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January 2022

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President’s Message

     Michael Glionna
  Michael Glionna, President

A belated Happy New Year to all!

Looking back on the year just ended, I think we can all agree, 2021 was a year that tested all of us in a way we had never experienced before.  It seemed like a number of significant challenges were thrown at us all at once, not only in managing our own personal lives, but in navigating our work lives as well.

First, we were faced with another 12 months of this horrible pandemic which, just as we thought it was losing momentum, re-emerged with aggressive new variants that continued to threaten our personal health and safety.  Again, we were unable to gather in person for some relaxed and fun social time together at our summer family event or Christmas season events which our employees and families have come to enjoy over many years.

At the same time, our daily work life was upended with a severely disrupted supply chain.  There was a serious capacity shortage in finding space to move goods; there was unprecedented port congestion and jammed receiving terminals; and these trying conditions were magnified with strike threats, severe flooding and freight rates which escalated to record highs.

As a logistics middleman, we had to serve as the face of bad news to our clients.  It was our task to tell them by phone or by email… “we can’t get you space”, “your freight has been bumped” or “your shipment is delayed”.  On top of that, it was our company name and logo at the top of the invoice which showed that their freight rates were now 3 or 4 times higher than normal, and extra charges applied at destination.  It was very taxing for all of us to manage this uncertainty for our clients, and guide them through such challenging times in global shipping.

The year 2021 also saw unprecedented staff turnover at Universal, something our company had not experienced in decades.  We had 15 employees leave and we added 22 new individuals to our employee group, all within a very short time frame.  This meant our Managers and Team Leaders were very busy interviewing, hiring, onboarding and training, activities that certainly caused stress and disruption in the operation.

However, despite all of this adversity, you rose to the challenge and banded together as a highly effective and productive team.  You negotiated space and rates with our partners and carriers; you came up with creative routing solutions for our clients; and you made sure their goods were cleared and delivered in full compliance with all regulations.  You recruited a very promising and talented group of new employees and welcomed them openly into the company.  All the while, you maintained the high standard of ethics that we pride ourselves on, in keeping with our family values approach to doing business.

As a group, you also took time out of a very busy personal and work schedule to give back to the community so generously.  Together you raised over $26,400 for Hockey Helps the Homeless and their beneficiary outreach organizations, 360Kids and Blue Door.  It was the most we have ever raised since introducing our HHTH fundraising campaign five years ago.  The selfless way you have represented our company in the community makes us ever so proud.

We are also very proud of the financial results achieved by our team last year.  I am pleased to report that we had revenue growth in every business unit, in both our Canadian and US operations.  It was in fact the highest overall revenue year in our company’s 72-year history.  This result is most gratifying and rewarding, knowing how challenging the past two years have been for everyone in their personal and professional lives.

From the global pandemic, we have learned resilience, creativity and flexibility in how we can persevere to get the job done.  We have become more automated and found new ways to perform our work.  With a severely disrupted supply chain, our role as a logistics service provider has been elevated.  Our clients need us more than ever to navigate this complex shipping environment.  They clearly see the value of our services and our professional, personalized approach.  Through these most challenging times, we have stood by our clients and we have gained their confidence and trust for the future.

As we embark on this new year, we have expanded our workforce, adding a number of new employees with fresh ideas and a very positive energy.  Three example-setting Managers, Debbie McGuire, David Lychek and Janice Ilkay, have been promoted into well-earned Director positions, joining a strong senior leadership team.  We are extremely fortunate to have the most talented and committed group of employees in the industry.  And, we want each of you to have the opportunity to continue to learn and develop your careers at the company.

In 2022, we will continue to focus on employee engagement as we want Universal to be the place where you choose to work.  Our commitment is to provide education and mentoring as well as opportunities for you to get involved with the company beyond your daily role.  Taking advantage of the work-from-home experience gained during the pandemic, we will be introducing a hybrid working arrangement which we hope will provide a better work-life balance that can enhance your personal health and wellness.  And, once the pandemic restrictions are finally lifted, we very much look forward to holding our traditional company events for you and your families.  It will be most refreshing to enjoy some fun social time together again!

