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April 2017

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Over the past several weeks, a committee, comprised of members of our Executive, Director and Managerial teams, has been developing a comprehensive, multi-faceted plan, dubbed Ignite, designed to ensure that the growth and success of Universal Logistics will continue for many years to come.  The project name, Ignite; a term meaning to arouse or inflame an emotion or situation, was carefully selected, as it aptly described our overall objective; to Ignite and inspire change and improvement.  For those of us, who have been with Universal for the past 4 years or more, the Ignite project is essentially a continuation of the great work that got started a few years ago with Bounce Back!; a companywide improvement plan that was initiated following the loss of Indigo Books & Music Inc..

An integral aspect of the Ignite initiative is to review our current operating procedures to identify areas requiring change and improvement in an effort to develop and enhance our current practices.  In the weeks and months ahead, each Universal team, with the help and guidance of your Manager and the Ignite steering committee, will participate in the review process.  We can assure each of you that while your time commitment to this endeavour will prove minimal, your participation and input will be invaluable!  

Our goal is to Ignite the change and improvement needed to set Universal apart from our competitors, so that our clients, our prospects and you, our team members, recognize Universal Logistics as the best and only CHOICE of service provider and employer.

We want to Ignite with our clients and with you:

Conversations…with our clients and team members about our service and career objectives and possibilities.
Healthy perspective and a belief…that our service outpaces the competition, our clients made the right choice in service provider, and you have made a great career choice by choosing to be members of our team.
Opportunity…for our clients to save money and improve current operating procedures by taking advantage of best practices.  Opportunity for our team members to explore career paths and possibilities.
Interest…for our clients in all areas of our service and for you, our team members, an interest in our company, team objectives and challenges.
Change/Improvement…by analyzing current practices and finding ways to improve in all areas.
Excitement…about our team and the services we offer.

Your direct involvement and the specific details of the Ignite plan will be revealed in various stages over the upcoming months.  An integral aspect of the Ignite improvement plan is to hear from you, the valued members of the Universal Logistics team!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to speak with your Manager.

Come & Play at Canada’s Wonderland

Canada's Wonderland

The annual Universal Logistics Summer Family Event will take place at Canada’s Wonderland on Saturday, June 17th.

After last year’s successful event at the Toronto Zoo, we issued a survey to all employees asking for other suggestions for this year’s Summer Event, and Canada’s Wonderland received the most responses.

Canada’s Wonderland is known as Canada’s premier amusement park and offers attractions for all, young and old.

Please come and join the fun – if you haven’t submitted your RSVP to Claudia DiGiorgio already, please do so as soon as possible!

The park is open from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm and the Universal Event Site, where we will be enjoying lunch and treats, is reserved from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm.

We look forward to seeing you and your family on June 17th for a day of eats and play.

Remembering the Battle of Vimy Ridge

One of the greatest battles in Canadian history and Canada’s most significant victory in World War 1 was the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which began on April 9, 1917.  To mark the 100th anniversary, commemorative events were held on April 9, 2017 at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in northern France.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge began at 5:30 am on Easter Monday, April 9, 1917.  The first wave of 15,000 – 20,000 Canadian soldiers attacked through the wind-driven snow and sleet into the face of deadly machine gun fire.  The battle marked the first time all four Canadian divisions fought together side-by-side during the war, advancing on the heavily fortified ridge.  The Canadians succeeded in seizing the vital high ground of Vimy – which earlier British and French attacks on the stronghold had failed to accomplish.

Canadian bravery and valour led to the tremendous victory for the entire Allied Force and was considered a turning point of WWI.  However, it was not without a huge sacrifice.

Some 100,000 Canadian soldiers took part, with 3,600 killed and more than 7,000 injured.  This was, and remains, the single bloodiest day in Canadian military history.  Yet the Canadians displayed a strength of character and commitment to one another that is still evident today. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among the many dignitaries attending, along with 25,000 people including many students from Canada, one of whom was the daughter of Marion Bradnam from our Buffalo office, Emma, who made the trip to the Vimy Memorial in France to honour the Canadians who died in the fighting.

By Debbie McGuire, Manager – Freight Solutions (Head Office)

     Francis Patrick Burke
  Debbie McGuire’s grandfather –
Francis Patrick Burke

I am honoured to have a personal connection to the Vimy Memorial in France.  My paternal grandfather enlisted in August of 1915 at the young age of 15 with the Peterborough 33 Battery, Royal Canadian Field Artillery, as a gunner, and was on active duty in France before his 16th birthday.  He also fought at Ypres, Belgium, where the mud on the battlefield was so bad that the artillery would get stuck.  They often used their canned corned beef rations to put under the wheels of the artillery, in order to pull them from the mire.

While on active duty, my grandfather’s pay from the army was $15.00 per month, not much of a sum in today’s economy.  He was discharged from the Canadian Expeditionary Force on May 29, 1919, after 4 years of service.  His family was one of the lucky ones who were able to welcome their son home after the war, as many of his friends did not return.

After his discharge, my grandfather worked tirelessly with the Legion to improve the lives of Veterans of both World Wars, and in 1971, posthumously, had a room at the Peterborough Legion dedicated to him called the “Paddy Burke Memorial Auditorium”.

My grandfather did not talk much about his experiences overseas with his family, only towards the end of his years did he share some stories.  He passed when I was 18 months old and although I was not fortunate enough to truly know him, I am grateful for his service and the loss of his childhood in order to fight for the freedoms we have today.

