Spearhead Welcomes Colectivo Dimetria to Pioneer Program – Innovative Wood Product Manufacturer Pioneer

The Spearhead Group is excited to announce a new edition to the Pioneer team, Colectivo Dimetria. Dimetria is an innovative wood product manufacturer located in Mexico City, Mexico and a 100% Woman-Owned Business. We are particularly proud to have Dimetria as a pioneer because they are consistent with supporting Spearhead’s core values of promoting other woman-owned businesses and sustainability by using FSC Certified Products. They are dedicated to providing creative solutions, from generating the original concept to final production. Dimetria has carried out various projects in image and brand identity, product development, displays, packaging, premium corporate gifts, as well as CNC and laser cutting. Their goal is to make everyday something special, through products that combine aesthetic with the functional aspect. Dimetria is situated in North America and offers the ability to accommodate both small and large orders allowing opportunities for high quality wood products with shorter lead times than typical overseas production.

“We couldn’t be happier to have been selected for the Pioneer program. It represents a recognition of the years of hard work that it has taken to build Dimetria from scratch, but most importantly, it is an exciting opportunity to continue growing in partnership with the best,” states Alejandra Flores, Sole Owner, Founder, & Commercial Director, Colectivo Dimetria. “Spearhead and Dimetria share the same values, particularly a focus on innovation, a commitment to high quality and the fostering of creativity in everything we do. I expect great things to come out of this strategic partnership!”

“As Chief Innovation Officer, I am very excited to have Dimetria added on to our Pioneer Program. After working with this group for about a year, I have found them to be in sync with collaborating on new to world designs,” said Robert Catalano, Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder, The Spearhead Group. “By far, they have the most capable and creative wood engineers that have allowed us to push the limits of combining both luxury and engineering into wood boxes. Additionally, like us, they are very focused on sustainability. The wood that is supplied will always be responsibly sourced and FSC Certified.”

Spearhead Family: Abdulrahman Alrifai, Onsite Quality Manager

For our Spearhead Family post this month we are highlighting Abdulrahman Alrifai, Onsite Quality Manager at The Spearhead Group in Canada. Based in Amherstburg, Ontario, Abdul is a vital resource and operations lead for our clients. Abdul shares more with us about joining The Spearhead Group and what inspires him to work on innovative projects.

Tell us about why and when you joined The Spearhead Group.
I was thrilled to be asked to join The Spearhead Group in March 2019 as an Onsite Quality Advisor based in Canada. It has been a great opportunity acting as a vital resource to ensure product compliance and providing customer support as part of the group strategy to achieve excellence in providing services. In January 2020, I joined the team as a permanent team member as an Onsite Quality Manager for operations based in Amherstburg, Ontario. Working together with this team has been amazing; I love to work within a team that can brainstorm, find solutions, practice and build ideas to innovate within this industry.

Tell us a little more about your background and what excites/inspires you to work on innovative projects?
I started my career as a cereal quality chemist in grain silos and moved into production and cereal processing. As my passion grew, I added in the implementation, coaching, and auditing of different management systems, while volunteering in assessing government excellence awards.  I worked on an inspiring innovation project that establisheda chain of trading gifts and children learning stores. This was an inspirational outcome from the necessity to improvethe quality of education of youth in my area by improving their on-hand experience. It was a successful experience based of collaboration between trade people, passionate scientists, and industry professionals to find innovative products with relation to specific ages. Today, this innovative process is still driven by my current peers and they strive for new ideas and innovation solutions.

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?
In my role, I support the client in using our product, helping them know how to reduce waste and prioritize sustainability, and more. When issues arise on the floor with the client, even if it is not related to Spearhead’s products, I try to add value with collaboration, for example by coming up with strategies to reduce loss of material. I feel like I am a part of that team too, with an every morning smile to the team on daily basis, respecting their health and safety rules, and being flexible to scheduling changes to achieve the ultimate goal of win-win situation for all.

The Spearhead Group Collaborates with Package Development Company to Create Cocktails-To-Go Solution

The Spearhead Group is proud to collaborate with our Spearhead Pioneer, Package Development Company, Inc, to create a patent pending Cocktails-To-Go (CTG) solution for our clients.  As many states are passing legislation to keep Cocktails-To-Go as a permanent offering even after Americans are returning back to bars and restaurants in person, it is important to make sure that consumers are getting high quality, safe products that also meet the needs of the restaurant owners and bartenders.

Our patent-pending solution allows for restaurants and bars to provide their customers with a handmade 8 oz. cocktail with the condiments locked freshly at the top, for easy transportation home, and to assure the freshness of the ingredients – which is necessary for a great cocktail!  For safety, the cup has a tamper resistant closure which is spill resistant when closed.

