Our People

Arie van der Houwenourpeople

Owner-operator, Director and Grower. Exception and Passion Fresh Limited.

Company founder Arie van der Houwen immigrated to New Zealand from Holland in 1997, bringing with him a wealth knowledge and education. He gained qualifications (that are recognised in NZ) from a leading Dutch Agricultural college, Horticultural school (including Amenity Turf Management -Floriculture) and has acquired much experience from working in the production houses of Europe from an early age.

He comes from a family of growers going back 5 generations whose expertise has been passed along from generation to generation (capsicum, flowers, grapes, tomatoes and cucumbers).
He spends time seeking out the best new varieties for the New Zealand market.
Arie is a “ hands on” company director who you will find regularly working in the glasshouses and packing shed. He simply gets stuck into the work that needs to be done!
Arie is married to Vivienne (daughter of GP-Dr Jack Fraser / a well known Auckland medical family). Vivienne helps Exception Limited out with various projects and applies her University of Auckland double major Chemistry and Psychology degree; extensive pharmaceutical, health media advertising; sales & marketing (including Honda and Mazda automotive sales) acumen to the business.
Arie likes to travel regularly to Holland to visit family and friends and keep up with international European trends. He has tried his hand at flying small planes from Ardmore and sailing on the Waitemata Harbour. When time allows in winter you’ll find him skiing down the slopes of Ruapehu or in summer somewhere tropical; scuba diving.
There are 15-20 Suffolk sheep on the property as well as two cute grey pussy cats.



Ben Winkelaar

Grower Manager Exception Ltd fam photo

Ben joined the company in November 2016 as a grower manager for 2ha of Telegraph cucumbers; and some Snack Cucs. As well as running Exception Ltd he has duties on the Passion Fresh site. This is on a duty-management level as required. 

Prior to joining Exception Ltd, Ben and his family were dairy farming for 10 years. This rural lifestyle suited their young family comprising of Marama (Ben's wife) and 4 children who loved the farming-life!

Paige the oldest; had a couple of horses and would help Ben to shift the cows. Janu the 2nd child; (being his daddy’s boy) could sit for hours on the tractor helping his dad doing cropping. The two younger girls Kiani and Zara enjoyed walking the cows and feeding the calves.

The family spent 8 years on a dairy farm in Whakamaru and nearly doubled the production!
Their contract ended when the farm was sold and they moved to just outside Rotorua milking 1000 to 2000 cows across two farms.
Before the farming-life, Ben was a flower grower in Franklin in the early 2000's.
Marama is a warm and talented medical receptionist and has a natural affinity for working with flowers on a commercial level too.

During 2016, Ben got into discussions with Arie regarding an opportunity to manage a growing site in Pukekohe which he decided to embrace.

Moving back into the Franklin area has enabled Ben to become a soccer coach and trainer, which Janu his young son lavishes. This move also brought more educational and sporting opportunities for the other children.

Ben has a passion for growing.
Like Arie; Ben is trying to reduce the company footprint. He is enthusiastic about the IPM program (integrated pest management) side of the business and the complexities of growing in glasshouses.