; Our Story - Metrolina Greenhouses
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Our Story
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Growing beautiful plants is in our DNA.

Over the past 50 years since Metrolina Greenhouses was founded, our business has grown exponentially to become one of the largest and most innovative greenhouse operations in the world. But like most great success stories, Metrolina Greenhouses was built from humble beginnings. 

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Building the Foundation

Tom and Vickie VanWingerden came to the U.S. from the Netherlands in 1971 with $5000 and a dream of building their own 12-acre greenhouse business. And so began their legacy of building a family business rooted in flowers.  

In the spring of 1972, the VanWingerdens founded Metrolina Greenhouses by renting a 20,000-square-foot greenhouse in Huntersville, just north of Charlotte, North Carolina, but quickly found they needed more space to accommodate the rapidly growing business. The next spring, Tom and Vickie purchased an 83-acre tract of land on Huntersville-Concord Road and built the first greenhouse. That one-acre, plastic-covered structure flourished into the business that now encompasses two locations with more than 200 acres of greenhouses, nearly 300 acres of outdoor growing space and over 1,000 acres of land.

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Founders Tom and Vickie VanWingerden came to the U.S. from the Netherlands in 1971 with $5000 and a dream of building their own 12-acre greenhouse business.

After the untimely passing of Tom Van Wingerden in 2009, a loss felt and mourned throughout the company and the larger horticulture industry, the Van Wingerden family continues to build on Tom and Vickie’s original vision. The dreams our founders had for Metrolina Greenhouses remain front and center in our mission to lead our industry with sustainable operations and to provide the highest quality plants to our customers. 

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 now encompasses an expanded family numbering 800 year-round, full-time employees with the addition of 400 seasonal workers each year. 

Now Metrolina Greenhouses encompasses an expanded family numbering 800 year-round, full-time employees with the addition of 400 seasonal workers each year. We are dedicated to creating a world-class employee experience by developing excellent people who work with integrity and pride for what we all do together each day as one family, or as we call it, One Metrolina. 

Together, we proudly grow and ship more than 75 million plants annually to 1,400 retail outlets for Lowe’s Home Improvement, The Home Depot and Walmart in 19 states. In the past year, we have added a direct-to-consumer sales department where we hand-select plants from the greenhouse to fulfill online orders to consumers through our three main customers’ retail sites. This rapidly growing initiative allows us to ship plants to consumers in all 50 states. 

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We proudly grow and ship more than 75 million plants annually to 1,400 retail outlets for Lowe’s Home Improvement, The Home Depot and Walmart in 19 states.

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What’s our secret?

Several elements make up our formula for success:

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Nonstop Growth

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Serving Our Customers

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Constant Innovation

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Cultivating The Future

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Nonstop Growth

By 1982, Metrolina Greenhouses had already expanded to Tom and Vickie VanWingerden’s original goal of 12 acres. Expansion in Huntersville, NC, has come in phases, growing alongside our retail partners. The addition of MX greenhouses significantly increased our production capabilities. Our latest expansion brings the Huntersville location to over 200 acres of heated greenhouses and 60 acres of outdoor production space.  In 2013, we purchased Stacy’s Greenhouses in York, SC. This greatly expanded our growing space and allowed Metrolina to emerge as a leader in the industry by adding new product offerings, including perennials, shrubs and trees.  Our York location now spans 268 acres and includes indoor and outdoor growing spaces.

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Serving Our Customers

Today, Metrolina Greenhouses services more than 1,400 retail outlets in 19 states for three core customers: Lowe’s Home Improvement, The Home Depot and Walmart.  In the past year, Metrolina began fulfilling online orders through our retail customers’ websites. With this omnichannel marketing approach, we now ship plants directly to consumers’ homes in 50 states, in addition to selling in brick-and-mortar garden centers. Alongside our own growth, Metrolina Greenhouses has developed a network of 60 contract growers that add to our capacity to fulfill production needs. Our sister company, Plant Partners, is dedicated to merchandising our customers’ retail outlets to optimize sales.

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Constant Innovation

The efficiency we operate with today would not have been possible without our core belief in innovation and automation. One of co-founder Tom VanWingerden’s favorite sayings was “Automate or Stagnate,” a mantra that still drives Metrolina’s daily operations. But to us, automation isn’t about replacing jobs; rather, it’s an opportunity to invest in our people and reduce labor-intensive, repetitive work while enhancing their technical skills so they can continue to expand their careers.  Tom’s visionary influence as an engineer and the inventor of the automatic transplanter ultimately inspired an entire category of businesses within the allied horticultural trade, which continues to be widely impacted by Metrolina’s ongoing commitment to constant innovation.

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Cultivating The Future

Metrolina is committed to continuous improvement. Our research and development department has conducted product and plant trials for more than 40 years. Today, our experts evaluate more than 15,000 plant varieties annually, and they test new products to develop best practices and protocols. This analysis is crucial to Metrolina’s forward progress.  Gardening consumers are our ultimate customer and we are committed to understanding perceptions and buying behaviors. By gathering insights, our Home Garden Panel conducts research that informs Metrolina and our partners about purchasing habits and item preferences. This knowledge guides product development to meet gardeners’ needs while promoting their continued success and satisfaction.

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