Metrolina’s Tom Van Wingerden Dies In Accident

Metrolina's Tom Van Wingerden Dies In Accident

We lost one of our industry’s greatest visionaries on Saturday when Tom Van Wingerden, founder of Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C, died in a utility vehicle accident early in the morning at the greenhouses. He was 63.

Born in Holland on Feb. 12, 1946, Tom was one of the eldest children of Art and Cora Van Wingerden, who are credited with building the modern greenhouse floriculture industry in the United States. Tom immigrated to the United States in 1971 and started Metrolina a year later in his mid 20s. Today, Metrolina Greenhouses is ranked at No. 6 on our Top 100 Growers with the largest single-site location in the nation with 5.4 million square feet of greenhouse production on a 150-acre site.

Beyond sheer size and excelling at serving the nation’s largest retailers, Metrolina has always been known for its pioneering use of technology, on the cutting edge of automation. Tom was an inventor and developed his own prototypes for transplanting machines, including the Metroplanter in the early 1990s, which extracted plugs from their cells with corkscrew-like coils, like augers. Greenhouse Grower featured Tom on the cover twice as an early innovator. While the July 1985 story written by Editor Jane Lieberth focused on innovations she saw touring Metrolina, the April 1994 story written by then Assistant Editor Delilah Onofrey zeroed in on the Metroplanter.

Tom sold the business to his children in 2006. He is survived by wife, Vickie, children Art, Abe, Helen, Michael, Rose and Thomas and 14 grandchildren.

His legacy in the industry is broad. “From greenhouse innovation to labor-saving technologies like a transplanter, to putting the right people in the right place to succeed, to his willingness to finalize a succession plan in 2006 when he was still young, all of these will be remembered,” his family said in a letter issued to friends in the industry. “Typically, he was years ahead of the norm. As someone told us yesterday, in the 63 short years Dad was with us on this earth, he packed about 125 years of life into it. While we are all sad, it has been uplifting to see how Dad impacted so many lives in a positive way. Dad was the visionary founder, a constant inventor, a generous businessman, a missionary in Haiti, a great leader, and most importantly, a great husband, father and grandfather to all of us in his family. Metrolina will continue to push forward and we now dedicate our work in Dad’s memory, as he would want it.”

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22, at:
Calvary Church
5801 Pineville Matthews Road
Charlotte, NC 28226
704-341-5361

Services will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23, at Calvary Church and burial will follow after the services at Ramah Church Cemetery, 14401 Ramah Church Road, Huntersville, NC 28078.

The family recommends memorial contributions be made to Double Harvest, a charity the Van Wingerden family founded in Haiti:

Double Harvest–Haiti
Tom Van Wingerden Memorial Fund
55 South Main Street
Oberlin, OH 44074
www.DoubleHarvest.org
440-714-1694

Outside the greenhouse industry, Tom and his children were known in North Carolina for racing cars at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Here is the link to the story from the Charlotte Observer:
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/topstories/story/1134894.html

Leave a Reply

12 comments on “Metrolina’s Tom Van Wingerden Dies In Accident

  1. My deepest sympathy to the Van Wingerden family during this time of loss. Your family will remain in my thoughts and prayers.
    George Strimpel, Four Star Greenhouse

  2. Hallo Vicky Wij willen je Condoleren met het grote verlies van Ton.Het was een verschrikkelijk bericht,en ongeloof dat Ton er niet meer is,nooit meer het lachende gezicht,te zien wij wensen jou en fam heel veel sterkte in deze ongelooflijke moeilijke tijd hartelijke groeten van Gerrit en Lona Hollander

  3. My prayers go out to God on behalf this wonderful VanWingerden family at the most refered Christian holiday season of the year. May God touch you gently as you continue on with Tom’s vision for your families and the Metrolina business.

  4. With Tom’s passing comes sadness and with reflection comes joy knowing that he shared his life as Christ would desire from us all. Giving and serving is a great legacy. May your sadness be filled with peace that surpasses all understanding and rest knowing that Tom is with his Lord and savior. Chris Colasono, Skagit Gardens.

  5. We are keeping you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.
    We were very sorry to hear about your loss.
    With Deepest Sympathy
    Rich & Susie Owen

  6. My deepest sympathy to the Van Wingerden family during this time of loss. Your family will remain in my thoughts and prayers.
    George Strimpel, Four Star Greenhouse

  7. Hallo Vicky Wij willen je Condoleren met het grote verlies van Ton.Het was een verschrikkelijk bericht,en ongeloof dat Ton er niet meer is,nooit meer het lachende gezicht,te zien wij wensen jou en fam heel veel sterkte in deze ongelooflijke moeilijke tijd hartelijke groeten van Gerrit en Lona Hollander

  8. Thinking of the Van Wingerden family in this time of sorrow. I will keep you in my prayers.
    Penny Kosa,
    Four Star Greenhouse

  9. My prayers go out to God on behalf this wonderful VanWingerden family at the most refered Christian holiday season of the year. May God touch you gently as you continue on with Tom’s vision for your families and the Metrolina business.

