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July 2020

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Workplace Policy & Guidelines

We are now two weeks into our Return-To-Workplace plan at Universal’s head office.  Our Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Workplace Policy & Guidelines have been formally introduced to all employees and will be updated on an ongoing basis as required.  Employee health and safety has been and remains our top priority.  If you have not done so, please carefully review the Policy document, which can be found in the Employee Guidelines, Benefits & Information folder on the G Drive.

As you know, our head office has been outfitted according to the Policy document and branch offices are following suit.

It is important to note that you are responsible for taking reasonable care to protect your own health and safety, as well as that of your fellow employees in the office.

Following are a few highlights:

Health Self-Assessment Checklist
It is important that you utilize the Health Self-Assessment Checklist to help guide your daily evaluation on your health each morning.   If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, DO NOT come to the office and immediately notify your manager for direction.  For more information, please review “Appendix C: Health Self-Assessment Checklist” of our Policy.

COVID-19 Health Self-Assessment Checklist

Effective cleaning and hygiene practices
The virus can spread if you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your face.  Frequent handwashing and good hygiene practices are essential to reduce the spread of the virus (see handwashing demonstration video below).

Signage has been posted throughout head office to reinforce policies and guidelines.  All shared work areas also have hand sanitizer, disinfectant sprays/wipes and paper towels available for you to clean and disinfect all common surfaces.

COVID-19 signage
Please Don’t Stand in Aisles signage

We ask that you to follow the proper hygiene and cleaning protocols listed in the Company Policy.  Please review the third sub-heading under Policy Elements, “General Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection”.

Physical distancing & wearing masks
You are required to maintain a physical distance (2 metres) from others at all times while at the office.  In cases where physical distancing is not possible or when you are leaving your workstation, you are required to wear a face mask in the office.  Masks can offer protection by preventing the spread of droplets from the wearer to others around them.  A limited supply of masks will be available for employees upon request through Administration.  For information on how to handle a mask properly, please review “Appendix D – Proper Face Mask Procedures” of our Policy.

Let’s all do our part and keep everyone healthy and safe!

Employee Training and Development
Contributors: Ignite Team

Employee Training and Development

Over the past few months, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, each and every one of our teams continues to go to great lengths to keep our clients enlightened and informed (for which we have received phenomenal client feedback, thanks to you).  Now let’s take that momentum and turn inward to educate ourselves, our teams and resume our 2020 Employee Training and Development Program.

Educating Ourselves
Learning has no age limit – employees can apply for professional courses to increase education qualifications in ways that enhance performance.  

From the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers (CSCB), Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) or the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters (I.E. Canada), to name a few, a vast number of continuing education courses and webinars are available across a variety of subjects in order to enhance our skill levels.  See your Manager for more information on any of these association courses and webinars available.

Whether it’s formal coursework or just informally reading industry blogs, web sites and articles, we can gather information which will aid in our daily tasks and also enhance our understanding of any given topic.

There’s an old adage that goes “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” which certainly holds true.  Rather than being unsure of a topic or task, ask questions of your direct report, team members and especially of our senior Managers and Directors.  Unlike other companies, Universal has always had an open door policy and taking a few minutes to pick a brain or quiz the whiz will certainly be invaluable.

Educating Team Members
The wonders of the virtual world are not hidden anymore as the use of video conferencing, once the exception, has become the norm in how we engage externally with our clients and internally within our teams.

In addition to the “Client Service Experience – Manager’s Tip” we will also be developing a program for Managers and Team Leaders to hold training sessions to teach company-specific skills within our own teams and also to other teams across the company.  These sessions will provide additional training on team tasks, cross-training for versatility, and learning the ins and outs of ITMR4, Smartborder and our I.T. functionality and capabilities.

Employee Training and Development Program
We kicked off this year’s schedule with the review of the CCS Quiz 2 (led by Oswaldo Arteaga and Ivy Woo) to rave reviews – thanks Oswaldo and Ivy for a great session!

The balance of this year’s schedule includes training sessions on Microsoft Outlook Email, Client Service Experience and US Customs & Freight 101, along with study sessions for CCS designates, employees currently enrolled in the CCS course and other employees looking to enhance their general customs knowledge.  In addition, training sessions will be provided on Use of Microsoft Excel and IMTR4 (Canada and US).

