Christmas tree twinkles on the tip of a crane, a tree that looks so small against the vast sky that it could be a toy that my youngest son would put in his mouth. It’s snowing and -15 °C outside. I’m at the brand new shopping mall which has a railway station underneath, in a cafe actually, waiting for my train back to Oulu, you know, up north where Santa Claus and all his reindeers live.
I’m on my way back from RecoTech’s PropTech event in Helsinki. Me and eleven other CEOs were pitching to the Nordic PropTech Awards judges, and as it happened, GBuilder won and made it to the finals held in Denmark at the beginning of 2022. Scandinavia has always been extra important for us, as its construction culture is the most digitalised in the world. To be recognised this way makes it even more special. Feeling rather victorious I order some very hot glögi and piparkakku – traditional Finnish Christmas treats – and start to gather my thoughts on the many roads that took us here, and of course, the roads yet to travel.
Christmas lights are everywhere. Christmas jingles play everywhere. People are looking for Christmas presents, behind their light blue masks they look determined with their mission to find something perfect. Every railway station and every airport must be full of people like me who are going back home to be with their loved ones. The world keeps spinning as always. In two years nothing has changed, or maybe everything has.
Nostalgia comes as a collection of familiar things wrapped inside a beautiful dream. Tradition is just that, a celebration of our shared nostalgia. Sometimes even just one snowflake can do it. The taste of piparkakku. The sound that the reindeers make when they fly across the sky. Memories arise: a little boy with red apple cheeks, anxiously jumping on a sofa, long gone grandparents smiling mysteriously, my mother and father who appear to be so much younger than I am now.
Tradition, yes. And at the same time, I’m thinking about progress, how fast we are moving forward on this digitalised highway. People are holding their phones at every table around me, typing, talking, connecting. They are here, and at the same time, they are somewhere else. This is the Metaverse that Mr. Zuckerberg was talking about. It seems that we, as a human race, are about to inhabit the next planet, and we are already halfway there. The flow of information is everywhere, and without it everything would just stop: planes, trains and automobiles – even this music.
We have come a long way, my dear friends. And there is so much more to look for. Due to well-known reasons, this year has been hard for everyone. And yet, together, we’ve been able to accomplish great things! We completed a financing round in which 2 million euros in capital investments was raised from our investors, including our new investors Sustainable Future Ventures (part of PATRIZIA AG) and AMAVI Capital. New customers like Skanska, Lapti, ION, and Aldar, have joined forces with us. Our international sales team, product development, sales & marketing and production teams have all grown both in number and experience, and we have welcomed seventeen new employees this year!
So thanks to each and every one of you, old and new, I’m very proud of you all. Together we can conquer the world; and while we’re at it, lets’ take this spaceship where no man (or woman) has gone before! Co-ordination. Collaboration. Punctuality. This is where it’s at. Construction sites must keep their schedules and corporate performance targets, on that department nothing has changed and never will.
My train should soon be here. I’m looking out the window. A tall yellow crane is turning slowly across the darkening sky, the little Christmas tree on the tip of it is decorated with red lights and a silver star – it looks like a firefly on the fingertip of a giant. I don’t know who put it there, but I surely know why. Tradition and progress must go hand in hand. It is not just about the digital twin and the 3D BIM models. We are not just about building structures of concrete and steel. We are here to build better homes for the people we care for and love.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Stay safe, Harri