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October 2021

News and Views for the clients of Universal Logistics

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Client focus underlined by three
key appointments

Three senior Managers at Universal – Debbie McGuire, David Lychek and Janice Ilkay – have been promoted to the position of Director as part of a corporate wide effort to augment an already strong commitment to client service.

Debbie McGuire, Director – Freight Solutions David Lychek, Director – Ocean & Air Services Janice Ilkay, Director – IT Solutions
Debbie McGuire,
Director – Freight Solutions
David Lychek,
Director – Ocean & Air Services
Janice Ilkay,
Director – IT Solutions

“All three are wonderful people with fresh ideas and a deep respect for the way we do business,” said Michael Glionna, President.  “They are on the cutting edge in their respective fields, but never forget the importance of client service or any of the other small business values that will always be an important element of our success formula.”

In their new roles, the three Directors will have the following responsibilities:

Debbie McGuire, Director – Freight Solutions will manage our Freight Solutions team and take an active role in providing creative solutions to meet the freight needs of our clients and international agent partners.

David Lychek, Director – Ocean & Air Services will oversee our Ocean and Air Freight Operations in Canada and the U.S., with the main focus being to ensure our clients experience efficient shipment moves and prompt status communications.

Janice Ilkay, Director – IT Solutions will manage our IT Solutions team, enhancing our operational efficiencies and executing strategies to meet the various technology requirements of our clients.

Debbie, David and Janice join our existing Director team:

  • Brian Rowe, Director – Customs Compliance & Regulatory Affairs
  • Chris Cartan, Director – Operations
  • John Leis, Director – Client Relations

US land borders reopening November 8

US and Canada Flags

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that, beginning November 8, the U.S. will allow non-essential Canadian and Mexican travelers, who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and have the appropriate documentation, to enter the United States via land and ferry ports of entry (POEs) across the U.S. border.

Although the Canada-U.S. border restrictions into Canada had been eased in July 2021 to fully vaccinated U.S. non-essential visitors, restrictions into the U.S. had remained unchanged for non-essential travellers.

In a statement from U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas “In alignment with the new international air travel system that will be implemented in November, we will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner.”

Beginning in early January 2022, the DHS will require that all inbound foreign national travelers crossing U.S. land or ferry POEs – whether for essential or non-essential reasons – be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination. This approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers, students, and healthcare workers to get vaccinated.

This new travel system will create consistent, stringent protocols for all foreign nationals traveling to the United States – whether by air, land, or ferry – and accounts for the wide availability of COVID-19 vaccinations.

For more information, contact Brian Rowe, Director – Customs Compliance & Regulatory Affairs.

Retail preps for a Holiday beset by Supply Chain issues


Before gifts can make it under holiday trees this year, they are going to have to pass through one of the largest-scale traffic jams modern supply chains have ever experienced.  In the U.S., the retail industry is not fretting over customer demand headed into the holiday shopping season, as estimates expect sales could increase by as much as 10% this year, which would come on top of relatively strong growth last year that surprised pretty much everyone.

However, before retailers can make their sales, they need product to sell and that is where the problem lies.  Container ships are packed, ports are clogged, contracts with carriers are falling to the wayside and the rush to ship goods for the holidays is only adding traffic to what was already intense congestion.  There simply are not enough containers, ships, trucks and trains available, resulting in more volume than any part of the supply chain pipeline can adequately handle.

So, not only are retailers competing with each other for sales, they are competing just to get cargo space to ship goods.  Freight prices have skyrocketed as a result, and shipments still lag or even fail to materialize.  Many of the bottlenecks are tied to the unexpectedly swift surge in consumer demand in the U.S. this year, combined with capacity shortfalls at numerous points along the supply chain.  Those reductions stem from COVID-19 outbreaks at ports and factories, as well as capacity taken offline last year as demand plummeted and retailers cancelled orders.  Many retail companies feel that supply chains have been permanently disrupted by COVID-19, and most expect it to be a rough holiday, one unlike anything we’ve seen before.  The prediction is we are going to see a lot of bare shelves, with many retailers not even able to obtain half of the merchandise they expected to offer this season.

In terms of freight costs, the previous norm of $2,000 to $3,000 for ocean-bound shipping containers from areas such as China, have been replaced by rates that have hit as much as $25,000.  While many companies have been forced to pay such rates to ensure product supply, others have held off shipping, hoping for lower rates, only to find rates remain high.  At the same time carrier space is as crimped as ever, resulting in inventory remaining stuck in overseas factories.  To overcome such issues larger retailers like Walmart, Home Depot and Ikea have chartered their own ships to ensure goods get delivered.  Others have spent what would in past years have been unthinkable amounts of money to fly product in by airfreight, usually a transportation mode of last resort for many companies.  This dynamic will likely lead to one of the most expensive holiday shopping seasons for consumers.

In the end, it is expected that even large retailers will struggle to hold onto their margins and keep shelves stocked for the holiday season.  Smaller players will have to stock what they can and lay off the deals that are the hallmarks of the shopping season.  We expect to see a lot less promotional activity this year, as retailers try to recoup some of the margin they are losing across the board, adding that prices on consumer goods are one of the few levers you can adjust in this market.

As a forewarning to those who wait until the final days before Christmas to buy gifts, you may be in for a really rough holiday season.

