“For three decades, I have intently followed the developments in the glass industry from the bird’s eye view of Glass Performance Days (GPD). This internationally recognized event has given me the privilege of meeting the world’s leading experts in person and the opportunity to build one of the most comprehensive knowledge and know-how data networks in the glass industry,” says Jorma Vitkala, founder and former Chairman of GPD.
Although Vitkala retired in September 2020, he’ll start to work in November one or two days a week as a Senior Advisor through his own company supporting the GPD team who have assumed the everyday organization of the upcoming event. Vitkala is happy to welcome Marko Mökkönen to work with Brown Onduso in the task of ensuring the continuity of the event for years to come.
“Yes, I’ve retired – but my calling is still to nurture the GPD network that gives me tremendous professional and personal pleasure. For me, networking, know-how and supporting companies are the highlights of the entire glass business,” Vitkala says.
“I am happy to support Marko and Brown in maintaining GPD as the world’s leading glass event and in developing it for the future when it comes to networking and building the know-how of the glass industry,” Vitkala comments, while mentioning that GPD is currently adapting the event to fit the ‘new normal’.
After working for nearly 40 years in the glass industry and in more than 50 countries, making contacts worldwide since the beginning of his career, Vitkala feels that networking is the glue that keeps us all together and drives us forward into new opportunities and innovations.
GPD has evolved over the years to best meet the needs of the participants, focusing on current themes of importance. Without this constant evolution, the conference would never have become the must-attend event of the industry.
“I think in the future, most of the new innovations will come from outside the glass industry and must be supported so that glass can continue to be competitive with other materials,” he says.
When he tried to find training in the glass industry in the 1980s, it simply was not available. “So, I decided to organize it myself in the early 1990s with the establishment of the first GPD in 1992,” he says. Today, GPD has become the world’s leading glass industry event and the place to be for meetings, networking and new ideas to emerge.
“It wasn’t always easy. Not everyone shared the same vision for what GPD could become and how it could benefit companies to supporting them,” he says. “Thankfully, Glaston’s management always looked far enough into the future and supported GPD… they also could see the advantage of bringing 700 to 900 glass industry experts and architects to their factory for a special GPD evenings, hosting the group to a five or six course dinner in the middle of the production area.”
Today, Vitkala is a board member of several international committees and various companies that can take advantage of his extensive network. He is also the founder and a volunteer at the Glass Innovation Institute (GII) established 2014 – which is an independent non-profit organization promoting knowledge transfer to younger generations. The organization does not compete with GPD, but complements it as well as all other glass-related events by offering excellent networking opportunities with top speakers and specialists.
“I believe collaboration benefits all players – young and old. With my global network of more than 20,000 persons, we can bring together the whole supply chain to develop new ideas, give support to companies for product development, meetings, training and real cooperation – and propel the glass industry to new horizons,” Vitkala says.