Spearhead Family: Kyle Keaveney, Assistant Product Development Manager

For our Spearhead Family post this month we are highlighting the newest Spearhead Group team member, Kyle Keaveney, Assistant Product Development Manager. Kyle joined Spearhead in this January and shares more below about his excitement to be a part of the team and work on product development.

Tell us about joining The Spearhead Group. What makes you excited to join the team?
Kyle: There are several things that excited me about the opportunity to join The Spearhead Group. First was the rate of growth, since Spearhead was founded in 2018 the company has grown at an exponential rate and is quickly becoming a leader in the world of packaging innovations. Secondly, despite the rate of growth, the group has held tight to its core values of client satisfaction and respect. As an employee looking for a long-term opportunity these are things that were very important to me, a growing company with strong corporate values. I am very excited to learn, assist and contribute to Spearhead on its journey forward.

Tell us a little more about your background and what excites/inspires you to work on product development?
I graduated from Kutztown University in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a focus on policy and procedure. It was during my time at school that I began to thoroughly enjoy the application of policy in society and seeing the impact it has on people’s daily lives. This interest is what led me to my first job opportunity in the compliance field. My first professional role was as a Compliance Manager for a facility services organization, Fleetwash Inc., where I learned operational compliance with a focus on safety. I learned a lot through this position such as collecting data and formulating reports to be sent to the investors. But perhaps the most important thing that I took away from this position was the implementation of compliance at a hands-on level with crews on jobsites, and the actual application of the corporate regulations. This became abundantly clear during the height of the global pandemic. Some of my most valuable experiences at Fleetwash Inc. were on New Jersey Transit sanitization jobs when I was collecting bacteria samples pre and post treatment recording data of how effective the process was.

I then took a position with at Bed Bath and Beyond where I practiced corporate compliance and gained experience in product Quality Assurance, Quality Control, and enforcing safety requirements for a wide variety of products in the hardlines category with a focus on kitchenware (dishes and kitchen appliances) and furniture. That role provided me with valuable exposure to large corporation compliance and methodology. It is my prior experience with policy, safety and compliance that have led me to this new opportunity in product development at Spearhead. My goal now is to build on some of my product safety & compliance experience, and to learn and grow into the challenging field of product development.  I am very excited about this opportunity Spearhead has afforded me, to help manage and develop products from design through delivery.

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?
The 5 core values of Spearhead is what sets us apart from our competitors making us a business model that is truly one of a kind.

  • Focus on Sustainability and Diversity:   I love the outdoors and hobbies such as biking, fishing, and camping are a few of my favorites. As such corporate sustainability is personally very important to me. Our environment is an extremely delicate resource and creating and practicing a sustainable business model allows me to know that my work is helping provide a better life for generations to come. Creating a diverse workplace is something all leading global companies are striving for. Diverse companies like Spearhead provide opportunities for people of all different backgrounds and perspectives to work collaboratively towards a common goal.
  • Innovative Thinking: A company that fails to innovate and think forward will fail as a company. Product development will provide me with the platform to demonstrate innovative thinking which is crucial to sustaining business growth in an ever-changing market. A recent example at Spearhead is the adding of a test lab to our headquarters when turnaround times for test lines in the industry are at an international standstill due to the global pandemic.
  • Doing the right thing: Doing the right thing may not always be the easiest thing to do, but clearly it is the most important thing. It’s who we are as people, always acting with integrity, and who we are as a company. At Spearhead this spans from ensuring we develop the highest quality sustainable products, being transparent and communicating throughout the process, to delivering the highest quality products and services to customers.
  • Acts with Equal Respect for Clients, Colleagues and Suppliers: This value is incredibly important, as respect for all goes hand and hand in business. Treat others as you want to be treated. Being respectful to others is something that each person needs to feel valued and appreciated, whether it’s being respectful of someone’s background, point of view, decision, time or experiences.
  • Go the Extra Mile with Entrepreneurial Spirit: Spearhead was founded because of an entrepreneurial spirit and is demonstrated in our offices every day. Going the extra mile ensures that our clients are completely satisfied with the process and final product. By using the same entrepreneurial spirit that Spearhead was founded on I intend to develop relationships with each of the projects that I work on to take accountability and great pride in our products and services.

