Metrolina Greenhouses Shares Goals for Future at 50th Anniversary
Built up from humble beginnings, today Metrolina Greenhouses’ headquarters in Huntersville, North Carolina, is the largest single-site, heated wholesale greenhouse operation in the U.S.
Metrolina Greenhousesin Huntersville, North Carolina, on April 26 marked its 50th year in business, according to a news release from the company.
Metrolina Greenhouses spans more than 200 acres of indoor greenhouse production and nearly 300 acres of outdoor production, on a total of 1,000 acres in Huntersville, and York, South Carolina.
But all of that came from starting small. The business was founded in 1972 on one acre in Huntersville, North Carolina by Tom and Vickie VanWingerden, who came to the U.S. from the Netherlands in 1971 with $500 and a dream.
Today, Metrolina Greenhouses is owned and led by Tom and Vickie’s six children – co-CEOs Abe and Art, co-COOs Michael and Thomas, and Board of Directors members Helen and Rose. Metrolina Greenhouses employs 800 year-round, full-time team members with the addition of 400 seasonal workers during peak production.
Co-CEO Abe VanWingerden said that his family and business team are thankful to everyone who helped get Metrolina Greenhouses to where it is today, from the previous generation including Metrolina’s founders and the extended VanWingerden family, to Metrolina Greenhouses’ employee team, retail partners and vendors.
“What I love is, at 50 years we still feel like a young company,” he said. “I see how much more we can accomplish the next 10 years than even what we have done in the last 50 years, because innovation and technology allow us to accomplish our goals so much faster.”
The high-tech, innovative live goods products and services company grows and supplies 75 million garden plants annually through an omnichannel marketing approach, selling plants at 1,400 retail outlets in 19 states across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions for Lowe’s Home Improvement, The Home Depot and Walmart, according to the news release. In the past year, Metrolina Greenhouses began fulfilling online orders for these retailers, shipping plants directly to consumers’ homes in 50 states.
After two years of record sales, all signs point to continued growth and sales, according to Metrolina.
“In the last two cycles of inflation and economic slowdown, in 2008 and 2015, the live goods space remained strong,” Van Wingerden said in the news release. “Our consumer data shows that they are hooked and will continue to invest in plants and gardening.”
As sales volume continues to grow 3% to 5% annually for Metrolina’s retail partners, the greenhouse operation will grow along with it, said co-CEO Art VanWingerden.
“If you’re static and you’re not innovating and expanding, you cannot keep up with demand,” he said. Metrolina has consistently expanded at a rate of about 12-14 acres per year, along with the growth of its retail partners, Art VanWingerden said.
“We’re adding more acres per year than what Dad originally thought we were going to be. He thought if we could get to 12 acres, we’d be set – we’d never have to add on again.”
Art VanWingerden said the main driver for the business today is sustainable, strategic growth. “We want to be sure we’re building a successful business for the employees we have and the customers we’re serving,” he said.
Above, a retention pond at Metrolina. Photo: Metrolina