrowed car wash ironing out a viable set of work processes.