Co-op Program with Drexel University

We are excited and proud to announce our 3rd Co-op program with Drexel University in Philadelphia, the program allows for Drexel students to be a part of a co-op program for a six-month period with an approved University employer. This week, our new co-op employee/students, Joseph McDermott and Matthew Murdock joined the team.

The Spearhead Group welcomed Joseph and Matthew into the R&D lab to work closely with Robert Catalano, Chief Innovation Officer and Co-founder. They will have the opportunity to participate in product development brainstorming, 3-D print new prototypes, design and laser cut multiple substrates, and provide real time innovative solutions from a fresh new perspective.

“I am looking forward to working with the members of the R&D department in innovating and developing the future of packaging in a truly unique company. A co-op position at The Spearhead Group enables me to challenge my education in engineering and discover new opportunities to improve in design.”

– Joseph McDermott

“I cannot begin to express how I appreciative I am for Spearhead to give me this opportunity. They truly have made me feel like I am an important member of this team immediately. It is extremely gratifying and exciting to know that your ideas matter and are being taken into consideration. I am eager to work here for the next six months and learn as much as I possibly can about countless new things.”

– Matthew Murdock

The Drexel co-op isn’t the first program that The Spearhead Group has worked on with innovative students at global universities. Over the last few years, The Spearhead Group has had the opportunity to sponsor several programs at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) Turin and Ibero University in Mexico City.

“Students provide a new perspective in innovation and our team looks forward to being at the forefront with them. We are excited to not only provide Joseph and Matthew with an opportunity now, but to help open doors for what they can pursue in the future” said Luis Carlos Vega, R&D Team Leader at The Spearhead Group.

 

 

Spearhead Project Earth

The Spearhead Group is pleased to announce the launch of “Project Earth”. Our team launched an initiative which includes a series of shoreline cleanups and an educational program as a part of our commitment to restore and protect Burlington Island and the Delaware River for us and future generations. Burlington Island is a 300-acre river island with an artificial lake called Burlington Island Lake which is situated on the Delaware River and belongs to the City of Burlington and to the Board of Island Managers.

The island’s first inhabitants were the Lenapehoking People, and its original name was Matennecunk island, which means Island of Pines. In the 17th century, the first European settlement was established on the island and on 1682 Burlington City was given the title to the island.

Although the island has not been inhabited since the 1970s, its shores are affected by human activity in an indirect and constant way. Trash floating in the river, especially plastic waste, gets trapped in the island shores, polluting this beautiful natural area, and creating a risk of releasing micro-plastics into our rivers which lead to the oceans.

When Robert Catalano, Chief Innovation Officer and Co-founder at The Spearhead Group first came across Burlington Island, which is located close to our main office in Yardley, Pennsylvania, he saw an opportunity to give back to the local communities and put our core values into action.

Patricia Burguete, Head of Global Sustainability Strategies said “our pilot cleanup was a great opportunity to see firsthand how human actions, or lack of action, can turn useful – even valuable – items into harmful trash. Every time we have a single use plastic in our hands, we can decide whether it becomes something that can be reused, properly recycled, or just thrown away, with the potential of becoming harmful to the environment.”  The Spearhead Group plans to use what we have learned in this first event to plan for ongoing clean-up and educational activities on Burlington Island.

This program was made possible thanks to the support of Burlington citizens and members of the Board of Island Managers, particularly Karen Robbins, Joe Abate, David Babula, and Angela Wenger. We had the privilege of having a Cherokee Medicine Man give an American Indian blessing to our project, accompanied by two others, in representation of the Native Americans who were the original dwellers of Matennecunk Island.

The Spearhead Group is excited about the possibilities that Project Earth can bring. These activities allow us to not just focus on sustainability, but to become engaged and set up an example of doing the right thing for our planet. Stay tuned for updates and information about how you can help preserve Burlington Island and check out our video!

 

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Let’s Talk About Carbon

Carbon is talked about more and more lately, especially in the context of sustainability. I have noticed that, while many people use the term carbon (or carbon neutral, carbon positive, carbon offset, carbon credit, carbon footprint, etc.), not many understand what it means. In this instance, carbon usually refers to carbon dioxide which is a combination of carbon and oxygen atoms.