On behalf of myself and my brothers, Dave, Mark and Paul, I thank each one of you for your contribution to our great success in 2021, and for your continued dedication to our company.  Both personally and professionally, I wish each of you the very best for this New Year!

Michael Glionna, President
Michael Glionna, President

Holiday Wrap-Up

While, for the second year in a row, we were not able to celebrate the Christmas season with our traditional Children’s and Company parties, we once again spread Holiday Cheer with Gingerbread and catered lunches.

We started off by offering Gingerbread Kits to each child of our Universal employees – a big hit!  The Events Committee organized and distributed all kits of fantastic quality gingerbread which were provided by Parties Made Simple.  Check out some of the creative masterpieces below.

Alice Yan    Raj Aadur

Alice Yan

  Raj Aadur
Amir Shaukat    

Amir Shaukat

  The Leis children’s gingerbread creations

On December 17th we had our 2nd annual catered Christmas Luncheon at all Universal office locations.  Everyone enjoyed a great meal and non-alcoholic drinks.  Head Office employees had a great time selecting the winners of the Ugly Christmas Sweater contest, Philip Lee, and Decorate your Cubicle contest, Monserrat Vazquez and Mandy Chan.

Festivities at Head Office

Festivities at Head Office

As is tradition, Michael Glionna recognized our 6 Milestone recipients at the Luncheon and the branch offices zoomed in to view the festivities.  The Universal employees reaching major milestones in 2021 were Bonnie Moore (40 years), Claudia Di Giorgio (25 years), Brenda Munroe (20 years), Debbie D’Ornellas (20 years), William Sanchez (15 years) and Rita Yau (15 years).  Congratulations again to Bonnie, Claudia, Brenda, Debbie, William and Rita!

Santa Brenda 2021

Santa Brenda

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

Something’s Brewing
Contributor: Alice Yan

Fun Facts about January & February

Every new year brings new hopes and promises.  It also gives us opportunities to explore our life.  Here are some fun facts about January and February that are not well known by everyone.  Hopefully, they can light up the start of your new year.



Birthstone, Birth Flower
January’s birthstone – Garnet is thought to keep the wearer safe during travel.  January’s birth flowers are carnation and snowdrop.

February’s birthstone – Amethyst is said to strengthen relationships and give its wearer courage.  February’s birth flowers are violet and primrose.




The Zodiac
Capricorn: (12.22 – 1.19)  You are the achievers of the Zodiac.  You are extremely responsible and can be counted upon to do what you say you will.  Friends trust you and they come to see you with their questions, as you always have the answers.

Aquarius: (1.20 – 2.19)  You are the innovators of the Zodiac.  Freedom is extremely important to you.  You are destined to bring the world new ways of doing and looking at things.  You have many friends and you are conversant in an abundance of topics.

Pisces: (2.20 – 3.20) You are unique among the signs of the Zodiac.  You are acknowledged and admired.  As you are always open to the influence of others, you need regularly scheduled alone time.  Just remember that you are brimming with potential.

Please click: for facts about all 12 Zodiac signs.



Shopping Tips
Everyone loves a bargain.  Did you know that Canada has a yearly sales cycle?  Every retail store will have specific items on sale each month of the year.  Here are some of the major sales in January and February so you can strategize your buys:

January:  Fitness equipment; Cold weather clothing; Linens & Bedding; Carpeting & Flooring; Indoor Furniture; Small appliances and holiday clearance items.  Grocery shopping tip:  Save on booze.

February:  Televisions & Home Theaters (before the Superbowl); Jewelry; Cameras & Digital Cameras and Chocolates & Candy (after Valentine’s Day).  Grocery shopping tip:  Save on canned goods.

To access the full yearly sales cycle, please click:

 In celebration of Valentine’s Day, which English poet wrote the sonnet that includes the famous line, “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways”?

A. Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
B. Lord George Gordon Byron (1788–1824)
C. William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

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

Submission deadline
Friday, February 4, 2022 (Noon)

$25 Tim Hortons, Starbucks or Amazon gift card for the 2 winners
(If more than two contestants have the right answer, we will pick the winning names out of a hat)

Kudos Corner

Kudos Corner

Kudos (Noun) – Praise & honour received for an achievement

Kudos Corner is a forum where Universal employees can recognize the efforts of their co-workers.  Bring forward candidates for Kudos Corner at your next Team Meeting or simply drop your Manager a line whenever you feel someone’s efforts should be recognized in Universal & You.

For this issue we received the following entry from John Leis of our Head Office Client Relations team:

“Please earmark Ashley Burgess of our US Customs Operations team for Kudos Corner.  Ashley was the driving force behind securing the STT (Storage & Transfer Technologies, Inc.) account due to the fine work he had done with the carrier (Kdex) in providing a US brokerage service worth promoting to their client base.  Ashley deserves recognition both for bringing the opportunity forward, but also for following up to determine that contact with this lead had been made.  He recognized both the urgency and opportunity.  His good work led to our Business Development team securing one of this year’s most significant pieces of U.S. and Canadian brokerage business.”

Employee Training and Development

Employee Training and Development

The Ignite Team will be announcing the 2022 Employee Training & Development program in mid-February.  In addition to our regular Canadian CSS Study Sessions and 3 Presentation topics, we look forward to announcing plans that centre around overall employee engagement and personal health and wellness.

Branch Spotlight – Fort Erie
Contributor: Chris Cartan

Peace Bridge

The Peace Bridge, connecting Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York

Universal’s Canadian branch office in Fort Erie, Ontario is led by one of our longest standing employees, Karen Murray, Office Manager, Fort Erie & Niagara Falls.  Karen and her team have always provided our clients with the highest level of service.  One of those clients is Rich Products Corporation.  Rich Products was established in 1945 and has offices that span the globe, but their international corporate headquarters are located in Buffalo, New York.  Just three miles away on the Canadian side of the border, are Rich Products’ sales headquarters for Canada.

Approximately 20 per cent of all commodities traded between Canada and the U.S. pass through Fort Erie via the Peace Bridge, which remains one of the most heavily travelled border crossings between Canada and the United States.

Fort Erie is made up of a number of “hamlets”, including Bridgeburg, Ridgeway, Crystal Beach, Stevensville and Douglastown/Black Creek and offers a rare combination of small town values with easy access to big city amenities.  The drive from Fort Erie to the city of Buffalo is only a few minutes and it takes less than two hours to drive to Toronto.  Fort Erie sits in the heart of the beautiful Niagara countryside which has some of the most outstanding natural resources in the area.  Residents enjoy access to walking trails, world-class golf courses, white sand beaches, ski slopes just an hour south in Western New York and a very friendly small-town ambiance.

Growing again

In Universal & You, we want to introduce all new employees.  We have new additions at Head Office and our Niagara Falls branch office.  Please join us in welcoming everyone to the team!

Daisy Nguyen            Mattia Saieva
Name: Daisy Nguyen
Team: Canadian Customs
            Operations – Head Office
Start date: November 29, 2021
  Name: Mattia Saieva
Team: Canadian Customs            Operations – Niagara Falls
Start date: November 29, 2021
Amy Park            Jheysson Sanchez
Name: Amy Park
Team: Customs Consulting
            Services – Head Office
Start date: January 4, 2022
  Name: Jheysson Sanchez
Team: Customs Consulting
            Services – Head Office
Start date: January 4, 2022
Susan Sok            Hannah Bui
Name: Susan Sok

Team: Customs Consulting             Services – Head Office
Start date: January 24, 2022
  Name: Hannah Bui
Team: Freight Solutions –

            Head Office
Start date: January 24, 2022

Book Buzz
Contributor: Barbara Mulatinho


One By One by Ruth Ware

One By One by Ruth Ware

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm.  But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness.  How many team members will be alive when Monday morning comes?

