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May 2021

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Grace & Chris… Congrats, Thank You & Best Wishes!!


Grace & Chris Barnard

  Grace & Chris Barnard

After 40+ years of loyal and dedicated service to the company, Grace and Chris Barnard will be retiring from Universal Logistics.  Friday, June 4th marks their final working day, but the highlights and memories of their time at Universal will be everlasting.  I would like to share some of these highlights and memories with our Universal team.

First, Grace…

Grace Barnard (née Mercadante) started with Universal in June of 1979 at our Head Office in downtown Toronto and her job title was Ocean Imports.  Grace worked in Ocean Freight Operations for 10 years until 1989 when she moved out to our Toronto Airport Office, handling Airfreight Imports and Exports.  In 1997, thanks to her outstanding work and conscientious dedication to ensuring everything at our Airport office was always running smoothly, Grace was promoted to Branch Manager – Toronto Airport.


Grace Barnard

As we all know, Grace is a very social person who is not shy about talking to friends and strangers alike.  She has an uncanny ability to draw personal information out of people, even those she has just met.  This talent is what led to Grace moving into a role on our Client Relations team in 2000, and ultimately to a position in Business Development which she held over the past 3 years.

For over 2 decades in Client Relations and Sales, Grace forged deep personal relationships with our clients thanks to her outstanding listening skills and her genuine care and interest in their families and their personal lives.  She put our clients at ease making them comfortable and confident in entrusting their business with Universal.  At the same time, Grace’s fearless approach in talking with people she had just met allowed her to break the ice with new prospects and develop a level of trust very quickly.  Clearly it was Grace’s engaging and caring personality that resulted in her achieving such great success in her Client Relations and Business Development roles.  We certainly have some big shoes to fill in looking after the clients with the same level of care that Grace put forth over all these years.

Grace’s wonderful personality and motherly instincts also led to her forging genuine friendships with her fellow co-workers at Universal.  The way she always treated our younger employees, it was easy to see that Grace is the ultimate Mom.  Like with our clients, Grace wanted our employees to be happy and comfortable, and she looked after them like they were part of her family.  For years, Grace also devoted time to our Events Committee with special focus on our summer and Christmas events for the kids.

And now, Chris…


Grace Barnard

Chris Barnard started with Universal way back in April 1973 as a runner and junior rater with our Customs Operations team.  He slipped away for a few years to “find himself” in Western Canada, ultimately returning to Universal in 1981 as our Customs Manager.  In 1983, Chris switched over to the Freight side as our Transportation Manager, and in 1990 he was promoted to General Manager – Transportation.  Although Chris got his start in the industry on the Customs side of the business, it was the Freight side that truly captured his interest and imagination.

The operational experience Chris gained in customs and freight made him a well-rounded logistics expert and he was a resource our clients came to rely on for shipping guidance.  He was a natural at gaining our clients’ trust and convincing them to use more of our services.  In 1997, this success in business development led to Chris being promoted once again, this time as Vice President – Sales & Market Development.  For his final 12 years at Universal, Chris served as Vice President – Projects & Market Development as a key member of our Executive team.

Over these many years, Chris proved to be the ultimate Universal employee.  Starting off on the bottom rung of the ladder as a runner, and working his way up to the top as Vice President and the only non-family member of the Executive, Chris travelled an incredible journey with tremendous success along the way.  He is a person who always planned ahead (just like with his retirement) and a very creative thinker, always trying to find a new and better way of doing things; Always wanting what is best for the company, for our employees’ careers, for our profitability and for our enduring success.

For 40+ years, Chris has been the one that employees were comfortable approaching with their questions (and problems!).  Whether it be a unique, complex freight or customs issue, or even a personal issue about saving money or buying a home, Chris was there with the wisdom, experience and genuine interest to provide sound and valuable advice.  Have a scroll through our many issues of Universal & You and you will find tips from Chris on managing your money and planning for retirement.  He speaks from personal experience and success.

As founder and leader of our more recently established Ignite team, Chris always took a keen interest in mentoring and developing our top managers and directors.  He truly wanted them to succeed in the same way that he did.  And, he has always been that special mentor for myself and my 3 brothers since our Dad passed away 25 years ago.  I can’t tell you how many times I sought out Chris’s advice and guidance, especially for the most critical issues involving the future of our company.

Model employees, yes, but…

While Grace and Chris were model employees over more than 4 decades with Universal, setting the perfect example for others to follow, I must point out their one and only breach of company regulations.  My late father, Frank Glionna, established a guideline which his sons affectionately referred to as “The Golden Rule”, or Rule 17B of the Universal By-Laws:  Don’t date or marry your fellow employees.  At Universal’s Head Office in March of 1981, Chris met Grace for the first time and for him it was love at first sight.  For Grace, maybe not so much as she politely rejected Chris’s requests for a date over 9 long months (…or perhaps she was just being loyal to Rule 17B!).  Regardless, Chris finally got that first date with Grace in January 1982 and, after only a month, he asked her for her hand in marriage.  Chris and Grace were married on September 6th, 1982 and here they are almost 39 years later, still very happily married and still working with Universal over all that time.  I guess Frank’s Rule 17B was truly made to be broken!

