Art Van Wingerden: Big-Picture Perspective

Metrolina added an A-frame above trusses to make the most of its push/pull system.

Metrolina Greenhouses, ranked sixth on the Top 100 Growers list, will be expanding even more in the next few years. Art Van Wingerden gave Greenhouse Grower a look into the operation’s future and explains why expansion will be necessary.

GG: What’s driving the need for more production area at Metrolina? Are your customers increasing demand or are you supplying more retailers?

AVW: The current customers we have just want more product. We’re not picking up a ton of stores. We’re trying to, of course. We don’t like to build unless we can fill it up year round. Our retailers are expecting us to do 5 to 7 percent more in the same store as we did last year.

And we do a lot of contract growing, meaning we have people growing flats, 1801s, baskets and all kinds of other stuff for us. We started that about seven years ago and it’s been growing every year. We know if contract work is growing, we need more product, so that’s why we’re adding on. We added seven acres this year onto our MX1 greenhouse. We’ve been able to fill it up, get it sold and still keep all of our contract growing, too.

GG: What are Metrolina’s plans for adding greenhouse area over the next five to 10 years?

AVW: We bought about 110 acres several years ago and we have most of it leveled. We’re about 80 percent done. We’ll probably finish leveling in 2013. So then probably in 2014 or 2015 is when we’ll start adding on. We can put on 40 acres of greenhouse there and 11 acres of outdoor area, which we’ll start on this summer. We have 16 acres of outdoor area right now that we can build a greenhouse on. We won’t do that this year, but we hope to do it next summer.

We’ve taken greenhouse space away over the last three years, about four acres of growing space, to add onto our shipping area. We bring in so much contract growing and you have to have somewhere to park your cars. We took out area where our loading barns are and made that greenhouse space into shipping space.

GG: How much will this new production space be automated? Tell us about the equipment you envision being used in these houses.

AVW: Any production area we add on will be automated like we have in MX1 and MX2, so that’s a table and crane system. Cranes go into the greenhouse, pick the tables up and carry them where they need to be. That’s either carrying them from production out to the greenhouse or picking them up for shipping. We try to touch things with our hands as little as possible. We want the cranes and tables doing all the work. We also maximize our space. We don’t have walkways in every bay. It’s full growing space. I see us doing exactly the same thing there. We’ve had them for 15 years now and we really like the tables and cranes. On 60 acres of outdoor space, we have has a building with poles and trusses and it’s automated; it just doesn’t have a roof on it. We think it takes all the work out of it.

GG: How much has Metrolina expanded in recent years?

AVW: In the last 15 years, we’ve added 85 acres of greenhouse space, that’s covered and heated, and about 21 acres of outdoor area.

GG: Will all this expansion mean breaking ground
on a new site?

AVW: No. All of it will be on site. It is connected to where we are. That’s the way we like it. We’ve looked at doing offsite or two sites, but we don’t think it makes sense when you start figuring out all the freight. We’d rather ship everything from our location. If we build a location 50 miles away, we’d have to ship it here, sort it and then send it out. If you’re going to do that, you’re better off building it where you are. Freight is an expense you’re going to pay every year. Land is an expense you pay one time and you’re done.

GG: Anything else noteworthy going on inside the greenhouses at Metrolina?

AVW: We put a new roof system in our newest seven acres. We put a push/pull MX greenhouse in, but we did the push/pull a little different. Most push/pulls are off the truss, so all the weight goes down to the truss. We put an A-frame above the truss where we have a hanging push/pull system. The reason we did that is we want the gutters and curtain to go north/south. If you have the push/pull typical style down to the truss, then you can’t do the curtains the right way. Now we can do the curtains the right way. We’ve had it up for eight weeks. It’s a very neat system and I think it’s going to work really well.

Leave a Reply

More From Structures...
Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

May 28, 2017

Growers Offer Advice on What to Know Before Your Next Building Project

Two Top 100 Growers discuss their most recent building projects, the challenges they addressed, and what they learned during the process.

Read More
GGS Cannabis Production

April 19, 2017

Suppliers Can Offer Technical Solutions for New Cannabis Growers

Here’s a look at how a few manufacturers have partnered with growers to make their transition into cannabis a smooth one, whether it’s through hands-on guidance or partnering with other industry leaders.

Read More
GrowSpan Series 1000 Greenhouse (GrowSpan) feature

March 24, 2017

New Greenhouse Structure Models Emphasize Crop Protection, Energy Efficiency

Manufacturers of new structure models say they are responding to grower concerns with designs that focus on ventilation, maximizing your space, and incorporating a wide range of crops. Here’s a look at some of their latest offerings.