Carbon is a chemical element that is abundant in nature. Carbon compounds or, carbon attached to other elements, are found in an incredible number of things including coal, petroleum, plant and animal tissues.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a naturally occurring carbon compound that is essential for life. Present in the air and water, plants and algae feed on carbon to create new carbon compounds, including more CO2. It’s one of the most essential life cycles!

After the industrial revolution, man-made processes began to release CO2 into the environment at a faster pace than it could be naturally absorbed back by nature. With an unprecedented amount lingering in our atmosphere, this has created a timing issue for the reabsorption. Even if we could halt all carbon dioxide emissions right now, the Earth would need years to reset to natural levels.

This is why it is so urgent to act and reduce or offset, CO2 emissions now. Governments, industries, and individuals all need to be committed to understanding this process and doing their part to reduce COin the atmosphere. Each of us at The Spearhead Group are committed to being mindful and reducing the environmental impact of the products we offer. We pledge to partner with like-minded suppliers and manufacturers to keep improving our sustainability practices, project by project.

Spearhead Welcomes Accurate Box Company to Pioneer Program

We are proud to announce the latest edition to our Spearhead Pioneer ProgramAccurate Box Company.

The Spearhead Group Pioneer Program was created to highlight partnerships with exclusive suppliers that are experts and innovators in their field. Our Spearhead Pioneers deliver seamless solutions that clients won’t find anywhere else.

Accurate Box Company embodies Spearhead’s core values with a shared focus on sustainability and diversity. The Accurate team is a certified women-owned company and has won recognition for their support of women in business. For 78 years, the team at Accurate has delivered incredible solutions for spirits brands all over the world, earning a reputation for quality and innovation. A wonderful addition to our Pioneer Program, Accurate Box Company will open up new opportunities for Physical Brand Enhancements™ to all our partners.

Raymond DeCarlo, Head of Domestic Sourcing & Pioneer Relations sums up our enthusiasm: “Our Spearhead Pioneers are an extension of The Spearhead Group family, and we are so glad to welcome Accurate Box into the program. I look forward to interacting with this innovative partner to help build quality relationships and grow together.”

“Accurate Box has been a woman-owned company since I became president and CEO in 1998. From that date on, we have been looking for other innovative, woman-owned companies to join forces with. We are delighted to partner with Heather and The Spearhead Group in our effort to bring value, expertise, and innovation to our collective customers. The whole company is eager to watch this partnership grow!” –Lisa Hirsh, Accurate Box Company

Innovation Showcase at the 2022 DISCUS Conference

The Spearhead Group is a proud member of The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

The 2022 DISCUS conference in New Orleans will focus on America’s spirits industry and the theme “Stronger Together.” With leading distillery experts, trade professionals, and industry stakeholders presenting, attendees have the opportunity to share ideas and initiate innovation. For the second year, The Spearhead Group is proud to sponsor the Innovation Showcase, where six finalists will present their creative innovations in packaging, technology, sustainability, product development and more!

Check out the bios of the Six Finalists below on behalf of DISCUS and read more on their website.

Bacardi North America     

Bacardi’s vision is to be the world’s leading premium spirits house, loved for its iconic brands, that bring people together for exceptional drinks’ experiences. Bacardi cares about the impact of what they do, not just today but for the next century. In fiscal year 2022, to support their global Good Spirited strategy, they are leading the development and execution of new secondary packaging for NAM brands and customers to eliminate almost 80 tons of plastic in nearly 1.5 million pieces of packaging!

Endless West   

Endless West is a beverage technology startup that uses innovative methods in molecular science to create its own blend of spirits. Through the use of their technology, Endless West is able to produce spirits with lower impact on the natural resources used to make spirits in the traditional methods. The resource-efficient process allowed them to produce Glyph, a molecular spirit inspired by whiskey, with 94 percent less water and 92 percent less agricultural land use in comparison to traditional whiskey-making processes.

Polytechnic University of Francisco I Madero (UPFIM)

Polytechnic University of Francisco I. Madero is a higher-education institution that develops research for sustainable innovation about semi-desert resources and biodiversity in Hidalgo, Mexico. UPFIM has developed a process to distill beverage alcohol based on mesquite pods and the respective aging process using the seed’s hard coat to get a delicate, unique and extraordinary spirit from the semidesert.

