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December 2016

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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.

New Year’s Resolutions

A very Happy New Year to All!

The new year is a great time for reflection.  Not only is one year coming to a close but another is starting all fresh and clean.  Oprah Winfrey sums it up perfectly, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”
January is the time when many people come up with lots of great ideas about things that should be different in their lives and often they are quite right.  These great plans of ours are called New Year’s Resolutions and the following is a list of the top 10 most common resolutions.

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend less
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Get in better shape
  6. Learn something new
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others achieve their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family

However, don’t despair if you don’t make good on your resolutions as you’ll be in good company.  A measly 10% of us will be successful in establishing new lifestyle habits.  On average, 43% of us will have abandoned our resolutions before January 15th, and 66% will be back to their old habits by February 1st – good luck falling in love!

New Year’s resolutions are a bit like babies: they are fun to make but extremely difficult to maintain.

To narrow the odds this year, try picking just one worthy resolution and stick with it.

Wishing everyone good health, happiness, and success in 2017! 

President’s Message

Looking back on the year just ended, I am confident in saying that 2016 was a year in which we invested heavily in our most valuable asset… you, our people.  We know Universal’s team of employees is the best in the industry and as such, it has always been important for us to ensure your level of job satisfaction not only meets, but exceeds expectations.

In January 2016 we started by conducting an Employee Survey to gauge the existing level of employee morale.  While overall results indicated a high ranking for Universal, your responses also highlighted some key areas where there was room for improvement:

  IT Systems
  Benefits Package
  Cross-Training Program & Promotion Opportunities
  Communication to all Employees

IT Systems
On the IT front, I think we made some very significant progress.  In February, we launched our new and improved web site covering both our Canadian and U.S. companies.  At the same time, we introduced UConnect to our clients, where they can access their shipment data, invoices and reports generated from our operating system.  Our electronic Document Management (DM) program was rolled out across all teams to ensure shipment documents are filed electronically with each transaction.  We have moved many of our clients on to E-Billing.  We continue to upgrade hardware and software on our desktops.  And most notably, we hired an IT Support person (Jerome Antolin) to alleviate the pressure from Janice Ilkay who single-handedly has been tasked with looking after all of Universal’s IT issues over many years.  Jerome has already made his presence felt in a very positive way, and we look forward to continued enhancements to our overall IT systems.

Benefits Package
We know that a strong Benefits Package is important to each of you.  In the coming months we are planning for Lunch ‘N Learn sessions to educate everyone on our current package so you will know exactly what is available to you and your families.  Our service provider, Dominion Group Benefits, will make the presentations and we look forward to your feedback on the existing features and suggestions for improvement… Stay tuned!

Cross-Training & Promotion Opportunities
At our Head Office and at our Toronto Airport Branch, we have initiated some formal Cross-Training programs and so far so good.  We understand that many of you are anxious to be trained in other areas of our business and this, in turn, will surely open up promotion opportunities in future.  Our senior management team will continue to promote cross-training and if you have a specific interest in participating, please don’t hesitate to talk to your manager.

Communication to all Employees
In December, we launched our new employee newsletter, Universal & You, and special thanks go out to Chris Barnard and Tina Scharnberg for all of their great work in getting this project off the ground.  We want to open the lines of communication in an informal way to ensure you know exactly what’s going on at Universal.  Hopefully you enjoyed our first issue (as well as the January 2017 issue you are reading right now!).  Please don’t hold back from suggesting or submitting articles of interest in future.  Your contributions are most welcome.

Employee Events
Last year, we also held 3 very successful employee events, starting with our Summer Zootopia at the Toronto Zoo on June 11th, where an amazing 175 employees and family members were in attendance.  In December, we held our Kids Christmas Party (97 Universal family members) and our Office Christmas Party (71 Universal employees – an 88% turnout rate!)… both of which received great reviews.  Clearly we have some excellent team spirit and our group gets along well socially!  Our Events Committee, led by Kenesha Gayle, should be commended for all of their efforts in bringing us together to enjoy such fun and well-attended events.

U.S. Expansion
Our 2016 year was capped off with the exciting announcement that we had acquired ICT Cleveland.  As of December 1st, we now have our own freight forwarding operation in Ohio which will serve as the perfect complement to our U.S. brokerage operation in Buffalo.  Once again, please join me in welcoming Suzi, Leianne, Pam and Ildi to the Universal team.  We are fortunate to have this talented and experienced group on board.  Our continued expansion into the U.S. is very healthy for our company as we commit to meeting the total logistics needs of our many clients.