“The Spearhead Group and Package Development Company have collaborated to fill a void for this category that didn’t exist before. We are proud to be able to continue to innovate to changing market needs in the industry.” – Robert Catalano, Chief Innovation Officer & Co-Founder

In addition, this technology can be adjusted for larger containers for batch cocktails, which may be more prevalent as more people gather together in person. If you are interested in this product, please reach out to Lana Toler, Marketing & Innovation Manager for more information.


Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

The Spearhead Group’s core values include a focus on sustainability which we share with our partners and clients on a global scale. One way to bring awareness to sustainability is Earth Month, which celebrates 51 years this April. Earth Month is specifically focused on “a month of activities, bringing about awareness and sharing of knowledge about environmental and social-economic issues in any given area or region by its intrinsic needs. A month of such activities broadens a time period with the hope that such activities will continue throughout the year.”

Earth Month is another great opportunity to reflect on what The Spearhead Group is doing to share knowledge and encourage activities to continuously design with sustainability in mind. Not only do we believe that sustainability is important for our packaging designs, but the culture at Spearhead encourages everyone to open their hearts and minds to opportunities to save Earth’s natural resources including local river clean-ups. Sustainability can be defined and measured in a variety of ways, but we always partner with clients to develop and continue to engineer packaging with sustainability in mind; specifically minimizing the total amount of packaging, using recycled materials, and ensuring all post-consumer packaging is recyclable or reusable. We continue to search the globe for partners that innovate with recycled materials and promote innovation for secondary usage. A few interesting examples of innovative sustainable materials include: mango by-product/coffee/bacteria to make vegan leather, biodegradable and ‘turtle edible’ wheat and barley packaging by E6PR , and seed paper that is made with post-consumer waste that is biodegradable and grows plants. In the beauty and personal care industry, LOLI Beauty, owned by Tory Burch Fellow Tina Hedges, is launching a set of three organic beauty products packed in mushroom and upcycled packaging – the first 100%, zero-waste beauty set.

“What the earth needs from all of us – particularly those of us who are responsible for packaging and procurement decisions – is the intent and determination to make sustainable choices in every single decision we face,” said Heather Fritzsche, Co-Founder & CEO of The Spearhead Group. “Some of these decisions are difficult to make, come with some risk, or with higher costs (although most come with reduced costs), but as corporate procurement decision makers, we have a higher level of accountability and impact than each of us have individually as citizens. As corporations we need to continually upgrade and expand our sustainable choices and programs.”

We would like to challenge you to think about how you or your company can create a sustainable-forward thinking culture. Have you realized your potential to bring awareness and knowledge to your community about environmental and social-economic issue to create yearlong efforts?

If your company wants to take the first step, please reach out to discuss how you can look at your packaging from a sustainability perspective and minimize your impact on the Earth. Please reach out to Lana Toler.

The Spearhead Group Sponsors Design & Creative Upcycling Program with the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) Turin in Italy

Students are the future of design and innovation. For a second year, The Spearhead Group is proud to announce an exclusive sponsorship of an innovative program with the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) Turin in Italy. The 2021 program features a creative upcycling and reuse element of PVC rods recovered from industrial processes. This Spring, students were briefed on the program by the Spearhead Group, challenging them to create and design objects, products, or accessories using rods along with only common and accessible materials.

“This program allows us to work closely with IED Turin and the students to provide a challenge that can inspire innovation from a brand-new perspective. Adding in the elements of re-use to the program this year allows students to study new ways to look at production dunnage,” says Robert Catalano, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of The Spearhead Group. “Students are our future, and we want to invest in them. The European Institute of Design is a dynamic global partner that allows our team to work together with the next generation of great designers and innovators.”

The selected participants are six teams of two students that have been selected from the Product Design and Jewelry & Accessories Design courses at IED Turin. By utilizing between 50 to 200 rods per or team, the students must create images/drawings of the proposed idea or product, a physical product, and a simple video showing the design concept, solution, and instructions for step-by-step production of the new product. Students will have access to an on-site teacher and a tutor for graphic design supervision and video realization. This participation is part of an extracurricular program for these students and will be completed during their own time. With the COVID restrictions, students are able to schedule lab days on the campus to complete these projects, while still maintaining protocols.

Students will be judged on the overall design, functionality, and innovative thinking. The winning designer will receive a cash prize and a possible Internship in virtual design through Spearhead’s U.S. Innovation Centers. Students will present their ideas at the end of May 2021 to Heather Fritzsche, Robert Catalano Natale Bauducco, and Giovanna Pinna.