SoMax Circular Solutions 

SoMax Circular Solutions is a resource recovery and carbon management company that converts liabilities into assets. By implementing their resource recover platform, distilleries can convert byproducts into renewable energy or carbon sinks that lower greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, and save distilleries money by eliminating disposal costs and extended byproduct supply chains.

Two Trees Distilling

Two Trees Beverage Co. Inc. helps bring premium, sustainably matured products to the market in the spirits, beer, wine and ready-to-drink (RTD) categories. Sustainable maturation can reduce deforestation and CO2 emissions, improve the environment, mitigate climate change, solve supply chain issues, positively impact your bottom line, future proof your business and uncover a world of premium wood-crafted innovations.

Tapi Group

Tapi Group Ikigai – Sowing Life brings to the sake market a fresh and trendy proposal with three unique infusions: pear, peach and lychee. Its innovative packaging concept revolves around the word that gives name to the brand “Ikigai,” which translates from Japanese as “finding purpose in life.” With the purpose of being an enabler of life and joy to its consumers after the products first life cycle has ended, and through the rebirth of the same fruit that once infused Ikigai, it can then be used to spice or infuse upcoming creations while building an everlasting circle of life.

 

Circularity 22

The Spearhead Group is always on the lookout for tools to help foster a deeper understanding of sustainability requirements and solutions. Our team values the opportunity to learn and network with professionals who share our passion for sustainability in business. Head of Global Sustainability Strategies, Patricia Burguete, attended the recent Circularity 22 convention hosted by GreenBiz to explore this topic with global sustainability leaders. She made it her mission to understand how we can keep the circular economy in mind as we practice our core values of innovation and sustainability.

Circularity 22 is the largest convention in the US focused on the circular economy. The 3-day event included keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and trainings. The convention also hosted networking opportunities between thought leaders and a solutions expo for industry professionals. Patricia gained invaluable learnings on the benefits of recycled and recyclable materials, as well as reusable packaging, and how to plan for sustainable success.

Patricia also had the opportunity to meet with some inspiring organizations such as the Ellen McArthur FoundationWWFSustainable Forestry InitiativeProduct Stewardship InstituteThe Recycling PartnershipGreenpeaceWBCSD (World Buss. Council for Sustainable Development), Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation InstituteGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAmazonWestrockSustana FiberIron MountainMacy’sShaw Industries, ALPLANovelis, just a few of the businesses in the United States that truly lead by example.

 

Here’s what Patricia had to say about her time at Circularity 22: “This past week confirmed what an exciting and important challenge my role brings. It brought to light how vital design and innovation will be to deliver circular and sustainable packaging to our clients.”

Spearhead Family: Jennifer Deutsch, Office Assistant

The Spearhead Family is expanding! Jennifer Deutsch is our newest employee and will serve as Office Assistant for The Spearhead Group. Here’s what she shared with us:

Tell us about joining The Spearhead Group. What made you excited to join the team?

Joining a company at a time when they are expanding is always exciting. The Spearhead Group is not only dedicated to customer satisfaction, but also focuses on employee growth and happiness. It is clear to me that this is a special place to be.

Tell us a little more about your background and what excites/inspires you? 

Before joining Spearhead, I had a career in Production and Quality Control for footwear and accessories. In my former position, I was fortunate to travel to Asia and gained hands-on factory experience to understand the whole manufacturing process. It’s inspiring to see a project evolve from an initial idea to a final conceptualized product and know that I played a role.

The Spearhead Group has 5 core values (1. Focus on Sustainability and Diversity; 2. Innovative Thinking; 3. Do the Right Thing; 4. Acts with Equal Respect for Clients, Colleagues and Suppliers; 5. Go the Extra Mile with Entrepreneurial Spirit). How do you practice these values?

I thrive on community involvement in my personal life. I work closely with the local VFW on an “Adopt a Veteran” program each holiday season. My task is to increase the number of families that get matched with a veteran. My family has adopted the same veteran for the past 2 years and we have a lovely friendship. The Spearhead Group has embraced this passion and has adopted three veteran families while also supporting food and clothing drives for the organization. I feel very fortunate to have found a company with values that so closely match my own personal vision.