Overall, in 2016 we added 9 new employees to our team in Canada, plus our new Cleveland team of 4, for a total of 13 new employees in the year – that’s an 18% growth in our employee base and I am now proud to say that Universal has 85 employees.  And, I will say it again – I would happily match our team of employees up against any other group in our industry, and I’m certain we would come out on top.  It’s a group that is hard working, conscientious, caring and committed to working together as a team to achieve great things.  The vibe I get in interacting with each of you is extremely positive – it’s fun for me to come to work each day.

So, I hope you see that we are listening to your feedback and we are working to improve the work environment at Universal in all areas.  2016 was indeed a year to invest in you, our most valuable asset.  We thank each one of you for your loyal commitment and please know that keeping you engaged and highly satisfied with your job will always be a top priority at Universal.

Having said all this, and knowing we are coming off yet another profitable year in 2016 (…that’s 68 consecutive profitable years and counting!), I have no doubt Universal is well-positioned for a very successful 2017.  Happy New Year to all!

The Trip of a Lifetime

By Ankita Bhavsar, Team Leader – Accounting Operations (Head Office)

     Toy Mountain

In November 2016, I visited Livingstone, Zambia (Africa) to volunteer at a school for children ranging in age from toddlers to first graders.  The children were from an underprivileged neighbourhood and I was there to help them with English and Math; they were the happiest group of kids I have ever met and I feel like they taught me more than I could ever teach them.

I was born in Zambia, which is the reason I chose to celebrate a milestone birthday by giving back to a community in the country where I was born.  My 2 week trip also provided me with the opportunity to explore my roots, visit with friends of my parents and experience the beauty that is Africa.


It was an extremely rewarding experience and truly the trip of a lifetime!

IT Corner

How to detect phishing emails

Phishing or spoofing emails are an attempt to get you to click on a link or open an attachment (usually a zip or locked file) with the intention of either obtaining information that you are asked to enter, or installing malicious software on your PC, such as ransomware.  Ransomware encrypts all files on your PC and if you are connected to a server (such as the G: drive), all the files on the server too.  You are then asked to send money to obtain a decryption key so you can get your files back.  Even if you have a back-up of your files, it is time consuming getting your PC back to normal.

We have all received them, but how do we tell if the email is legit?

Here are a few clues:

  • If the email asks you to click on a link and enter information it could be fake.  Most companies will not ask you to do that.  If you want to be sure, type the URL into your web browser, but do not click on the link in the email.
  • If you receive an email from someone you know but the message is generic and there is no salutation, be suspicious.
  • If you receive an email from “your system administrator” or “IT support” it is fake.  Do not open any attachments and do not click on the link to change your password, etc..  Universal’s IT team or Pathway would never send such requests.
  • Fake emails from FedEx or UPS are hard to detect, but if you were not expecting the email or if the attachment is a zip file or locked file chances are it is not real.
  • If you receive an email from someone you know with an attachment and they are vague about what the attachment is – such as “here are the documents you requested” – it may be fake.

In summary, just be careful opening attachments or clicking on links and if you are at all uncertain, forward the email to and we will verify it for you.

Holiday Party Wrap-Up

     Children's Christmas Party
  Children’s Christmas Party

Universal Logistics’ annual Christmas parties were, once again, a great success.

The fun began with the Children’s Christmas Party, held at the Thornhill Community Centre on December 11th.  The great crowd on hand enjoyed a pizza lunch, desserts, skating and a visit from Hands on Exotics

The kangaroo and other wild rescue animals were a big hit with everyone.  Also spotted was Santa Claus who took some time out of his busy schedule to attend this very special event.

Just a few days later, on December 16th, the fun continued at the Office Christmas Party which was held at a new venue, Stonefire Bar and Grill.  This year also marked the first time that this event was held on a Friday evening!  Universal had booked the entire restaurant for the event which featured party games by Games Master John Leis, service award presentations by Michael Glionna, and music and dancing after the formal sit down dinner.

Christmas Party
Office Christmas Party

Universal’s success is based on the skill, commitment and loyalty of our employees and the Christmas Party is the perfect opportunity to recognize and celebrate our coworkers.  The Universal employees reaching major milestones this year were Claudia DiGiorgio (20 years); Deborah D’Ornellas (15 years); Michelle Finley (15 years) and Brenda Munroe (15 years).  Congratulatoins again to each of you!

At the event, Michael Glionna also recognized Sharon Pritchard who had announced she would be retiring on December 30th after 16 years of working at our Windsor office.  Our best wishes to Sharon on her well deserved retirement.  She will be missed by all.

Santa Brenda
Toy Mountain – Santa Brenda

The Office Christmas Party attracted strong attendance from all Universal offices and it appears that the decision to move to a new location and night was a big hit!

We would also like to thank everyone for their generous donations to Toy Mountain and the Vaughan Food Bank.

To view the full library of photos from our two Christmas events, please visit the shared “2016 Christmas Events Photos” folder on our server (G: Drive).

  January 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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