Read More
Latest Stories
Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

May 28, 2017

Growers Offer Advice on What to Know Before Your Next B…

Two Top 100 Growers discuss their most recent building projects, the challenges they addressed, and what they learned during the process.

Read More
GGS Cannabis Production

April 19, 2017

Suppliers Can Offer Technical Solutions for New Cannabi…

Here’s a look at how a few manufacturers have partnered with growers to make their transition into cannabis a smooth one, whether it’s through hands-on guidance or partnering with other industry leaders.

Read More
GrowSpan Series 1000 Greenhouse (GrowSpan) feature

March 24, 2017

New Greenhouse Structure Models Emphasize Crop Protecti…

Manufacturers of new structure models say they are responding to grower concerns with designs that focus on ventilation, maximizing your space, and incorporating a wide range of crops. Here’s a look at some of their latest offerings.

Read More
Brian Munchel

March 18, 2017

Brian Munchel of Ludy Greenhouse Manufacturing Dies at …

Munchel, a long-time member of the National Greenhouse Manufacturing Association, worked at Ludy Greenhouse Manufacturing for more than 30 years and was a computer-aided draftsman.

Read More
Nexus Atrium for Prides Corner

March 15, 2017

How Tech Suppliers Are Helping Growers Find Solutions

Greenhouse structures and components manufacturers highlight some of their most recent projects.

Read More

February 15, 2017

Growers Planning to Invest in Structures in 2017

Data from this year’s Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry survey indicates that growers are planning to make major investments in structures and facility upgrades this year.

Read More
NVAC Greenhouse prototype

February 15, 2017

New Greenhouse Cooling System in Development for Hot-Cl…

Researchers at McGill University in Quebec have developed an alternative evaporative cooling solution for greenhouses in warm climates, and are now seeking commercial partners.

Read More

February 15, 2017

Registration Open for NGMA Spring Meeting

The annual gathering of the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association will feature a look at green industry trends, emerging market opportunities, and more.

Read More
EFTE Film

January 18, 2017

Looking at Glass or Polyethylene for Your New Structure…

Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene, also known as EFTE, is a fluorine-based material that looks like a standard polyethylene greenhouse film but offers high light transmittance.

Read More
Nadia Sabeh, CEAC

January 18, 2017

Upcoming Seminars to Focus on Managing the Greenhouse E…

The seminars, which will also be accessible online, are presented by the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.

Read More

November 16, 2016

Stay Up To Date On Greenhouse Structures And Materials

eGro, an online resource for greenhouse growers, features a series of video lectures and tutorials on a wide variety of topics, including greenhouse structures and terminology, heating and cooling, and more.

Read More
Dual Atrium Greenhouse (Nexus)

October 12, 2016

Gibraltar Industries Acquires Nexus Corporation

The building manufacturer and distributor strengthens its position in the U.S. greenhouse market, complementing its RBI greenhouse company with the aquisition of Nexus Corp.

Read More
Gotham Greens Atrium Style Greenhouse Chicago

September 14, 2016

How An Energy Audit Of Your Greenhouse Can Save You Mon…

Is your greenhouse utility bill getting you down? Consider an energy audit to evaluate potential energy savings.

Read More
JGS Structure at Vineland

September 14, 2016

Take A Virtual Tour Of Canada’s Vineland Greenhouse Tec…

The one-of-a-kind research greenhouse project was completed by JGS Limited and features 40,000 square feet of horticultural research space.

Read More
Stuppy Greenhouse Manufacturing's Rainbow Super Structure

September 14, 2016

NGMA Contributes Revisions And Updates To Building Code…

The revisions cover the definition of a greenhouse, improved efficiencies in making greenhouse code changes, and more.

Read More
GrowSpan Light Deprivation Greenhouse

August 25, 2016

New Light Deprivation Greenhouses Help With Light Manag…

The GrowSpan light deprivation greenhouse from Growers Supply is outfitted with a blackout system that provides growers with control over the light cycle.

Read More
Cannabis Structure

August 23, 2016

5 Factors To Consider In Your Cannabis Structure

Along with the size and specs of your greenhouse, it's also important to focus on ventilation, light deprivation, benching, irrigation, and odor control.

Read More
Nexus Dual Atrium at Lucas Greenhouses

August 15, 2016

6 Ways Greenhouse Suppliers Are Partnering With Produce…

Greenhouse and equipment manufacturers share how they work with growers to provide customized solutions.

Read More