Giving Back: Robert Catalano, CINO/Co-founder Shares His Personal Causes

With the start of November, we all start thinking about the causes close to us that we would like to give back to. We reached out to Robert Catalano, CINO/Co-founder, about his  personal causes. Read below to learn more about our conversation with Robert and let us know about your personal causes.

What volunteer organizations are you involved with or have deep meaning to you?
SCORE, an organization that provides a wide range of services to established and budding business owners alike, is one that I am proud to be a part of. SCORE is a network of volunteer, expert business mentors,  dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. They provide continued advice and support.

Additionally, The Spearhead Group has  created and sponsored programs with global universities that specialize in design and engineering to provide PVC Rods that can be utilized for a larger community benefit.

What’s your volunteer style? Are you the person who ends up helping at the event or the project organizer?
I’m a project organizer.

Why do you choose to give back?
I give back because I know how hard things can be without someone or a support system to help and offer advice.

What excites you about starting The Spearhead Group Give-Back Program?
As a company, it is important to look outside of your own corporate bubble, with our teams’ skills and talent, I see a lot of good that we can put out in our communities. Giving back feels good and it really is a great motivator.

We’re Proud to Announce Our New Co-Op Program with Drexel University: Introducing Christian Flores

We are excited to announce our new Co-Op program with Drexel University in Philadelphia. “Cooperative education at Drexel enables undergraduate students to balance classroom theory with practical, hands-on experience prior to graduation.” This 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 fall, we welcomed our first co-op employee/student, Christian Flores. Christian is studying at Drexel to obtain a Bachelors in Business and Engineering. Unlike most internships, Christian is getting a full hands-on experience right from the start. The Spearhead team welcomed Christian into the R&D lab to work closely with Robert Catalano, Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer. Since joining just a few weeks ago, Christian has had the opportunity to participate in product development brainstorming, 3D print multiple new prototypes, design and laser cut multiple substrates and provide real time innovative solutions, all from a passionate and fresh new perspective.

“This Co-op position is very meaningful to me because The Spearhead Group gave me the opportunity to challenge my mind to think in new innovative ways,” expressed Christian. “I’m learning hands on about the R&D process and what it’s like to see a product through its development. Every day I spend at The Spearhead Group is another day spent gaining valuable skills, building connections, and putting my creativity to the test. I couldn’t be more excited to see what challenges and new experiences these next couple of months have to offer me. I’m confident that by the time the end of my co-op cycle ends I will have a work experience that will prove to be very useful in my future career.”

“This dynamic program is one that we wish that we had started years ago,” said Robert. “Christian is an extremely fast learner and has already advanced several of our R&D projects ahead of schedule. He is also bringing a lot of his own ideas to the team and we are keen on giving him more and more leeway to expand on some of his own R&D concepts.”

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 programs at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) Turin and Ibero University in Mexico City. Robert and The Spearhead Group are interested in expanding their programs with Drexel to include 2 co-op students next spring. In addition, they are hoping to sponsor programs similar to IED and Ibero for other universities over the next year.

“Students provide a new perspective in innovation and The Spearhead Group looks forward to being at the forefront with them,” said Jessica Knee, Business Administration Manager at The Spearhead Group. “We are excited to not only provide these students with an opportunity now, but to also open doors for what they can pursue in the future.”

The Spearhead Group Wins Diageo “Special Project Champion Award”

We are so proud to announce that The Spearhead Group has won the “Special Project Champion Award” from Diageo. Each year, Diageo holds an award ceremony to recognize its suppliers. Diageo works with thousands of talented suppliers, and only a small pool are nominated. “Winning the Special Project Champion Award is an accomplishment shared by every member of our team. This award acknowledges all the heart and soul that we put into every project, and speaks to the true partnership between Diageo and their suppliers,” says Heather Fritzsche, CEO and Co-Founder of The Spearhead Group, Inc. Spearhead was also nominated for the 2021 Supplier of the Year Award; this is the second year the team has been nominated for this award.