Earth Day 2022

Sustainability and diversity are what we value most at The Spearhead Group. On this Earth Day 2022, we want to share a call to action: Climate Change is a serious issue and there are positive actions we can take. Currently, CO2 emissions into our atmosphere are rapidly outpacing efforts to cut back. Carbon is a long-term pollutant that stays in the atmosphere much longer than other emissions. Sadly, 40% of CO2 emitted 100 years ago is still in our atmosphere today.

Here’s a visual to consider from the recent

SPC Conference. Picture the Earth’s atmosphere like a bathtub, where the running taps represent CO2 emissions, and the open drain is the natural flow through the Earth. The tub is filling faster than it drains, causing it to overflow. We experience this overflow as Climate Change, a negative state that impacts us all.

 

There is no one solution, rather many. Here’s what the science and data tell us:

  • Recycle More – consumers need more information about the rules of recycling; municipalities need to get behind this; and we need to replace packaging that is not fully recyclable (due to the design and substrates used) or properly marked for recycling (i.e., PET windows on cartons that need to be removed before recycling). It’s confusing to consumers, and we can do better. Let’s design packaging with recycling in mind.
  • Reduce Food Waste – Americans waste 63 million tons of food a year!  85% of that waste comes from retail businesses and homes.  Here’s why this matters: food waste consumes 21% of all drinking water, 19% of all fertilizer, 18% of cropland and 21% of landfill volume. There are many studies and efforts to try and curb this, but consumer behavior needs to change. We all play a role here!
  • Design for Material Efficiency – Let’s commit to reducing the volume of corporate packaging, so less ends up downstream. Packaging design should be as minimalist as possible, enough to attract consumers without adding to waste and landfills.
  • Remove CO2 from the Atmosphere – Yes, this can be done! Scientists are actively exploring new technologies to remove CO2 from our atmosphere. This would assist the earth’s natural carbon cycle and there is still a lot of research pending, but it is one part of the Climate Change solution.
  • Increase Renewable Energy – Choices matter: choose suppliers that utilize renewable energy to power their operations.
  • Reduce Fossil Carbon Use – this goes together with actively choosing renewable energy solutions.
  • Use Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) – if long-term climate targets are to be met, large quantities of CO2 will need to be removed from the atmosphere and stored on a permanent or long-term basis. NETs are a broad range of strategies, designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere once it has already been released. These approaches either have not yet been tested in practice or are not ready for deployment on the scale that would be required to affect the climate. Negative Emission Technologies would remove CO2 permanently from the earth’s natural cycle. In order to truly see successful results from NETs, we first need to decrease our overall carbon emissions by ending our use of and dependence on fossil fuels.

We have a Climate Change crisis. Nobody can solve it alone and there is no one solution. Remember the original Earth Day tagline? Think globally, act locally. Together we can make a difference.

¡Bien Hecho en Mexico! Meet Patricia Burguete, Head Go-Getter, The Spearhead Group Mexico

Patricia Burguete owns and operates The Spearhead Group Mexico. Established in 2020, it’s the first independently owned operation for The Spearhead Group in North America. In honor of Women’s History Month, Patricia recently shared her insights as a female business owner with our very own Lana Toler, Marketing & Innovations Manager.

How did you get started in design and packaging?

I studied as an architect in Mexico, and like many in my profession was immersed in design and project management from day one. I was often the only woman at the table and learned to appreciate companies like Spearhead that treat women as true partners and equals.

Mexico is well-known for craftsmanship and artisanal design. How does that inspire you?

I have always loved artisanal work. My family is originally from Chiapas in the south and as a child I grew up appreciating handmade things, like the embroidery of our region. I developed a lifelong love for artisanal clothing (and many other things!) from my grandmother. Craftspeople don’t always get the credit they deserve. About 12 years ago I started working with floral and gift shops, developing corporate gifting programs with local artisans. A lot of the people who do the finest work in my culture are women, and I really respect their daring approach and tremendous skill. This also extends to our beverage sector; there are there are so many Maestras Mezcaleras (our term for female master mezcal makers). It’s exciting to see women represented in many creative paths.

How did you become the head of The Spearhead Mexico?