“We’re are thrilled to work together again with IED Turin,” adds Natale Bauducco, European Advisor for The Spearhead Group and one of the project leaders. “We can’t wait to unveil the innovative designs later this year and look forward to an ongoing collaboration with the best and brightest students in design.”

About Istituto Europeo di Design (IED)
For more than fifty years, the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) has been operating in the fields of education and research in design, fashion, visual communication, and management. Today, the IED is a constantly expanding international network that awards academic achievement diplomas and organizes Master’s courses, continuing professional education, and advanced training. Originally founded in Italy, the IED is based globally in Milan, Rome, Turin, Florence, Venice, Cagliari, Como, Madrid, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. Coursework is taught by leading design faculty with a respect for applied skills, constant innovation, and environmental sustainability. The IED-Turin school is known for a cross-disciplinary approach from filmmaking and fashion to communications, industrial design, visual arts, and humanities.

Spearhead Family: Janelle Biehl, Assistant Product Development Manager

The Spearhead Group is pleased to announce and welcome Janelle Biehl to the Spearhead Family as Assistant Product Development Manager. Janelle will work closely with Vianney Becerril, Senior Product Development Manager. Janelle joins the team with a background in beauty industry merchandising & marketing and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry. She brings a high level of diverse knowledge, skill, and experience, as well as an excitement about what’s next with the industry. While Janelle was a part of the beauty industry, she found her passion in storytelling and formulations. She looks forward to sharing that same passion with The Spearhead Group.

“Janelle is a great addition to our team. Her experience in product development and passion for sustainability will add so much value to our seasoned team. I am very excited to collaborate together.” – Vianney Becerril

This month, we are excited to highlight Janelle for our Spearhead Family feature to learn a little more about who she is and about joining The Spearhead Group.

Tell us about why and when you joined The Spearhead Group.
Janelle: I joined The Spearhead Group at the beginning of March and every day I feel even more grateful to be working with this team. The core values of The Spearhead Group align with my own personal core values; sustainability, innovative thinking, and doing the right thing. Being that we spend 40+ hours a week dedicated to our jobs, I believe that you should be passionate about your work, and when you are able to find a job where you not only enjoy the daily tasks but also aligns with your heart, I think you have a major key to success and happiness.

Tell us a little more about your background and what excites/inspires you to work on innovative projects?
Janelle: I started my innovation journey studying Chemistry in college and even did a research program on Materials Chemistry at the University of Michigan. While I loved my work, I knew I did not want to be working in a lab for my whole career. I took a chance and rerouted myself into beauty product development – becoming a Product and Packaging Developer for a makeup brand in Los Angeles and later transitioning into Product Development and Innovation for a luxury skincare brand. After 5 years of spotting trends and creating some incredible products, I am now excited to be learning about new industries and opportunities with The Spearhead Group. I think innovation is really at my core – I love interpreting what is going on in different industries and around the world and strategizing where it all could be going next. You never know where your next inspiration may come from or lead you. I’ve been lucky enough to have some of the most brilliant minds as mentors in my career who have also helped shape how I think about innovation. I am really looking forward to all I can now learn from the team at Spearhead and discovering how I can start to grow in a new space.

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. Can do attitude. Entrepreneurial Spirit). How do you practice these values?
Janelle: As I mentioned, these all align with how I live my day-to-day life. I was lucky enough to be a part of sustainability and diversity advisory boards in previous roles, and I also practice being environmentally conscious in many decisions I make. Doing the right thing and treating all with respect is also something that I’ve learned through my years of working with different suppliers, manufacturers, and even coworkers from around the world. Being able to travel and work all around the country and the world really opens your eyes to show how kindness and empathy can really help build stronger relationships with anyone and everyone. As for the can-do attitude and going the extra mile – I also think I was born practicing these values. As a 10-year-old I would say that I want to become a CEO, so I think I have always had some entrepreneurial spirit in my blood. To me that attitude and spirit align directly with innovation, as I think innovation is a result of going the extra mile, continuing to push through challenges, addressing them head-on with new solutions, and not being afraid to take risks.

The Spearhead Group Sponsors Upcycling Design Project with Ibero University, Mexico City

Patricia Burguete, Founder & Managing Director, Spearhead Mexico, has not only collaborated to build new innovative Pioneer relationships in Mexico but has worked closely with Ibero University, Mexico City, on an exclusive sponsorship of an upcycling design project.

In late 2020, Patricia presented a design brief to the University and worked together to present the project to participating students in 2021. The project, placed within the curriculum of second-year and fourth-year students, features a creative upcycling element of PVC rods recovered from industrial processes. Students will create and design a DIY project using these rods, along with common and accessible materials.