2020 Schedule Review

  • Wednesday February 26th: Use of Microsoft Outlook Email (Session 1: Head Office) –  completed
  • Thursday February 27th: Use of Microsoft Outlook Email (Session 2: Branches – video conference) – completed
  • Wednesday March 18th: Review of CCS Quiz 1 – cancelled
  • Wednesday April 22nd: Client Service Experience – to be rescheduled
  • Wednesday June 24th: Review of CCS Quiz 2 –  completed
  • Wednesday September 23rd: US Customs & Freight 101
  • Wednesday October 28th: Review of CCS Quiz 3
  • Wednesday December 2nd: Review of CCS Quiz 4

Training Sessions(Training sessions are open to all Canadian and US employees)
Topic: US Customs & Freight 101
Session Overview: In this interactive session, we will present a general overview of our US Customs and Freight operations.  Prior to this session, we will ask attendees to submit questions, which will be answered by the hosts.
Hosts: Brian Rowe, Marion Bradnam, Dave Lychek and Vickey Ison
Date: Wednesday September 23rd
Time: 10:30 am to 11:30 am

Topic: Client Service Experience
Session Overview: Superior client service is crucial to the success of any company.  This is why proper customer service training can help deliver a long-term increase in sales and customer loyalty.  In this session, you will be provided with tips to create a positive customer/client experience.
Hosts: John Leis, Debbie McGuire and Chris Cartan
Date: Wednesday October 28th
Time: 10:30 am to 11:30 am

Study Sessions – Canadian Customs
For CCS Designates, employees currently enrolled in the CCS course and other employees looking to enhance their customs knowledge, we will hold study groups to review course materials and answer questions before the due date of each CCS quiz. 

Study Session 3: Review of CCS Quiz
Session Overview: Review of CCS Quiz 3: Distributed Thursday October 15th; Due for completion Thursday November 5th
Hosts: Oswaldo Arteaga and Ivy Woo
Date: Wednesday October 28th
Time: 10:30 am to 11:30 am

Study Session 4: Review of CCS Quiz
Session Overview: Review of CCS Quiz 4: Distributed Thursday November 19th; Due for completion Thursday December 3rd
Hosts: Oswaldo Arteaga and Ivy Woo
Date: Wednesday December 2nd
Time: 10:30 am to 11:30 am

Additional Training Sessions
Based on feedback from our Employee Training and Development Survey, the Ignite and Information Technology Teams will work with Team Managers to coordinate training on the following:

  • Use of Microsoft Excel
  • ITMR4 (Canada and US)

The dates and times for these sessions will be set up by your Manager.

Session Registration
Prior to each training session or study group, all employees will receive an email with registration details.

Where Will Training Be Held?
Due to current social distancing requirements, training sessions will be held by video conferencing – after all, we’re getting really good at it.

An Act of Kindness during Difficult Times
Contributor: Lisa Fertita

During these difficult times it’s always uplifting to read positive stories and we have a wonderful one involving Christine Gebera from our Buffalo Office.  Christine and her husband Dennis are preparing for the arrival of Zhenya, a 16-year-old Ukrainian orphan.  They will welcome Zhenya to the Gebera-Kessinger family’s Buffalo home for the fourth time. This will be Zhenya’s second summer visit plus two previous Christmas holidays visits.


Zhenya lives at a boarding school/orphanage with 300 other orphans in Berdyansk, a Ukrainian port city on the Azov Sea.  It’ll be a long trip to Buffalo as Berdyansk is located 8205 kilometers away.  Zhenya loves animals and also enjoys cooking.  When he is older he would like to become a gym teacher or do something sports related.

Christine says Zhenya is pretty much like any typical teenager – he loves to eat, play video games, and ride his bike!  However he is still very helpful around the house and loves playing with her pets.

Christine and Dennis are hoping to be able to adopt Zhenya at some point, yet this is a long process and further complicated by the temporary closure of the Ukrainian Government offices due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  Although the adoption is currently on hold, in the meantime, they are still very much looking forward to spending another wonderful summer with Zhenya.

  Zhenya (Right) proudly wearing his Universal Logistics sweatshirt on a field trip in Ukraine

For more information on Ukrainian orphan adoptions please contact Christine Gebera or Lisa Fertita.  Click here to visit Zhenya’s boarding school site.

Tips to Protect Your Skin This Summer
Contributor: Crystal Thongmanivong

Summer - skin protection

As we begin to see warmer weather, it is important to protect the largest organ of our body, our SKIN!  Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause skin damage in as little as 15 minutes.  Prolonged exposure and damage can lead to various forms of skin cancer, many of which, thankfully, are preventable.

7 tips to help protect your skin this summer:

  1. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  This is when the sun is most intense and produces the greatest chance of sunburn.  If you must be outside during these hours, seek shade by using an umbrella, a tree or other types of shelter.  Use protective clothing and sunscreen even when in the shade.
  2. Use sunscreen when outdoors.  Higher SPF numbers indicate increased protection.  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using at least SPF 30.  Use sunscreen even on cloudy or cool days as damage from the sun rays can still occur.  Re-apply every two hours or after swimming or when sweating.  In addition, check the expiration date – shelf life is typically three years, less if it has been stored in high temperatures.
  3. Wear protective gear.  Proper, protective sunglasses help prevent damage to the sensitive skin around your eyes, as well as cataracts.  A wide-brimmed hat can protect your face, ears and neck.  If wearing a baseball cap, do not forget to apply sunscreen to your neck and ears. Wear protective clothing that covers exposed areas.
  4. Be aware of medications that increase your sensitivity to the sun.   Some antibiotics and over-the-counter medications can make you more sensitive to sunlight.  Common drugs include antihistamines (e.g. Benadryl), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. aspirin or ibuprofen), antidepressants, etc..  Check with your pharmacist regarding your medication’s possible side effects.
  5. Protect youngsters.  Children younger than six months should not use sunscreen but should be protected from the sun rays with protective clothing and shade.  Children six months or older should have sunscreen applied regularly when outdoors.
  6. Avoid the use of tanning beds.  Tanning beds produce harmful UVA and UVB rays, which increase the risk for skin cancer, including melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer.  There is also no proven evidence that use of tanning beds to obtain a base tan decreases your risk of sunburn.  Beyond that, use of tanning beds increases the chance of developing cataracts and ocular melanoma.

Make healthy lifestyle choices. Maintain healthy skin by not smoking.  Smoking damages collagen and elastin in your skin.  Treat your skin gently by using mild soaps and daily moisturizers.  Limit hot showers as this can strip essential oils from your skin. Pat dry after bathing to retain moisture in your skin.  Eat a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plenty of water.  Engage in stress-reducing activity, and get regular sleep.

Something’s Brewing

Picnics around the world

Statistics show that the risk of virus transmission is relatively low outdoors, at a six-foot distance from each other.  It is nice to gather with family and friends in the sunshine. Click the link for the pandemic picnic etiquette so that you can learn how to socialize responsibly.

Countries around the world have added their own spin to picnics such as games or specialty foods to make the most of this fun activity. 

  Do you know which country plays this unique lawn game that is a mix between chess and bowling, where players are required to knock down wooden blocks with batons?

Game Wooden Set

  Hint: the name of this game is a 4-letter word that starts with a K

A) Iceland
B) Japan
C) Sweden
D) South Korea

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

Submission deadline
July 24, 2020 (Friday) noon

$25 Tim Hortons or Starbucks gift card for the winner
(If more than one person has the right answer, we will pick the winning name out of a hat)

Culture and Entertainment
Contributor: Barbara Mulatinho

Reality TV Shows

Ah, reality television.  A stellar way to ignore the state of the world and focus on what’s important: other people’s drama.  Reality TV is great and all, there is also an overabundance of it.  From The Real World to Million Dollar Listing, The Bachelor to Top Chef, there’s a wide variety for pretty much every person on earth.  In order to help, I have listed three realities which I recommend.  Who knows, perhaps it’ll help you find your next new favourite show?

     The Circle

The Circle – While isolated in their own apartments in the same building, the contestants of this reality show can only talk to each other via “The Circle”, a social media program where they can text and post pictures.  The way they present themselves is entirely up to them.  Want to show who you really are? Cool.  Want to change a few details about your life? That’s fine. Want to be a totally different person? Awesome.  

The goal is to be the top rated participant of the group.  Whoever gets more votes becomes an “Influencer” and can in turn “block” one of the lowest rated participants.  “The Circle US” premiered on Netflix on January 1, 2020, and since then two other versions have come out: “The Circle Brazil” and “The Circle: France”.


     Queer Eye

Queer Eye – This reality show came out on Netflix in 2018 and quickly turned into a sensation, with 6 seasons currently available on the streaming service.  Each member of the Fab 5 are experts in different areas: Antoni Porowski – food and wine; Tan France – fashion; Karamo Brown – culture; Bobby Berk – design; and Jonathan Van Ness – grooming.

 In each episode, someone is nominated to have their whole life transformed, from house renewals, to getting a new wardrobe, and even doing a little therapy.  Watching the chosen ones have their entire life transformed by these five awesome guys and getting to know each participant’s unique story and life, will leave you with a warm heart every time.

     RuPaul’s Drag Race

RuPaul’s Drag Race – This two-time Emmy winning competition program has been around for a long time and with good reason.  With the goal of discovering the next Drag superstar, the contestants have to prove through many challenges that they deserve the crown.  It’s a great show as it highlights for them to be successful, how versatile they must be including comedic abilities, fashion sense and acting prowess.

You also get to learn their stories and be inspired by these hard working professionals.  Be prepared to laugh, cry, be shocked, and choose your favourite.  With 12 seasons it’s hard to decide where to start.  

My favourites are Season 6, Season 9, Season 10, and Season 11. PS: If you’re really into this show, then watch “Rupaul’s Drag race All Stars” which is also great, where the best Queens from past seasons get another chance at the crown.

Growing again

In Universal & You, we want to introduce all new employees and there is a new addition in the Cleveland office.  Please join us in welcoming Maisie Wilson to the team!

Maisie Wilson

Name: Maisie Wilson
Team: U.S. Freight Operations
Start date: July 6, 2020

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.

  July 2020

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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