  10. With Tom’s passing comes sadness and with reflection comes joy knowing that he shared his life as Christ would desire from us all. Giving and serving is a great legacy. May your sadness be filled with peace that surpasses all understanding and rest knowing that Tom is with his Lord and savior. Chris Colasono, Skagit Gardens.

  11. We are keeping you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.
    We were very sorry to hear about your loss.
    With Deepest Sympathy
    Rich & Susie Owen

More From Top 100 Growers...
Double Whammy Merchandise Display At CAST2015

May 28, 2015

Grow Inspiration To Grow The Horticulture Industry

We need to work together as the horticulture industry to inspire and instruct consumers with our plant knowledge and marketing expertise.

Read More
Plant-Select_for-web

May 28, 2015

PlantSelect.org And FindPlants.net Assist Consumers With Growing And Finding Plants

The recently launched PlantSelect.org and FindPlants.net websites offer growing and maintenance tips, where-to-buy information and design ideas to help consumers have success with growing and finding plants.

Read More
Cal-Poly fields

May 27, 2015

Cal-Poly Students And Faculty Ask Industry To Help Save Horticulture Facilities

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, has released an update to its Master Plan that indicates that almost all of its orchards, horticulture facilities and field sites could be repurposed for buildings, including residential, and/or recreational space. According to a letter from Scott Steinmaus, the horticulture and crop science department head, the proposed changes directly affect the current orchard plantings and other long term plans for the department. The department is committed to making sure that its facilities remain invaluable teaching environments that enable its students to learn about crop, fruit and horticulture production, food safety and pest protection, in addition to providing sites for externally funded research projects that benefit the industry. Industry members are invited to submit comments to the university. According to Steinmaus, a recent eMail to the Cal-Poly community from the university president indicates that all of the input gathered through the end of May will be studied by the planning […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Top 100

May 8, 2015

2015 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Grower List

The 2015 Top 100 Growers list represents the largest greenhouse operations in the United States. Greenhouse Grower magazine puts out a list annually based on environmentally controlled greenhouse space.

Read More
Top 100

May 8, 2015

The Top 100 Growers Tackle Crop Protection Challenges

We asked the Top 100 Growers how they have changed their production practices to address consumer concerns about pollinator health, as well as how integrated pest management and the use of biocontrols have changed their operations.

Read More
Top 100

May 8, 2015

2015 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Growers: Reading The Ran…

For the second straight year, Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers survey shows the largest growers are rapidly expanding.

Read More
40

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Young’s Plant Farm (No. 40)

Learn more about Young's Plant Farm, No. 40 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
39

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Dewar Nurseries (No. 39)

Learn more about Dewar Nurseries, No. 39 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
36

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Garden State Growers (No. 36)

Learn more about Garden State Growers, No. 36 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
35

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Plant Marketing (No. 35)

Learn more about Plant Marketing, No. 35 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
48

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Van Wingerden International Inc. …

Learn more about Van Wingerden International Inc., No. 48 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
50

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Bailey Nurseries (No. 50)

Learn more about Bailey Nurseries International Inc., No. 50 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
26a

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Bela Flor Nurseries (No. 26)

Learn more about Bela Flor Nurseries , No. 26 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers List

Read More
34

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Battlefield Farms, Inc. (No. 34)

Learn more about Battlefield Farms, Inc., No. 34 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
44

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Post Gardens, Inc. (No. 44)

Learn more about Post Gardens, Inc., No. 44 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
43

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Grower Direct Farms (No. 43)

Learn more about Grower Direct Farms, No. 43 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 75

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Harts Nursery (No. 75)

Learn more about Harts Nursery, No. 75 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 71

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Van de Wetering Greenhouses (No. …

Learn more about Van de Wetering Greenhouses, No. 71 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 71

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Welby Gardens Co./Hardy Boy Plant…

Learn more about Welby Gardens Co./Hardy Boy Plants-Hardystarts, No. 71 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 65

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Corso’s Perennials (No. 65)

Learn more about Corso's Perennials, No. 65 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 64

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Bob’s Market And Greenhouse…

Learn more about Bob's Market And Greenhouses, No. 64 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More