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Innovative greenhouse industry suppliers experience rapid growth

Karsten Metal joins Vollebregt's Cravo

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

BRANTFORD, Ontario - Volco Inc., the parent company of Canada's largest manufacturer of retractable roof greenhouses Cravo Equipment Ltd., has purchased another supplier of the greenhouse and nursery industries, cart and rack systems manufacturer Karsten Metal Inc. Cravo and Karsten each have about 100 employees.

Karsten co-founder Ko Tamminga who launched the company in 1986, will remain with the firm. Originally set up in a small garage to build trailers for cars, Tamminga soon was manufacturing carts for area greenhouse growers. Since he and his partner delivered 300 units that first Spring, they never looked back. Karsten has grown into a new building of about 26,000 square feet and supplies the industry throughout North America.

Cravo has a similar history although it went into business seven years earlier than Karsten. It manufactured curtain systems for the greenhouse industry. The Vollebregt family who owns Cravo, added a greenhouse line which incorporated its curtain technology. That move radically changed the business, prompting five expansion projects in five years which resulted in a 60,000 square feet manufacturing facility while tripling its number of employees.

Company president Richard Vollebregt calls the two firms a good match and expects steadier employment opportunities in the factories. Both firms have seasonal peaks, but not at the same time. Vollebregt recently added an outside management team although he and his brother Paul keep key positions. Their father John who started the business, watches from the sidelines ready to offer advice when requested.