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January 2019

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President’s Message

     Michael Glionna
  Michael Glionna, President

Happy belated New Year to all!

In looking back on our 2018 year, I identified a number of indicators that our company is continuing to grow and prosper.  It was another very successful and profitable year for Universal Logistics, in both Canada and the U.S..  We increased our revenues, we continue to add more people to the Universal team – expanding by 5 employees in Canada, and by 1 in the U.S. – and we are in very healthy financial shape.

While there were many positive accomplishments for us in 2018, I found there were two big highlights that really stood out for me.  The first one, is that we finally established a clear and powerful Corporate USP.  Our USP is our “Unique Selling Point”.  It is what sets us apart from the competition and allows us to be successful.  You want to be able to articulate your corporate USP in just 10 or 15 seconds. 

They call it the Elevator Test.  You’re on an elevator with someone and they ask you what makes your company different from the rest.  You need to be able to tell them before you get off the elevator.  Well, for many years, we always felt we knew what made us unique and successful, but we had a difficult time articulating it clearly and succinctly.  After countless meetings and brainstorming, our Marketing Team finally locked in our Corporate USP:

Innovative Logistics Solutions – Traditional Family Values

All the big logistics competitors like Livingston, FedEx and Schenker, have the most state-of-the-art and innovative logistics solutions.  Smaller competitors can say they are a family business and provide quality, personal service.  But very few companies in our industry can genuinely say they do both at the same time.  That is, except for Universal Logistics!  We provide Innovative Logistics Solutions:

  • Customs, Freight, Distribution
  • In Canada and the U.S.
  • Imports, Exports
  • Ocean, Air, Truck
  • … And we provide all of these services with an extra layer of attention, beyond the regular freight and clearance functions.  This extra layer is very unique in our industry.  We do it with a focused Client Care program where each client has their own personal Client Relations rep.  We have a skilled Customs Consulting team who ensure our clients remain compliant before and after clearance.  And we have a Freight Solutions team who manage each freight move from purchase order right through to final delivery.

And of course we deliver all of these innovative logistics solutions while staying true to our Traditional Family Values:

  • Trust
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • We have long-standing, devoted employees who care as if it were their own family business, who go the extra mile wanting to exceed our clients’ expectations
  • Our clients and our employees always have direct access to the 4 owners who are present and actively involved.  We are a family business, but it goes well beyond us 4 brothers and extends to the entire Universal family of employees.

Having established our Corporate USP, we then updated our web site to reflect the messaging throughout.  We are now in the process of producing videos to support our USP, which we will share with you in the coming months.  So, we are finally able to articulate to prospects, clients, friends and strangers alike, exactly what makes us stand out from the competition.  And, our Business Development team is already experiencing new sales success as a result!

The second big highlight of the 2018 year for me extends from the idea of honouring our traditional family values, and that is our commitment, as a team, to give back to the community.  Our Hockey Helps the Homeless Fundraising Campaign was the crowning event of our year.  You, our employee group, raised an incredible $18,616.94, completely shattering our $10,000 employee team goal. 

All 6 fundraising teams battled throughout the 2-month campaign right to the final whistle, and each team exceeded their $1,500 team goal.  There were bake sales, 50/50 draws, golf and restaurant gift certificate raffles.  The Airport team became Canada’s most successful Krispy Kreme donut salespeople.  Your creativity and teamwork were on full display.

Congratulations again to Captain Janice Ilkay, Assistant Captain William Sanchez and the entire Universal Flames team for finishing at the top of the heap, raising a phenomenal $3,868!  And individually, so many of you excelled beyond expectations.  Thirty of our employees raised over $150, 27 raised over $200 and 19 raised over $250.  I suspect HHTH BBQ tools and sweatshirts were popular Christmas gifts last year!  And, with all the extra vacation days earned, we might not see many of you at the office this New Year! 

Congrats also to Debbie McGuire who won the Early Game Changer prize – a custom-made Muskoka Sports Chair.  And of course we must congratulate Grand Prize winner William Sanchez who won the Leafs tickets and a $200 gift card for a night out to watch the best team in hockey.  I know William left that game on December 29th finally converted to a Leafs fan after too many years supporting those dreaded Montreal Canadiens.

Finally, I would again like to recognize our top 3 fundraisers, each of whom exceeded the $1,000 mark:

  • Brian Rowe raised $1,300 and his secret was tapping into the generosity of his American dog-show competition friends by placing his own ad on
  • Oswaldo Arteaga raised $1,595 by working in concert with his Muay Thai mixed martial arts group, and putting on a seminar and free kids private lessons with all proceeds going to HHTH
  • Janice Ilkay topped the charts by raising $1,655.  Apparently Janice has a very large and generous family who donated from across the country in full support of our campaign.

Overall, it was amazing teamwork, creativity and generosity displayed by all of you.  And I think everyone had some good fun along the way too, including at our staff Christmas Party where our Games Master put your HHTH teams to the test once again.  Best of all, this initiative allowed us to give back to our community and assist those less fortunate.  You made us very proud on how well our company was represented.

