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Greenhouse Biz Flourishes With Bobcat Equipment

Fri November 24, 2006 - Southeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Located just north of Charlotte, near the town of Huntersville, N.C., is the world’s largest heated greenhouse at 4.4 million sq. ft. situated on 110 acres of land. Metrolina Greenhouses Inc. produces millions of colorful annuals that will eventually find their way to some of the nation’s largest retail stores.

Metrolina Greenhouses has been in business for 33 years, and for the last 20 years, the Van Wingerden family, which owns the greenhouse, has used Bobcat equipment to add more space to grow additional flowers.

“We do a lot of our own construction, and Bobcat equipment has been one of the tools that has helped us,” said Art Van Wingerden, general manager and one of six Van Wingerden family members employed at Metrolina Greenhouses. In addition to Art, three brothers and one sister work at the greenhouse: Abe, Michael and Thomas Van Wingerden and Helen Johnson, and brother-in-law Joey Karaffa.

Van Wingerden said the company uses its Bobcat compact loaders for construction applications to level the soil, dig ditches and fill them back in. The machines are an instrumental part of the company’s new construction endeavors as they work in tandem with larger equipment to move dirt and prepare the soil before new concrete is poured.

The company currently owns eight Bobcat compact loaders: four 753s and two 853 skid steer loaders; and two T250 compact track loaders, including a new K-Series model.

“When you are on the job for eight hours a day, you know the machine is going to be there for you,” Van Wingerden said. “You can do just about anything you need to on the Bobcat compact loaders with attachments. They are always there to back us up.”

Van Wingerden has owned Bobcat loaders for 20 years.

“We bought our first compact track loader five years ago and found it to be ideal for leveling dirt. The compact track machines do a good job of grading, leveling and carrying dirt without disturbing the surface.”

Bobcat of Charlotte provides Metrolina Greenhouses with excellent service, according to Van Wingerden.

“If we have a machine that needs to be serviced, the dealer is right there to give us a machine to use until ours is ready. They are always there to back us up.”

Family Prefers Utility Vehicles

The Van Wingerden family owns four Bobcat 2200 utility vehicles that are used daily at the sprawling greenhouse. Rather than driving pickup trucks, they use the utility vehicles to transport employees and supplies quickly and efficiently.

“We used to drive trucks everywhere, but you don’t want to start and stop a truck every time you need to get somewhere. When you get inside a pickup truck it’s hot. With a utility vehicle, you don’t have to worry about someone getting in a truck and letting it cool down while it sits. And you can’t drive pickup trucks everywhere. We can get our utility vehicles where we need them to go, even over rough ground.

“We bought our first Bobcat 2200 last year to try it, and within a week of buying one we bought a second one. It helps us because we can throw tools in the back of it and drive directly to the worksite.”

(This story was reprinted courtesy of “Bobcat Company and WorkSaver” magazine.)

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