Culture and Entertainment
Contributor: Barbara Mulatinho

Get ready for Awards Season

Good news – awards season is right around the corner and, with that, new movies for us to set our sights on before the Oscars, the biggest award show of the season, happens on March 27th.


Tick Tick Boom

Tick Tick Boom
Available on Netflix

An American biographical musical drama, Tick Tick Boom is directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda in his feature directorial debut.  It is based on the stage musical of the same name by Jonathan Larson, a semi-autobiographical story about Larson’s writing a musical to enter the industry.

The film was well received by critics, named one of the best films of 2021 by the American Film Institute and was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the 79th Golden Globe Awards, and Best Picture at the 27th Critics’ Choice Awards.  Andrew Garfield earned numerous nominations for his performance, including winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.


The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog
Available on Netflix

An Australian Western psychological drama written and directed by Jane Campion, this movie deals with themes such as love, grief, resentment, jealousy and sexuality.  The Power of the Dog had its world premiere at the 78th Venice International Film Festival on September 2, 2021, where Campion won the Silver Lion for Best Direction.

The film received acclaim from critics, who praised Campion’s direction and screenplay, cinematography, score, and performances of the cast (particularly Benedict Cumberbatch and Kodi Smit-McPhee).  It was named one of the best films of 2021 by the American Film Institute, received seven nominations at the 79th Golden Globe Awards (winning three, including Best Motion Picture – Drama), and ten nominations at the 27th Critics’ Choice Awards, including Best Picture.


Being the Ricardos

Being the Ricardos
Available on Netflix

Being the Ricardos is a biographical drama written and directed by Aaron Sorkin about the relationship between I Love Lucy stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.  Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem star as Ball and Arnaz.  Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz dominated the 1950s as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, and their reign as TV’s funniest married couple lasted long after their I Love Lucy union had come to an end – thanks to reruns, an innovation of their production company, Desilu.  

Theirs is a story that has long held the public’s fascination.  The movie follows Lucy and Desi as they face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage.  The film received mixed reviews from critics, who praised Kidman’s performance and the dialogue.  For her performance, Kidman won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.

Health and Lifestyle
Contributor: Veena Ramesh

Life Hacks


Life Hacks

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of life hack is “a usually simple and clever tip or technique for accomplishing some familiar task more easily and efficiently”.  Below please find 6 proven life hacks that will make life easier and help save money as well.

  • Use hair conditioner as shaving cream.
  • Use dryer sheets as air fresheners – a particularly good tip for any athletes in the family.
  • Use Splenda sweetener or salt to stop a stain.
  • Use Hydrogen Peroxide as a miracle cleaner – empty 1/3 of the bottle of hydrogen peroxide, then fill it up with dishwashing liquid.  This can be used to clean food stains and dirty grout and mold.
  • Use lemon juice as a natural ingredient for whitening your clothes by adding ¼ to ½ cup of lemon juice in place of bleach to your wash cycle.
  • Don’t buy expensive cooking spray – buy a big jug of vegetable oil and fill up a clean spray bottle instead.

Also be sure to check out the following link for more essential life hacks:

IT Corner

IT Corner

How to detect CRA scams

It’s tax season and this is a popular time for scammers to try to get some money out of unsuspecting people.  They will use email, text or phone calls, some threatening, to get you to pay ‘taxes’ you owe.  It is important to be aware that the CRA will never do the following:

  • give or ask for personal or financial information by email and ask you to click on a link
  • email you a link asking you to fill in an online form with personal or financial details
  • send you an email with a link to your refund
  • demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others
  • threaten you with arrest or a prison sentence

If you receive an email, text or phone call similar to any of the above it’s a SCAM.  Here is a link to the CRA website with more information on this and what you should do if you suspect a SCAM.

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.

  January 2022

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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