My official title is Managing and Creative Director of Spearhead Mexico, but I prefer “Head Go-Getter!” My experience in corporate design led me to develop manufacturing and technology partnerships throughout Mexico and beyond, which is how I first connected with the Spearhead team. I was immediately drawn to their values of equality, inclusion, and sustainability. When creating my business entity, I had to send several name combinations for the Mexican authorities to choose from. They decided on Spearhead Innovación Responsable de México for our legal name, which I absolutely love. It perfectly reflects our core values of innovation and responsibility as we aim to focus on creating sustainable solutions and caring for the world around us. Working with the Spearhead team has allowed me to feel more empowered as a woman business owner. We’ve really earned our seat at the table!

What do you most look forward to in 2022?

One of the things that most excites me is to promote things that are made in Mexico – and to promote the work of Mexican people in other countries. There are a lot of manufacturers who do things well here – and who take great pride in every step from design to manufacturing. Clients are particularly excited about our sustainable integration solutions. I love to promote the best of Mexico. In Spanish we say “Bien Hecho en Mexico” meaning, “Well Made in Mexico.” The items we manufacture reflect the Spearhead commitment to promoting sustainable solutions while upholding the quality we all know and expect to see. Everything is on track for a great year – and we’re on the move! I recently finalized the contract for a larger space in Mexico City and look forward to keep growing our team inspired by Spearhead values.

 

 

All the Latest in Physical Brand Enhancements™ – Custom Glass Bottles!

While many know The Spearhead Group for high profile programs like the Crown Royal bags, our company does so much more.  We have revolutionized the packaging industry by coining an expanse of the manufacturing process which we call Physical Brand Enhancements™ (read more about PBE™).  PBE™ is exactly what the name implieswe embrace a brand’s image and boost it to the highest potential through customized packaging. While that includes bags, it also can encompass an array of brand needs. We have some incredible clients who have trusted us to enhance items such as custom glass and ceramic bottles, closures, medallions, new-to-world labels, cartons, wood boxes, rigid boxes, shippers, end-to-end VAPs (including automated carton assembly), and more. The possibilities are endless with PBE™. 

In this series, we explore the potential of PBE™, starting with glass bottle development. 

At the conception of a glass bottle program, the Spearhead team takes time to fully understand a brand’s goals and visions for their product. From there, we have our design experts curate visual renderings that best represent these goals or review client renderings that have already been proposed. These steps are vital to create an accurate representation of production, lead time, and budget feasibility.

The designing and development of new glass bottles then progresses to Spearhead’s in-house 3D printing lab. We produce a printed sample of the model and work with clients on glass sample tooling.   Under the direction of Spearhead’s expert team, these launch steps take days, instead of months for most of our projects.

As soon as models and materials have been approved, our Spearhead team once again reviews client needs to determine the most efficient course of action for production. For glass bottles, Spearhead works with various partners in Mexico, India and China. The final determination of which glass partner we select is based on which partner has the exact bottling line logistics needed to ensure a flawless execution of the brand’s bottle design.

The Spearhead Group is so fortunate to have a team of brilliant designers, skilled engineers and Innovation Labs across the world (read more about our Spearhead Innovation Lab) that ensure timely and precise completion of projects.

Here’s what our founder and CEO, Robert Catalano, has to say about glass bottle enhancements:

“The inception of the glass bottle is one of the most exciting projects that we get to work on for our clients. Bottles are often the foundation of a brand and are vital to recognition in the market. We are given the opportunity to start with a blank canvas and end with physically manifesting the brand’s identity. It is so cool to see how quickly we are able to move from visual renderings to 3D printed bottle samples that everyone can touch and feel. Having these in hand immediately brings to life all design intentions and creates a fantastic process for achieving the brand vision. Going from a 3D printed sample to the first glass sample is one of my favorite steps. It truly is the physical manifestation of an idea and I love to see our clients hold it in their hands for the first time. It just drives it all home.”

 

If you would like to realize your dream of designing custom-made glass bottles, come talk to us at The Spearhead Group.  Contact Lana Toler at lanat@thespearheadgroup.com.

Welcome to The Spearhead Group Blog

The Spearhead Group provides Physical Brand Enhancements to clients in the spirits, beauty and personal care industries. Headquartered in Yardley, PA midway between New York City and Philadelphia, The Spearhead Group offers companies a modern, full-service, consultative approach from concept to reality.

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