With these two main highlights in 2018… with our newly defined corporate USP, and with our fundraising campaign as another shining example of how the Universal team can work together – as a family – to reach a common goal, we are certainly well positioned as a company to have another great year in 2019!

And remember, 2019 will be our 70th year in business.  This is indeed a tremendous and proud achievement for Universal, and all of you will be a big part of this milestone year.

Michael Glionna, President
Michael Glionna, President

Holiday Party Wrap-Up

Universal Logistics’ annual Christmas parties were, once again, a great success.  Party season began on December 9th with the Children’s Christmas Party, held at the Thornhill Community Centre.  The great crowd on hand enjoyed a pizza lunch, desserts, skating, and some chocolate-making fun with Chocolate Tales.

Children’s Christmas Party
2018 Children’s Christmas Party

Also spotted was Santa Claus who took some time out of his busy schedule to attend this very special event and entertained everyone with stories and of course, had gifts for all children in attendance.

Just a few days later, on December 14th, the fun continued at the Office Christmas Party which was once again held at Stonefire Bar and Grill.  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 & dancing after the formal sit down dinner.

Office Christmas Party
Office Christmas Party
2018 Office Christmas Party
2018 Toy Mountain – Santa Brenda Munroe

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 Louis Valencourt (40 years), Rick Evans (40 years), Maggie Gragasin (25 years) and Jon Barnard (20 years).

Congratulations again Louis, Rick, Maggie and Jon!

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



Something’s Brewing

There is a mysterious speech bubble over top of Michael’s head in this photo. We must fill it in!

What was he saying to Maggie at the Christmas party?

(Click on the question above, submit your answer to Phoebe, and you’re eligible to win!)

Submission deadline
February 8, 2019 (Friday) noon

$25 Tim Hortons or Starbucks gift card for the most creative response.

Global Work Force

     Global Work Force

When it comes to truly global cities, Toronto ranks at the top of the list with media reports declaring it as the most multicultural city in the world and home to people from over 230 different nationalities. 

Therefore it should come as no surprise, Universal’s employees also reflect this great diversity in representing 19 countries and 20 different spoken languages.

Just as Toronto celebrates and genuinely embraces the diversity of its vibrant multicultural population, Universal is very proud of our employees’ multicultural backgrounds.  Also very fitting since our business is providing international logistics services.

Dealing with clients, shippers, vendors and partners from many other countries can present challenges.  People from different countries bring unique skills along with them and it is a great benefit having a team who have come from all over the world and are able to communicate with our clients and worldwide partners in their own languages.

Multicultural businesses often have an edge dealing with clients from other cultures by having their own multi-cultural employees.  People from different cultures see the world in different ways and we benefit from having worldwide (and world-class) talent which provides a great resource for “how to” advice on cross-cultural communication.

One huge benefit not overlooked is, Head Office’s annual holiday celebration Pot Luck luncheon where we get to taste some of the best foods from around the globe without ever needing to get on a plane!

Financial Tip

2019 Financial Goals

     3 Financial Tips

As they say, if you never have an end in mind you’ll never get to where you want to be.  Nothing could be more true when it comes to setting your financial goals for the new year. 

From countless surveys and polls we know money is one of the biggest contributors to adding stress in our lives.  Don’t ignore it, reduce your anxiety levels by taking back control and the best approach is always to keep it simple!

1) Get Out of Debt

  • Start by paying off in order of debt with the highest interest rate.
  • Track your expenses for a two month period and after deducting your net monthly income, see what the remainder is – use this to pay off debt.
  • If there is monthly deficit, look at ways to cut back on unnecessary expenses.
  • Examine recurring expenses as virtually every one of them can be reduced and the cash used for debt repayment.

2) Establish an Emergency Fund

  • Prepare yourself for unplanned expenses that life inevitably throws your way.
  • Build up your emergency fund to cover at least 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses.
  • Set up preauthorized transfers through your bank to a high interest savings account.
  • Small regular amounts make the job seem manageable and add up quickly.

3) Save for Retirement

  • Use a TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) or a RRSP but the most important factor is not the amount but to start savings regularly and as early as possible.
  • Time is only your friend when you’re young!

IT Corner

Correct use of “Reply to all”

When replying to email with many recipients do not automatically ‘reply to all’. Consider whether all the recipients should/would need to see the reply. There may be sensitive information in the email thread that should not be sent to all recipients.

‘Reply to all’ should never be used when you are just saying thanks.

When responding to an email that was sent to, never use ‘reply to all’. Only the sender needs to see your response.

Business Quote

Albert Einstein, one of the most significant scientific geniuses of the 20th century, has been accredited with this quote, but so have two other brainiacs Ben Franklin and Mark Twain.

No matter who actually said it, it is still a great one which is so true in the business world.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.

This begs the question, as a valued member of the Universal Team, what can you do differently to make a difference by helping Universal increase revenues, reduce costs and improve team efficiencies?

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 Phoebe Shum.

  January 2019

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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