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.

Spearhead Family: John Coffman, Quality Control Manager

For our Spearhead Family post this month we are highlighting our newest Spearhead Group team member, John Coffman, Quality Control Manager. John joined Spearhead this February and shares insights below on what it means to be part of our team.

Tell us about joining The Spearhead Group. What makes you excited to join the team?John: There are many reasons why I am excited to join Spearhead. I was so lucky to find a job close to home based out of the Quality Lab in Yardley. It was meant to be! The company’s passion for sustainability and quality really factored in my decision to join Spearhead. Not too many companies put their money where their mouth is when it comes to quality and sustainability–Spearhead does. They are always actively thinking and working on ideas with long-term benefits. It’s exciting to be a part of. In addition, my role allows me to be hands-on in our test lab with the awesome products we work with and develop.

Tell us a little more about your background and what excites/inspires you to work on product development? I graduated from Temple University with a History and Political Science degree, and soon got involved in Quality Control, working at U-Haul’s manufacturing plants. I think what I love most about my career path in Quality is being on the floor collaborating with production and engineering staff, as well as vendors and suppliers to troubleshoot problems and find solutions to manufacturing processes. This is when I can most directly apply problem-solving skills while getting to know the people I work with and do business with. It’s awesome!

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?

  • Focus on Sustainability & Diversity: Like many people, I love being outside and enjoying what nature has to offer. As a result, I have been very conscious of the amount of waste I contribute to the world and try to cut back where I can. It is important to me to work for a company that values the environment. Spearhead walks the walk, and the team is always thinking of sustainable designs when it comes to packaging. I love it.
  • Diversity: I don’t think civilization would have gotten this far if it was not for being open to and accepting diversity. This was one of the things I loved most about Temple University. I had friends and classmates from all around the world and the campus was so accepting of everyone. It created discussions that were so valuable and fun that it makes me wonder how anyone would not want to create this type of environment.
  • Innovative Thinking: Innovative thinking is so important to problem solving and process improvement, something I confront every day in manufacturing. Spearhead applies innovative thinking not only to Quality (for example, creating new performance tests for our products) but also to development, enabling us to constantly move forward.
  • Do the Right Thing: The first thing that comes to mind is the important message behind the Spike Lee classic movie, Do the Right Thing. Doing the right thing is extremely important not only in business, but in life. It’s a way of living and working that really speaks to a person’s character and integrity. Whether admitting to a mistake, being truthful to a client or a friend, or just following a traffic law, our actions affect everyone around us….so, Do the Right Thing!
  • Acts with Equal Respect for Clients, Colleagues and Suppliers: I think this value goes hand in hand with Doing the Right Thing. When working with clients, suppliers, and coworkers, we are all in this together. Not against one another. With that in mind, being considerate of certain conditions, whether a client or supplier, can only contribute to a productive and open relationship.
  • Go the Extra Mile with Entrepreneurial Spirit: Having this type of attitude and work ethic is important in the manufacturing and business sectors because of the constant changing world around us. The ability to adapt and be open to change is constantly tested by the pace of change in technology and manufacturing processes. As companies continue to automate, new problems continue to arise. As a person who works in Quality, this keeps me on my toes and constantly thinking of ways to be proactive and anticipate issues that may arise. You know, the fun stuff!

Spearhead’s Autocartoner Investment Accelerates

Our New High Speed Autocartoner is Set to Revolutionize the Market

In 2020, The Spearhead Group made the bold decision to invest in a high speed AFA Systems Autocartoner at their Kentucky Flagship location within the office of Spearhead PioneerAcuity Packaging & Logistics. Since this investment, Spearhead has supported more end-to-end inquiries for projects. The reason is simple, most clients want to see an end-to-end, holistic solution to their packaging needs. This means design and development of cartons, not only to fit their brand and sustainability goals, but also to address operating efficiencies all the way through to the final co-packing.

Gone are the days of purchasing value added packs (VAPs) from multiple sources and awkward coordination with separate co-packing sites. In the past, co-packing sites rarely viewed VAP planning details until materials landed at their facility, creating a scramble to figure out the most effective assembly solution. Through our Spearhead end-to-end solution, clients can consolidate every part of the process with multiple partners to design efficiencies from the first creative process to final assembly. Our autocartoner builds to specification to ensure high speed, lower-cost assembly, all with just one-point of contact for our clients.“Our autocartoner program has been a great resource for client inquiry and collaboration and makes great business sense,” said Robert Catalano, Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder of The Spearhead Group. “Programs like VAPs pose systemic challenges on time, bandwidth, and budgets. High speed autocartoning allows us to address integrated brand goals every step of the way, creating efficiency and sustainability. Our autocartoner is just the latest example of how we strive to enhance client solutions and find new ways to revolutionize the marketplace.”If you want to learn more about how your next program can benefit from our Autocartoner solution, please reach out to Lana Toler. We will be happy to review your needs – but don’t delay! Line time is filling up for 2022. We look forward to sharing our latest Spearhead innovation.

Spearhead Continues to Develop and Sponsor University Programs for Innovative Change

Spearhead is once again developing and sponsoring University Programs to continue to advance R&D of innovation in PBE™. The challenge for this year’s Spearhead University Programs will be to create the most sustainable Value Added Package (VAP) in the market.

In 2021, we coordinated programs with two schools: Istituto Europeo di Design in Torino, Italy and Ibero University in Mexico City, Mexico. This year, The Spearhead Group is proud to announce the selection of three universities, including one in the U.S.  We anticipate over 20+ teams of students to participate in this exciting program across three countries. We will be sharing more details throughout the year; stay tuned to our LinkedIn and Blog for our final University selections.

“When it comes to PBE™ innovation, R&D and sustainability, I have found that working with bright and upcoming students results in a tremendous amount of new and unique ideas,” said Robert Catalano, Chief Innovation Officer & Co-founder. “For years, the packaging space has become fairly static, pushing out new graphics over new carton engineering. However at Spearhead, we pride ourselves as market disrupters by constantly pushing for change. The only way we can achieve change is by driving innovative thinking first and not wait for market trends. We strive to make the market trends. Creating and sponsoring university programs is just one of the ways we go about accomplishing this.”

 

National Random Acts of Kindness Day

February 17th marks National Random Acts of Kindness Day. What random act of kindness will you share with someone today? Do you have any planned service for 2022?

While reflecting on what random acts of kindness makes people think of (maybe something nice, something immediate, usually for a stranger), this day also reminds us of planned service opportunities to help others. In 2021, the Spearhead Gives Back Program was developed for employees to give back to causes that they believe in and gives two days of PTO per year to volunteer! What is more motivating than knowing your company appreciates that everyone in your company has a passion for a cause or project?!

Lana Toler, Spearhead’s Marketing & Innovation Manager, is a huge advocate for the Arts (including music!) in schools. “I am very appreciative for Spearhead’s Gives Back Program, which allowed me to donate my time to The Producers, a non-profit organization that enhances student experiences in Youth Performing Arts School by providing substantial programmatic and material support for classroom learning and production expenses that are not included in the school budget. I volunteered, with my son, to park cars during a yearly art fair St. James Art Fair in Kentucky. We parked cars for 8 hours in the parking lots of his High School, where he is a member of Youth Performing Arts School as a percussionist. Between 4 parking areas, we raised $16,780 parking cars! The goal was $14,000 and the money goes to help support the arts and in particular in 2021 replacing all of the tubas!”

If you have the opportunity to make a difference for your cause or project, schedule time to volunteer today!

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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