Should we all forget glass and go into the potato business?

Conferences are always a good place to reflect on the industry development, see what other business areas are working on and network with people in the industry. Even during busy times, spending a couple of days at a good conference can bring business-changing results in the form of new business ideas and connections. The benefits can be just a simple idea or a statement. One statement I will never forget is:

“You should all go into the potato business – the glass business sucks!”

Before explaining more about the potato story, I want to share one of the most memorable speeches with you from the last GPD, Glass Performance Days 2013, in Finland.

At the opening ceremony, Mr. Scott Thomsen, then President of the Global Flat Glass Group for Guardian Industries Corp, gave a much talked about speech on the speed of the glass industry clock and the need to innovate faster. He emphasized that we are too concerned about competing inside our value chain, when we should instead be much more concentrated on how alternative building materials, such as concrete, are doing. He spoke about the window-to-wall ratio and the major impact this ratio has on the whole glass business. Wise words from Mr. Thomsen. If you didn’t get a chance to see his speech, I suggest you spend a half hour to take a look.

At that same conference, Mr. Bernard Savaete presented a stunning graph:

Glass price development

Glass price development

At first, this is even difficult to believe. How can this be possible? The graph shows us the miserable story of glass price development over the last 30 years. It shows how other building materials have been able to increase their price levels in a huge way in comparison to glass. Currently, we can see more ideas going on in the glass industry than ever. Smart glasses are coming to all applications, and as a result, I strongly believe we will get to the right curve, although we are a long way behind.

At one conference in 2014, Mr. Savaete showed the same graph and stated a clear message in a heavy voice to a room full of glass industry people: “You are in the wrong business! You should all go into the potato business! Potatoes are more valuable than glass.”

Should we? Or should we just start to work more with each other as an industry to develop new innovations together? As said, a lot is happening now in the glass industry with new vacuum insulation development, thin glass usage, coating development and much more. Major innovations are happening in the value chain interfaces. And this process all starts from networking.

GPD Finland is one forum where this development has leaped forward in the past. I encourage you to be part of this faster development in the glass industry and join us for GPD Finland 2015 this June. You can find more details and registration information about the conference from the GPD website. Mr. Bernard Savaete  will for sure challenge us again in his workshop: Key figures of the Flat Glass business.

Let’s forget the potatoes – and meet instead in Finland this summer!

The Glass Performance Days (GPD) is an independent forum dedicated to the development of the global glass industry through education. This is done by organizing conferences in different countries. Currently the conferences are organized in Finland, India and Brazil every two years and in China every year. In Finland, GPD also organizes Workshops and a glass exhibition.

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