“From the launch of The Spearhead Group, one of our main goals was to approach things differently, challenging the status quo and disrupting how and why particular practices have been done,” said Robert Catalano, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of The Spearhead Group. “In this case, working closely with students to study new ways to look at production dunnage, find and possibly create positive socially impactful uses for these, is exactly to that core value. We are proud to continue to support student’s creative development while maybe creating a new upcycling practice that has never been implemented before.”

The program presents two main challenges: 1. Develop connector solutions for the rods applying existing items or solutions, so they can be joined together without creating additional items or materials; 2. Develop an item that promotes the reuse or upcycling of other materials, makes the most efficient use of the rods by avoiding cutting sections that will not be used, and can be offered as a DIY product. Additionally, students will take into consideration designing to fit all incomes and ways of life, from people living in remote communities to people living in cities. They were asked to design for practicality, but also attractiveness. The project allows students to stretch their innovative ideas from shelving to home improvement items and beyond.

By utilizing a maximum of 50 rods per individual or team, the second-year students must research, design, and create prototypes or actual items. Fourth-year students are also required to design a marketing/business plan for their product, as well as proposals of ways to generate income; income generation ideas could be in the form of sell one/give one, or other creative ideas.  The rods project will be part of the second-year students’ Spring term academic curriculum, and a Spring term-long project for the fourth-year students who will be working in teams comprised of the different branches of design. COVID restrictions have added additional challenges to the development of these projects; with an online-only contact between teachers and students and no access to the university’s Design labs, both students and teachers have to apply extra creativity to sharing and applying solutions for building the items they design while working exclusively from home.

“The opportunity to work together with IBERO and the students on this innovative design program is inspiring. Students’ creativity can bring unique ideas to the development and re-use of products, and they will benefit from the experience of working on a real-life project” says Patricia Burguete, Spearhead Group. “We look forward to the creative ideas that are developed from this program, and to building a relationship with IBERO.”

Students will present their final projects to the University and the Spearhead Group at the end of the semester. The Spearhead Group will consider investing in the development and production of the most innovative solutions.

Ibero University, Mexico City
Ibero University, Mexico City is one of the country’s private leading academic and research institutions. It offers students a unique educational experience through its community of faculty, alumni and professionals dedicated to real-world learning. Established over 70 years ago, Ibero University, Mexico City is one of the nation’s first private universities and was the first Industrial Design school in Mexico. Drawing on the legacy of improving themselves every year, they provide rigorous programs of research and study preparing students for life, educating the whole person through exposure to different faiths, cultures and beliefs.

Spearhead Welcomes Ecological Fibers to Pioneer Program – New Strategic Material Pioneer

We are proud to welcome Ecological Fibers to our Pioneer Program as a new strategic material pioneer. As the Pioneer program grows and expands, everyone benefits from the unique opportunities that come with being a part of Spearhead’s success in reinventing how the industry works together.

Ecological Fibers, based in Massachusetts, has paved the way towards enhancing environmental innovation while producing specialty cover materials that have helped protect the most beloved and recognizable books and luxury packaging in the world. From vibrantly coated and uncoated colored papers to modern textiles, flock, and PU materials, Ecological Fibers offers the variety, customization, and global availability brands need to achieve the luxury appeal desired in today’s retail markets. Designing folding cartons and boxes with color and texture offers a new level of character, class, and sophistication, honoring the luxury of the contents within. Ecological provides an avenue for luxury paper and material wraps, while also working with the highest quality and most responsibly sourced materials available. They were the first in the industry to remove the use of solvents in their coatings and become 100% water-based and continue to this day to produce their coated materials without the use of any heavy metals or harmful chemicals.

“Our impact on the environment is important to us, and by joining forces with the Spearhead Pioneer Program, we will be able to assist clients and brands in offering more eco-responsible choices in covering materials for the packaging design community,’ said Ryan Flynn, Marketing Manager Ecological Fibers. “We firmly believe that you should never have to choose between offering a responsible solution or a quality solution, you can have both. ”

“Ecological Fibers not only has amazing and innovative looking and feeling materials, but their substrates also match with our core value of offering our clients environmentally friendly options,” said Robert Catalano, Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder, The Spearhead Group.

By working together with Ecological, The Spearhead Group has set out to revolutionize the industry and redefine how packaging and brands collaborate to deliver a more memorable buyer and consumer experience. With global reach, Ecological can support Spearhead’s Innovation Labs, help create libraries for regular clients, and expedite speed to market. We look forward to working together with Ecological to enhance Physical Brand EnhancementTM that will strengthen brand identity and inspire customer loyalty from concept to production.

