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Executive profile: Once is nothing

Jonathan Grassi, executive managing director at Grabo, chats about a lifetime with balloons, adapting to change and good intentions.


How long have you been at Grabo?

I have formally been in Grabo for seven years now, but my whole life I have been surrounded by balloons and by the party atmosphere.


What is your greatest achievement at the company?

The biggest achievement in Grabo has been to shift the perspective of the company working on what had been beautifully built during the first years of the company. From a quality product, made according to highest worldwide standards, we managed to create a brand new way of developing our vision, expanding our range, expanding our team, upping everyone’s game by leading key members of staff to new highs and finding key agreements throughout the world to strengthen our presence and brand.


Favourite part of your job?

The favourite part of my job has to be the first part of every project. The mix of adrenaline and uncertainty that paves the way to new projects is always fundamental. Constantly adapting to how the world changes is a key part of the life of a business, and in order to do so, one (or a company as a whole) must be prepared to go back into the field at all times.


Who is the unsung hero of the company?

Among all the unsung heroes who are a part of Grabo, and I could name quite a few good ones, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Stefano, our printing department manager, who has been with us for more than 25 years and has never let us down.

During the high growth period he was always reliable, he managed to educate a big number of people in a very short time and deliver a great job. His eye, his knowledge, his dedication are unparalleled in Grabo and we are grateful for his efforts every day.


What is the biggest change within the party industry that you have seen since you have worked in it?

The biggest changes in party must be both the two latest issues: plastic and helium supply. We all thought helium would have been back to normal in 2021 but two long years have gone by and the situation is not only not getting better, but actually it is getting tighter. It seems as if the exceptional situation we were preparing for is slowly starting to become an ordinary one.

And of course plastic. Finding a legal framework to deal with environmental issues and, at the same time, trying to maintain job occupancy and competitiveness on the market is no piece of cake. Yet, the horizon we walk towards gave us matters of urgency we need to cope with and resolve.

The objective of the business is to work effortlessly towards a goal that shares the aforementioned values. It is not a simple task, but as an industry we will find the most beneficial answer to, this I am sure.

The other big changes all relate to exogenous factors really, so the arrival of eShops, social media which have sped up trends and changed the consumer’s way of thinking. We don’t have much proactive margin on these factors, we can try and be as responsive as we can.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

1) The way to hell is paved with good intentions. This is an Italian saying I live by and it is self explanatory.

2) The other is German and it goes like: Einmal is Keinmal, meaning: everything that happens in life once has no reality, no depth, it doesn’t exist. This goes for anything: life, love, business. It is the consistency of events, of efforts, that transforms nothingness into being. Once is nothing: corollary is that dedication, attention and care creates the humus for everything.


Biggest lesson you’ve taken away from the last year?  

Gnothi seauton’, which literally translates into ‘know thyself’. Getting by in this world is all about knowledge and wisdom. And the deepest, darkest, fiercest challenge is to know oneself. By properly knowing oneself, one can learn how to know, understand and empathise with other people. So the lesson is first of all personal, and has only to do with oneself. And secondly it is functional, because it helps govern life in business and other problematic situations.


If you could change one thing about the party industry, what would it be and why?

There are so many things that would need changing. I really think we would need a two day seminar for this so I’ll just pass the question.


If you didn’t work in the party industry, what industry would you work in and why?

Like I do already, I produce wine in my winery Tenuta Gaiano and, in the remaining part of my time, I dedicate myself to journalism and editorial publishing through my company, Gog.


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