For more information, contact David Lychek, Director – Ocean & Air Services.

China’s export advantage declining due to soaring
ocean freight pricing and rising raw material costs

Export Cart

Chinese exporters are being hurt by sky-high freight costs and rising raw material prices rather than falling demand for goods from developed countries, manufacturers say.  Freight prices have jumped more than 400 per cent from their lowest point last year, causing importers to question the economic viability of buying from China.  Freight costs as a proportion of total export expenses are no longer trending down, as they were before the Coronavirus pandemic began.  It should be pointed out that the impact of rising freight costs on exports of various industries is not balanced.  Goods with high unit value and small volume are less sensitive to rising freight costs, while goods with low unit value but are large in volume are more sensitive to rising freight costs.

One of the reasons labour-intensive products such as toys and other Christmas goods from China are so price competitive is because they are sent by the cheapest mode of transport – ocean shipping.  But, as sea freight prices have surged in the past 18 months, some importers have started to scale back their buying.  Many have cancelled orders over the past two months after producers raised prices on the back of surging raw material and freight costs.  Christmas orders from the United States and Australia declined this year compared to 2020, when the pandemic was far from under control.  Typically, May to October are very busy months for Chinese exporters, however, many have not experienced any peak season this year.

The pandemic has not only hurt shipping capacity around the world, but it has taken a heavy toll on supply chains, with some Chinese manufacturers saying it is becoming too expensive to source the materials they need to make the goods they sell.  To cope, many producers of low-value goods have started cutting back on production and turning away orders to preserve their margins.

In the process, the high freight costs have changed the make-up of goods exported from China.  During the pandemic, exports of goods with higher unit value and smaller volume performed better than those with lower unit value and larger volume.  The most typical example is the rapid growth of exports from the computer communications industry and pandemic-related pharmaceutical industry, while the growth with lower added value but large volume has been sluggish.

While the total value of Chinese exports rose 25.6 per cent in August to US $294.32 billion from a year earlier, the export volume of various products – ranging from bicycles to home appliances – declined over the same period.  The rising prices for products concealed the declining export volumes and the trend is likely to continue unless current freight costs are addressed.  This year’s Christmas orders have also been stretched out over a few months, causing a ‘smoothing’ effect on China’s monthly export data.  Buyers anticipated the higher freight costs and the congestion problems, so many placed orders in advance.

There are more signs Chinese exports might have peaked, too.  The new order and new export order sub-indices of China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 49.3 and 46.2 respectively in September, indicating overseas demand for Chinese products has weakened, particularly as other economies slowly return to normal.  The two sub-indices have declined for three and six months consecutively to September.

For more information, contact David Lychek, Director – Ocean & Air Services.

Global Spotlight Quiz
Global Spotlight
The Andes Mountains can be
seen from most points in the city.

Global Spotlight Quiz

Name the city flanked by the Andes Mountains

  • Situated in the center of a large bowl-shaped valley consisting of broad and fertile lands surrounded by mountains.
  • Founded in 1541 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia.
  • The Presidential Palace, La Moneda, is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks and a historical site.
  • Barrio Bellavista is the city’s bohemian quarter, with numerous restaurants, boutiques, avantgarde galleries, bars and clubs. Many of the city’s intellectuals and artists live here.
  • The Gran Torre is part of the Costanera Center complex, which includes a shopping mall, two hotels and two other office towers.
  • For the first three weeks in January, the city hosts a festival that is an important part of the performing arts culture, offering theater, dance and music events.

See the answer

For more information about shipping freight to or from this city, contact Debbie McGuire, Manager – Freight Solutions.

Quick Tip

Quick Tip

Create a load plan to save time and money

Here is a quick, effective way to reduce transportation costs and minimize the time it takes to load a shipment:  use cargo loading optimization software to build optimal load plans which assists in achieving the most effective arrangement of freight in a container or trailer.

Oswaldo Arteaga, Manager – Client Compliance, Customs Consulting Services
Oswaldo Arteaga
Manager – Client Compliance, Customs Consulting Services

At Your Service: Oswaldo Arteaga, Manager – Client Compliance, Customs Consulting Services

After joining Universal Logistics in 2012, Oswaldo Arteaga has held positions of increasing responsibility which have led to his recent appointment to Manager – Client Compliance, Customs Consulting Services.

In his new role, Oswaldo will strive to improve operational efficiencies and work in cooperation with our Client Relations team, to enhance compliance while uncovering opportunities for our clients to both recover duty and avoid paying duty unnecessarily.

Oswaldo can be reached by phone (905) 882-4880, ext. 1265 or by email.

October 2021

is produced monthly for the clients of Universal Logistics. Reader comment and story ideas are welcome. Comments of general interest to all Route readers will, with the permission of the writer, be published. Copyright ©
Universal Logistics Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction for any commercial use is strictly prohibited.

Route is produced by Universal Logistics. Editor: Bettina Scharnberg. Email: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information contained herein, Universal Logistics accepts no responsibility or liability for errors or omissions. Written correspondence should be forwarded to:

Universal Logistics Inc.
125 Commerce Valley Drive West
Suite 750, Thornhill, Ontario L3T 7W4
Tel: 905-882-4880    Fax: 905-882-2250
Attention: Bettina Scharnberg
Universal Logistics

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