Interested in joining the Spearhead Pioneer Program? Reach out to Ray DeCarlo directly at rdecarlo@thespearheadgroup.com

Insights: RTD-focused Webinars

At Spearhead, we continue to grow not only in innovation but also in our knowledge of the growth in industry. Over the course of the last few weeks, Lana Toler, Marketing and Innovation Manager, has had the opportunity to attend some top-line RTD-focused webinars with BevAlc Insights/Drizly and Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

On March 24, Drizly hosted BevAlc Insights’ One Year Post Lockdown: What We’ve Learned and What’s Next for Retailers webinar. This webinar took a deeper dive into the lasting impact of the pandemic on the alcohol industry with featured speakers from Lewenberg, along with leaders from Constellation Brands and Georgio’s Liquors. Kristin TerHorst from Constellation Brandsprovided some resonating notes about the “Cross Category Blur” during the course of the webinar. She stated that brands need to use clear messaging to illustrate what sets products apart. Also, as we continue to discuss new ways for gifting (such as eCommerce), Drizly is reporting higher delivery gifting by more than 54%. That alcohol eCommerce boom is also driven by new consumers entering the space (up by 167%). Read more from BevAlc Insights recent article.

On March 25, The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States presented a live webinar: ABC’s of RTDs – How Ready-to-Drink Cocktails Are Changing the Marketplace. As we all know, everyone is entering the RTD business… the three major consumer motivations when selecting their RTD are flavor, cocktail and alcohol base per the IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. RTD Cocktails have expanded in international markets and are an emerging category for the U.S. This webinar focused on how the U.S. can apply lessons learned from overseas to further develop RTD cocktails into a stronger category in the coming years. DISCUS and a panel of industry partners, discussed the past, present and the future of RTD cocktails. One top insight that Lana took away from the segment was from Heather Boyd from Beam Suntory. She shared that an RTD’s are beginning to move “beyond the backyard”, they are an emerging dynamic.

The RTD category is expected to benefit from continued ‘strong performance’ in the U.S. The Spearhead Group looks forward to being a part of this growing market.

The Spearhead Group Welcomes FoldStar Inc to Pioneer Team – The First Innovation Pioneer

We are proud to welcome FoldStar Inc to our Pioneer Program as the first innovation Pioneer. In order to continually provide innovative PBE™ to clients, the Spearhead Pioneer program partners with some of the best-in-class innovators, inventors, raw material suppliers, manufacturers and converters in the world. With the addition of FoldStar, the Spearhead Pioneer program will take another advancement in Innovation and spearhead the team into delivering new concepts to clients.

FoldStar Inc is a world-leader in folded tessellation engineering. Based in New Jersey, the FoldStar team will work with The Spearhead Group in creating an exclusive software for the packaging industry.

What is tessellation you may ask? Tessellation is the art of taking flat materials to create a shape by folding. Tessellation can take the shape of almost any fitted object, such as a bottle, and offers clients new avenues to achieve the most advanced packaging in the industry. It can also be used to help reduce cost and material wastage.

“FoldStar Inc develops novel folding simulation software for a variety of industries. The Spearhead Pioneer program has allowed us to collaborate with leaders in the packaging industry,” said CEO Matt Jezyk, FoldStar Inc. Our novel software and manufacturing techniques can be used to generate less waste, reduce plastic, and deliver novel concepts in these uncertain times.”

“We believe the advancement of PBE comes from looking at packaging as it is today in a totally different way. Now folding cartons are simply 90% angle folds, this has not changed for 100’s of years, regardless of the shape of the products the box is holding,” said Robert Catalano, Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder, The Spearhead Group. “However, now with FoldStar’s exclusive tessellation technology, Spearhead can literally think outside the box and reshape the packaging industry as we know it. Making unique structures with never seen before shapes, that also has the benefit of adding strength while reducing the size and overall material usage. Spearhead & FoldStar working together on tessellation design to new tessellation production processes is a real game-changer for the industry. Proving once again how we live up to our name.”

FoldStar Inc joining the Spearhead Group’s Pioneer Program opens many opportunities in the industry. They will work very closely with the new Yardley Innovation Lab, as well as be able to integrate designs for the China and Mexico Innovation teams to complete training and design. The new innovation technology will bring simplicity for our designers, precision for our engineers. By combining FoldStar with the abilities of other Pioneers, like strategic material supplier BillerudKorsnäs, we will be able to provide real change to our clients with Physical Brand Enhancement™. Our team of Spearhead Pioneers will help enhance and extend our clients’ brands beyond the ordinary.

If you are interested in joining the Spearhead Pioneer Program, reach out to Ray DeCarlo directly at rdecarlo@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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