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Thomas D'Eri  

Non-Traditional Workforce & Neurodiversity Inclusion Advocate; Co-Founder of Rising Tide Car Wash

Tom D’Eri has dedicated his career to unleashing human potential by creating organizational systems and culture that empower people to grow. D’Eri is the Co-Founder and COO of Rising Tide Car Wash, an organization that employs over 90 individuals with autism in a successful car wash business.

D’Eri is also the Co-Founder of Rising Tide U an organization dedicated to teaching others how to harness the autism advantage. In partnership with University of Miami and the Taft Foundation, D’Eri created The Autism Advantage, the first step-by-step online course that’s designed to help parents learn how to build sustainable social enterprises that employ their loved ones with autism. As of September 2022, D’Eri’s students have created over 195 jobs for people with autism in 24 businesses.

D’Eri is a Forbes 30 Under 30 social entrepreneur and the forthcoming author of The Power of Potential: How a Non-Traditional Workforce Can Lead You to Run Your Business Better.

D’Eri deeply believes that all people have the potential to contribute to society and that businesses can improve their market position by committing themselves to unleashing this potential.

D’Eri currently resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, reading, martial arts and scuba diving.

Speech Topics

The Power of Potential

Tom and his family built Rising Tide Car Wash with the mission of employing his brother, Andrew, and others with autism for 80% of their staff. The business has become a successful chain that washes over 500,000 vehicles per year. You might think that Rising Tide has been so successful because people have celebrated its social mission. That’s true, but the mission alone doesn’t explain the excellence that permeates every aspect of the business: service quality, customer experience, teamwork, management, and organizational design. Put any aspect of Rising Tide’s operation against other businesses, and you’ll find they have the edge.

In this session, Tom tells the inspiring, surprising reason why: The wash’s excellence isn’t in spite of their unusual workforce, but because of it.

Tom will walk the audience through how Rising Tide built a thriving business by:

  • Developing highly accurate hiring practices
  • Designing the work environment to empower all of its team members
  • Developing managers who care enough to coach
  • Building a culture of accountability and psychological safety

Pivot for Your People

Have you ever encountered a system at work that clearly wasn’t designed by someone who actually had to use it? For most of us this is a frustrating part of our day that we simply learn to deal with. But for some, this is the difference between successful employment and being seen as incompetent in their role. In this talk Tom will show you how designing systems, tools and processes for their users, and particularly those who struggle the most, can radically improve your business. Tom will explain how this underutilized approach can have outsized impacts on organizational resilience, scalability, psychological safety, and accountability.

The A Team

Are you struggling to find, afford or keep talent? Most companies misidentify this as a labor market problem but very frequently it is much more of a hiring process problem. When you’re recruiting from the same sources as everyone else it’s easy to see why talent might seem scarce. In this talk Tom unpacks how his company has a waitlist of eager to work talent for challenging frontline jobs at a car wash and how your company can discover and work with the underutilized pool of neurodivergent talent. Learn about the many strengths people with autism bring to the workplace, how to develop a robust pipeline of barriered talent, and how to de-risk the process of hiring barriered employees.

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