The Diageo “Special Project Champion Award” is given to partners that have made a substantial, positive impact on one or more Diageo brands or critical projects, and demonstrated leadership by initiating and propelling new and creative project ideas on time, on budget, and through proactive risk and opportunity identification. CONGRATS TO THE SPEARHEAD TEAM!

Perry Jones, President of North America Supply, Diageo NA shares more about the awards on the website. Click here to read more: https://www.diageo.com/en/news-and-media/features/diageo-north-america-honors-top-performing-partners-at-11th-annual-supplier-awards/

Celebration of Distilleries for Bourbon Heritage Month

I have been in the spirits business for over 20 years, and distillery tours are still such an adventure!  The transformation from my early visits to now in 2021 are experiential!  In the early 2000’s there were a few distillery tours, but the tours were basically here is the mash, the still, and there it goes in a barrel.  The idea of experiential distillery tours has been on an upward trajectory and I am surprised every time by the ingenuity of the how distilleries are now talking about the process and all of the unique features that distillers can bring to their liquids.  It isn’t just about seeing the process of distillation, but learning about the grains (and Heirloom grains people are now distilling with… heard of Bloody Butcher and Blue Corn used for distillation of bourbon??).  The industry has taken the fun experience of seeing distillation to almost a ‘Disney World’ adventure into spirits making.  The connections to the land, the grains, the water (water is a major component of bourbon!), and then the artisanal approach to grain bills is impressive.  Another art & science to the bourbon category is blending of bourbons to create new and unique blends that haven’t been on the market yet.  I am definitely in awe of the legacy and heritage of bourbon, but I am down-right nerdy about the art & science of it all.  Consumers are not only allowed and encouraged to try various bourbons, but they are now becoming more informed on why the aroma and flavor are unique through the immersive experience provided by distilleries!  If you haven’t been to a bourbon (or other spirit) distillery I encourage you to make a reservation and check out the new revolution of experiences.  Below I have included a list of distilleries that I think are representative of old school and new school approaches to making America’s Spirit!

5 Bourbon Distilleries We Love

  1. Maker’s Mark
  2. Rabbit Hole
  3. Peerless
  4. Bardstown Bourbon Company
  5. Evan Williams

Understanding Green & Blue Beauty

Green beauty has been a buzz word for quite some time, centered on products that are environmentally and socially sustainable. In the last few years, new subsection of green beauty has been gaining attention and coming to the spotlight – Blue Beauty. Blue beauty, which you may be able to predict, focuses on the protection of our oceans and everything in them. Much like green beauty, a large focus of blue beauty is the handling and use of plastic in products. The blue beauty label or callout on a product means it uses safe, sustainably sourced ingredients, as well as ocean-safe ingredients, with reused, recyclable, or refillable packaging.

Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s. About 60% of that plastic has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment. If current trends continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050. (1) Solutions to these problems not only include limiting the plastic waste that is adding to these totals, but also finding better management processes for dealing with the waste that is already out there.

A small and large scale example of companies taking action are One Ocean Beauty and Shiseido with their Blue Project. One Ocean Beauty is a brand formulated with zero waste packaging and sustainable ingredients using “blue biotechnology” which allows the preservation of the ocean’s biodiversity. Shiseido as a large corporation has partnered with WeAreOneOcean working to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030. Here at The Spearhead Group, a core value is to focus on sustainability, which can be seen in some product innovations with reduction and elimination of plastic in certain packaging options. All of these companies together are helping to tackle the bigger problems with their own unique solutions.

Education is a great first step to problem solving for both companies and individuals. Investigate your favorite brands and products to see if the packaging is recyclable, and how you can ensure the components are properly recycled. Read up on your favorite products to see if there is transparency on the supply chain for ingredients. Of course, once you have completed your research, actively choose to shop those brands that you feel support the movement to protect both our land and oceans.