Air Canada Spring Celebration

     Air Canada Spring Celebration
  Stephen Hatton, Veena Ramesh & Oswaldo Arteaga at the Air Canada Spring Celebration event

On April 11, 2017, members of our Toronto Airport team, Stephen Hatton, Veena Ramesh and Oswaldo Arteaga attended Air Canada’s Spring 2017 Celebration event, held at The Vue in Toronto.

Air Canada hosted this event to honour their valued cargo clients who were greeted with a buffet, as well as to further promote the opening of nine new routes.

This event provided Stephen, Veena and Oswaldo with the opportunity to finally meet the Air Canada sales team, Tony Sammartino, Tina Magistrale and Giosi Nizzolla whom they deal with on the daily basis.  The Air Canada team is based in Montreal and up until now, our team had only communicated via email with Tina and Giosi.

Air Canada held a similar event in December 2016, where we had the opportunity to meet Tony Sammartino, Manager, Small & Medium Business.  Tony visited our Airport branch office a few days later and brought a gift basket full of treats, which was shared among the Airport team.

WOW! – New Business Win – Penguin Random House
Canada Limited

Winning new business can be a lot like being out on the lake fishing all day without ever getting a single bite – when you land a big one it’s time to celebrate – at least until you cast your line again!

After almost 3 years of pursuit and with a great team effort by Mark Glionna, Brian Rowe, Chris Cartan, John Leis, Grace Barnard and Chris Barnard, we were successful in re-securing the Canadian and U.S. customs brokerage business for Penguin Random House Canada Limited (PRH).
Not only does this represent a valuable new piece of business, it also highlights that Universal can compete successfully with the likes of Livingston, who are recognized as one of the top performing Canadian customs brokers, from whom we took this business.  This win also validates our position as the logistics specialist for the book industry and, more importantly, contributes to the overall success of our company and employees.

Time to bait our hook again!

Employee Pension Plan (DPSP Plan)

They say there are few, if any, more hated rituals than having to file your annual tax return.  Hopefully, everyone is now completely stress free having filed their tax returns by the April 30th deadline!  While you now will not have to worry about this tedious task for another year, it is also a good time to think about or review your plans for not only tax savings options for this year (as there is no doubt we are all in agreement about hating to pay taxes), but also planning for your eventual retirement.

In June 2011, a significant enhancement to Universal’s Canadian Employee Benefit Plan was made by introducing a new program, the Deferred Profit Sharing Plan (DPSP), which will help to supplement the Canadian Government Pension Plan payments we will receive in retirement.

What is a DPSP?

  • An employer sponsored retirement savings plan administrated by our service provider, Manulife, and registered as a trust with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
  • Each pay, Universal automatically makes a contribution of 3% based on the employee’s salary directly to their individual DPSP plan.
  • DPSPs are intended as long term investments for your retirement savings.
  • Employee contributions to a DPSP are not permitted by the CRA.
  • Employees do not pay income tax on DPSP contributions until funds are withdrawn.
  • Employees have control over the investment choices and should visit Manulife’s web site to view the options available for the investment of your DPSP.
  • After 2 years of employment, DPSPs are fully vested (you own 100%) and belong to the employee.
  • Upon termination of employment, provided the DPSP is fully vested (2 years employment), the employee has the option of receiving a lump sum payment (income is fully taxed), transfer funds to an RRSP, RPP, RRIF or another DPSP.

Year over year Universal’s contributions will increase your DPSP account balance but in addition, you also have the option to further increase your retirement savings by making your own contributions to your retirement plan by taking advantage of contributing to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).

Universal provides an RRSP and a TFSA (Tax-Free Savings Account) Group Plan in Canada whereby you can set up an automatic withdrawal amount in either a set dollar amount or a % of your salary each pay.  This way you never have to worry about remembering to make the contributions or about trying to come up with a large contribution amount for your RRSP at the end of the year.  The benefit of doing this each pay is you get the tax break now instead of the tax people keeping your money and refunding you on your tax return.

A few important things to consider:

  • Start as early as you can!
    When asked what piece of advice they would offer their younger self, retirees almost always say they should have started earlier and saved more.  The simple fact is that WHEN you start saving outweighs how much you save.
  • Contribute what you can!
    There are always a lot of things competing for your money, which make it very difficult to find extra money to save for your retirement.  It may seem like it’s not worth it, but even small contributions of $25.00 – $100.00 per month add up over time.
  • Start saving and don’t stop!
    The sheer act of consistently saving over time is the single most powerful step toward financial security.  Start small, 1 or 2% of your salary and then increase by 1 or 2 % each year, and in a few years you will start to see how quickly your savings can grow.
  • The Magic of Compound Interest!
    Not only are you getting interest on your initial investment, but you are getting interest on top of interest and the magic ingredient that makes compound interest work best is time.

IT Corner

How to shut down your PC

Thunderstorm season is approaching and with it the likelihood of power outages.  When power is restored, the surge that occurs could damage your PC if it is left on.  In order to protect our equipment, please ensure you shut down your PC and turn off your monitor before leaving for the day.

To shut down your PC, please proceed as follows:

Here are a few clues:

  • Go to the Start Menu Power button
  • Click on the ‘Power’ button  Power button
  • Choose ‘Shut Down’
  • Turn off the monitor.

Please contact the IT team if you have any questions or concerns about this.

Calling all Universal Employees!

We are looking for volunteers to contribute short articles to Universal & You.  Topics can be team or industry-related or you might want to share a personal experience (e.g. volunteer work or travel) with your fellow employees.

Please forward your ideas to Tina Scharnberg.

  April 2017

Universal & You is produced bi-monthly for the employees of Universal Logistics. Reader comment and story ideas are welcome. Comments of general interest to all Universal & You 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.

Universal & You is produced by Universal Logistics, Editor: Sharon Fong, 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.

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