In late April, a mix of a dozen or so Pagliacci managers from various departments gathered in Maple Valley to learn the art and craft of bonsai from Tony Fajarillo, a local master. After lessons in the basics, everyone began pruning their own tree under Tony’s tutelage. By the end of the day, everyone had a bonsai to take home. Jon Obrycki, our general manager at Columbia City, said, “This has been one of my favorite outings that I’ve done at Pagliacci.”
That’s high praise, especially since Jon has also gone with the company to Hawaii, New York, Tennessee, and Austin, Texas. “The bonsai experience was one of the many cool get-togethers I’ve gotten to do,” Jon says.
Did an afternoon of making bonsai really measure up to a week in Maui or Manhattan? “I’ve been with the company for nearly 14 years,” Jon says. “The reason I’ve been around as long as I have are the friends who are like family. We’ve grown together with the company.”
Maybe it was the careful pruning of a larger tree into something elemental and artistic, laughing with friends he’s worked with for years, those whose skill and devotion to quality and teamwork earned them management positions at Pagliacci, that somehow represented their shared journey.
Maybe that’s stretching it.
“During the pandemic, we lost that sense of togetherness and family,” Jon says. “It felt a forced separation. Bonsai was cool to learn. We had fun together. My wife is really into having a bonsai area in the garden of the house we bought a couple of years ago.”
Jon started at Pagliacci as a cook at our busy store on 85th in 2008. Nearly 14 years later, he’s the general manager of our Columbia City store. Under his leadership, the store, one of our newer locations, has become one of our busiest. One of his secrets: a happy crew. In a recent crew survey, 100 percent of his team said they’d recommend the job. “That’s where I get a lot of my job satisfaction,” Jon says. “They’re making good money, and I know I have a happy crew. When I need help, they’re willing to step up.”
Growing up, Jon wasn’t sure where he was heading. Skateboarding was the main passion, then art, something he still pursues. Jon’s pieces have elements of wood-burning, mixed media, and painting. He’s recently gotten offers to hang his art in a variety of places. When he started at Pagliacci, he thought it would be a two-year job while he figured things out.
View more of Jon's art on his Instagram page here.
“Going on 14 years, maybe I have figured it out,” Jon says. “Pagliacci feels like a giant family. We’re all a little weird. We have our quirks. There are a lot of artists at Pagliacci—music, photos, drawing—that’s a culture I’m involved in. We can all relate pretty well. There’s a sense of community. There’s a stronger bond at the individual stores, but as you move up within the ranks, you’ve worked at multiple locations, and you have friends and family at every store. The trips, and experiences like the Bonsai training, have tightened those relationships.”