(1). https://www.unep.org/interactive/beat-plastic-pollution/

America’s Spirit & Sustainability

It’s still Bourbon Heritage Month (yay!), so cheers to all of the old and the new bourbons, artisans, and distillers that have worked so hard to produce America’s Spirit! It is also a good time to bring up a burning hot topic these days… Sustainability, which is one of The Spearhead Group’s core values.  But what does sustainability really mean and how does sustainability relate to the America’s Spirit?

As we are seeing more and more companies share their sustainability goals, the questions around what to measure and what are the best metrics still remain. When creating bourbon, are companies looking at all possibilities to become more sustainable?  For example, from grain (sustainable farms and transport to the distillery) through post consumer use? This article, Bourbon & Sustainability, by Katie Garner is a great snapshot of various opportunities in the bourbon industry.

“As soon as Spearhead starts working on projects, one of our major focuses is to make sure that the packaging is ‘right-sized’ which might mean smaller in footprint.  We have had great success eliminating otherwise plastic films with eye-catching art and touch-and-feel open apertures to delight consumers.  We continue to challenge that smaller footprints aren’t enough to attract consumers.  We believe consumers want to have an experience with their brands and products, and the packaging is an opportunity to show consumers how engaging products can be.  There are of course cases when the client wants the larger footprint, but we continue to seek more sustainable materials for structure and design.” – Lana Toler

How do you show your consumers that sustainability is a core value of your business and brand?

5 Favorite Bourbons to Enjoy for National Bourbon Heritage Month

Get Excited!  It’s September, National Bourbon Heritage Month.  This month we celebrate bourbon as America’s “Native Spirit”.

Kentucky has quite the history and is home to globally renowned bourbons. As you may know, there has also been a tremendous boom in artisan distillery development in Kentucky as well!

During this month, Lana Toler, Spearhead’s Marketing & Innovation Manager based in Louisville, Kentucky, is taking part in Bourbon & Banter’s 30 Bourbons in 30 Days Challenge (follow her on Instagram @lanatoler).  In addition to sharing her 30-Day tasting adventure in the spirit of celebrating bourbon, she wanted to share her top five favorite bourbons.

1.     Knob Creek Single Barrel: Anyone who has experienced bourbon with me knows that my all time favorite bourbon is Knob Creek Single Barrel. I’m currently drinking a barrel selected by Kroger Wine & Spirits (warehouse Z, floor 06, rick 12, barreled on 1/19/2011 and selected on 6/1/2021). I love it on ‘a rock’ or with a sphere of frozen cabernet.
2.    Rabbit Hole Dareringer, Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in PX Sherry Casks: Not only is the packaging beautiful (and has a purple label!), but the liquid is beautiful as a sipper or as the star of an Old Fashioned.
3.     Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch: I have been fortunate to meet Fawn Weaver, Uncle Nearest CEO, twice and have now met Victoria Eady Butler, Uncle Nearest Distiller and Master Blender, too! I am in love with the brand story as well as the Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch.  I drink it neat… in my Bacarat Crystal rocks glass of course.
4.     Widow Jane 10-Year:  After meeting, tasting, and learning about Widow Jane from Distillery President and Head Distiller & Blender Lisa Wicker at The 2021 Bourbon Women SIPosium in August, I am in love with Widow Jane 10 year straight up in my clear Norlan glass.
5.     Starlight Distillery Barrel Pick (Bourbon Women): Although you will not be able to get a bottle, I wanted to share a fun experience with the Starlight Distillery team.  I was fortunate to be part of the Bourbon Women 10th Anniversary barrel pick at Starlight Distillery just over the state line in Indiana.  Almost unanimously chosen by the Bourbon Women group, we chose Starlight’s Bourbon Finished in Cognac Barrels.  It is a robust and complex profile that takes me on a sensorial adventure which goes down so smooth

