As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary celebration, we are profiling industry people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its fifth week, our Ones To Watch series continues with Abe and Art Van Wingerden, the brothers at the helm of Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C.
Ages–38 (Abe) and 40 (Art)
Their jobs–Younger brother Abe is president of sales, marketing and merchandising while Art is president of greenhouse operations. Both are CEOs.
A lot of labor–With 680 full-time employees, Metrolina is constantly forced to develop new programs to train and retain its best employees.
Speaking out–Abe speaks about four or five times each year at colleges and universities or trade shows to remind his peers about the value the industry offers. “People outside the industry understand how we are a great industry for growth and a great industry to work in if you are starting a career,” he says.
Keeping an open mind–Metrolina Greenhouses stands apart from others in the industry, Abe says, because it’s willing to expand the operation to meet customer growth and it provides “home décor solutions” rather than just plants.
Technology-minded–Over the next five years, Metrolina plans to update ERP, shipping and internal systems. At the moment, Metrolina is adapting its technology to house more customer sales data in order to do better trend analysis and order management analysis.
Twenty-five years from now–The industry will be stronger, more efficient, more consolidated and more involved with home décor than landscaping.
Why they’re ones to watch–Abe and Art are leading one of the largest and most successful finished plant growing operations in the country. Metrolina has the largest single facility at 5.2 million square feet, and it excels at serving the box stores and producing plants with the most modern technology there.