Raceway Car Wash, which has 30 locations throughout Arizona, Nevada and Southern/Central California, is thriving—in part, due to the skills and talents of two of its recently hired employees in Arizona, both of whom are on the autism spectrum.
“Autism is something that is really close and dear to me,” explains Marc Mattfolk, regional manager who heads up the operations for the Arizona market. “I have a step-brother who has autism and a niece who has autism, and I see how they struggle.”
In fact, watching their struggles—yet knowing their talents—is what led Mattfolk to approach Raceway’s owners with the idea of hiring those on the spectrum, and later reaching out to Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) to become an Employment Partner.
“I know that my niece is a very intelligent and gifted young lady, but I know when she goes to a job interview, where it’s one-on-one, it might be a struggle for her and so that might not reflect well,” Mattfolk explains. “The interviewer might not recognize that she’s skilled and talented and can absolutely do the job. [That led me to want] to create opportunities for people who might go through the same kinds of struggles.”
When Mattfolk brought up the idea to Raceway’s upper management/ownership team, the response was immediate and positive. Raceway’s mission is to champion the well-being of the communities it serves by giving customers and employees a clear path to success and the triumph of making a difference in the world. Working with SAARC was a great way to do that.
“All three of them responded immediately and said, ‘Let’s sit down and make this work. Let’s meet right away,’” says Mattfolk. “They were absolutely on board. We’re very inclusive [at Raceway] and we like to give opportunities to anyone we can, anyone who has earned a chance…whether that’s with promotion from within or hiring people who might struggle to find employment opportunities.”
So the team at Raceway Car Wash reached out to SARRC’s Employment Partners program.
Through the program, SARRC helps build job skills in those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) via vocational assessments, social and adaptive skills training, and trial work opportunities and internships. SARRC also partners with local and national employers to increase employment opportunities for those with ASD.
In addition to working with SARRC, the team at Raceway reached out to the Rising Tide Car Wash, a successful car wash company in Florida whose primary mission is to employ adults with autism, for advice on creating successful opportunities.
So far Raceway Car Wash has hired two employees through SARRC’s Employment Partners program. It’s been a win-win for everyone.
Kristopher at the Peoria location is a tunnel loader, the person primarily responsible for making sure the customer properly loads the vehicle onto the track—that it’s done safely and that they’re aligned properly—and provides instructions while they’re in the wash tunnel.
Connor is working at the location in Mesa, handling a variety of tasks, from tunnel loading to lot sweeping to sales.
“Both managers are extremely happy,” Mattfolk says. “They’re both doing an extremely solid job. They are Raceway champions!”
Partnering with SARRC
The partnership with SARRC has made finding the right employees and ensuring they’re successful in their roles easy.
“Dealing with SARRC has been really easy,” says Mattfolk. “They’ve been really responsive; they’re always willing to help. They reach out to me all the time to see if there’s anything they can do to help. It’s been a great partnership so far and I just hope we can continue to grow it. It’s been fantastic.
“I would say my only disappointment is that we haven’t been able to hire more people so far! We’re hoping to hire more people in all types of roles but we just haven’t had many openings pop up recently. When I do, my first email will be to SARRC. The job coaches [who work with SARRC’s candidates and help coach them through interviews, job train and provide support] have been incredible to deal with and they’ve been very hands-on and helpful.
“I think SARRC has done a really, really great job in helping us make this a successful program.”
Thank you to our 53 Employment Partners who have created competitive, community-based employment opportunities for adults with autism. We're grateful to each of our partners, who have truly paved the way to an amazing, supportive and inclusive community! If you're an employer interested in learning more, click here.