“I have been living and working in bourbon country for over 20 years and I am continually impressed with the old and the new arts of distilling, blending, and aging of bourbon.  I have always been a bourbon appreciator, but I am on a quest to try as many bourbons as possible.  Meeting folks in the bourbon industry that love the art and science of bourbon craft have been a huge influence on my passion for the liquid and the processes to creating the best liquid on earth!” – Lana Toler, Marketing & Innovation Manager

Giving Back: Heather Fritzsche, CEO/Co-founder Shares Her Personal Causes

With the introduction of The Spearhead Give Back Program this Fall, we reached out to Heather Fritzsche, CEO/Co-founder, about her own personal causes. Heather understands the fact that giving back to the community not only builds team morale but increases overall cooperation, both essential factors for business growth.  Read below to learn more about our conversation with Heather.

What volunteer organizations are you involved with or have deep meaning to you?
Sierra Club

What’s your volunteer style? Are you the person who ends up helping at the event or the project organizer?
Helping – Running my two businesses take up a lot of time, so I don’t have a lot of bandwidth to organize events anymore.  But whenever I can show up and donate my time, I do.

Why do you choose to give back?
Because I am able and everyone who is able should.

What excites you about starting The Spearhead Group Give-Back Program?
I say it all the time, that companies have more responsibilities than just paying salaries and turning a profit.  Companies have tremendous resources available to make the world a better place, and Spearhead has reached the size where we should be carrying our weight in terms of making social impact.  I’m happy to make this first step in supporting our team to contribute to the causes that are important to them, and I look at it like a first step on a long journey of philanthropy for Spearhead.

Get to Know April Wachtel, Founder/CEO of Cheeky Cocktails

April Wachtel, Founder/CEO of Cheeky Cocktails, is a 24-year veteran in the beverage and hospitality industry. She is an experienced mixologist, a cocktail & spirits instructor, Host of the Movers and Shakers podcast and an innovator. She leads a team of 8 to create an array of premium, all-natural syrups, and juices for the consumer.

In 2015, Cheeky Cocktails began its journey as Swig + Swallow. Founder and beverage industry veteran, April, realized people were looking for the path to make the best cocktails for their friends and guests, but were overwhelmed by the complexity or doubted their cocktail-making abilities. April set out to simplify cocktail making with a batched cocktail service. As time evolved, so did her business. In 2019, April realized that she had a decision to make for the next steps for her brand, to evolve the brand and produce shelf stable syrups and juices. From there, you can combine full bottles with a spirit of your choice to make your favorite cocktails. The rebrand as Cheeky Cocktails happened in early 2020 and since then the team has watched their business grow. Cheeky Cocktails brand launch was planned as large format syrups and juices for batched cocktails, but when COVID entered the US in March, Cheeky launched a smaller home cocktail version of the syrups, along with a bartender affiliate program, to provide an opportunity for those who had become unemployed or under-employed during the pandemic. As the Cheeky team has grown, they have partnered with bartenders and spirits companies as well as a range of Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies for happy hours and cocktail classes.

The Spearhead Group began working together with April last year. In 2020, Cheeky Cocktails partnered with Don Julio Tequila on an innovative project to launch a cocktail kit. With the advancement of cocktail kits, The Spearhead Group collaborated with both brands to create a custom and innovative brand package. The team was able to work together to innovatively design the kits to hold two 50-ML bottles of Don Julio Blanco Tequila and two bottles of Cheeky Margarita Mix. The Spearhead Group is now working together with April on her next project, which includes an experiential e-commerce platform. Stay tuned over the next year to learn more.

“Working together with April and Cheeky Cocktails is a joy. She has an innovative process in developing cocktail and shelf stable syrups for consumers to enjoy,” said Lana Toler, Marketing, and Innovation Manager at The Spearhead Group. “April presents both art and science in her cocktail making and her products taste amazing.”

Cheeky Cocktails is an innovative company that is always looking for the next creative path. April said that they are always wanting to keep evolving and having an intimate conversation with their consumers. Finally, We asked April what cocktail and syrup combination she would recommend: Cheeky Cocktails Honey-Ginger Syrup combined with scotch for a classic Penicillin. Cheeky Cocktails is available online or you can find them through their website.

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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