Working together at Universal as a married couple presented some interesting challenges for Grace and Chris.  We know that one of Grace’s best personality traits is that she is never afraid to speak her mind.  This trait can pose a problem however when one is married to one’s boss.  For a time during their Universal careers, Grace had to report in to Chris as her boss.  During one team meeting, Chris presented what he thought was an excellent new idea for implementation.  Unfortunately, Grace did not agree so she abruptly interrupted Chris’s presentation and said, “This is a stupid idea and it will never work”.   Chris’s team members were quite happy that Grace had voiced exactly what they too were all thinking.  On the drive home from work that day, Chris said to Grace, “I don’t care how stupid you think my idea is, just don’t say it in front of my whole team.  Save it for the drive home.”  From that day forward, after every team meeting, Grace would tell Chris how lousy his ideas were on the drive home.  Yes, throughout their shared Universal career, there was never too much doubt as to who’s the boss!

A well-planned plan for retirement…

On December 8, 2017 (over 3-and-a-half years ago!), Chris informed me that he and Grace would be retiring on Friday, June 4, 2021.  He wanted to retire half way through the calendar year in order to maximize their tax situation, and he wanted it to fall on the last day of a pay cycle to make it easiest for Universal.  Chris had the retirement countdown ticker on his computer screen and reminded me often of the exact number of years/months/days/hours/minutes remaining in his tenure at the company.  We truly had some fun teasing Chris about the exacting nature of his plan.  Always the planner, and always one who is true to his word, Chris is delivering on his promise in two weeks.  It is unbelievable how quickly these past 3 years have passed by.  It is also unbelievable that Grace and Chris will actually be leaving Universal.  One thing for certain though, Grace and Chris will always remain as part of the Universal family.

It is a bitter-sweet moment in history for Universal as we will be bidding farewell to two of the most impactful employees ever to work here.  Their outstanding contributions to our company’s success cannot be replicated.  Their wisdom, experience and guidance cannot be replaced.  Together, they made great friendships with so many at Universal and their presence here will be missed by all.  At the same time however, it is fulfilling to know that Grace and Chris have retired on their own terms and can now truly enjoy the fruits of their labour.  Grace will enjoy her cooking (especially baking… lucky Chris and family!), and Chris will enjoy playing his sports (especially hockey and golf… look out opponents!).  Most importantly, together they will enjoy travelling the world (when this crazy COVID thing finally subsides) and spending time with their wonderful family – 4 awesome kids and 4 beautiful grandkids.

Grace and Chris, congratulations on your well-earned retirement.  From myself and my brothers, Dave, Mark and Paul, thank you sincerely for the exceptional contributions you made to our company’s growth and success, and for the wonderful personal friendship we will always share.  You were such a pleasure to work with and we will miss seeing you and talking with you on a daily basis.  On behalf of everyone at Universal, congratulations and wishing you all the best!!


Friday, June 4th –
Pizza Luncheon at Head Office

Please mark your calendars.  On their last day, Friday, June 4th, Grace and Chris will be at Head Office and we will be having an informal pizza luncheon in honour of our retirees.  Plan to attend and take the opportunity to extend your best wishes to Grace and Chris for the future.

Michael Glionna, President
Michael Glionna, President

It took a village…and we’re “Richer” for it!
Contributors: Mike O’Donnell & John Leis


Back in May 2020, we received a welcome reprieve from the COVID cloud that hung over all of us by sharing the good news that Universal had been awarded the Rich Products of Canada Limited Canadian brokerage business!  You can read about it in the May 2020 edition of Universal & You.

With over 3,000 Canadian entries, this represented a very significant win for our company!

As the COVID cloud lifts further, we have some more great news to share.  At the close of the 1st quarter of 2021, we were officially awarded another 2,500 U.S. Customs clearances by Rich Products!

For the past year, a wide cross section of Universal employees have worked tirelessly to manage both the onboarding and servicing of the Canadian business.  From Business Development (Michael O’Donnell), to IT (Janice Ilkay, Ofeera Fatima), to U.S. and Customs Operations (Marion Bradnam, Karen Murray and Lukas Hamann), to Customs Consulting (Brian Rowe), to our Administrative team (Tina Scharnberg), to Client Relations (Mark Glionna and John Leis), whether it involved preparing and presenting our proposal, scheduling regular monthly meetings, forging closer personal ties, developing unique invoicing, consulting and technical solutions, this team did everything it took to convince our friends at Rich Products that Universal is their true northern border solution!

This focused, dedicated and collaborative approach has served Universal and Rich Products extremely well.  The team at Rich Products has very openly mentioned that their previous service provider, Livingston, who had managed both their U.S. and Canadian brokerage volume for decades, was never able to provide the same level of excellent service that Universal has in just the first year of managing their brokerage business.

Your collective effort has helped us win what stands amongst our company’s greatest success stories and one which will continue to benefit all of us for years to follow.

Congratulations, to the entire team!

Something’s Brewing

Take a moment to gaze at the stars

May 26: Super Moon (Flower Moon) & Total Lunar Eclipse


Super Moon

This year’s Full Moon in May, also known as the Flower Moon, is a Super Moon.  It may look bigger and brighter compared to other Full Moons.  On the same day, a Total Lunar Eclipse will also occur.  The Moon passes completely through the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra, and it will gradually get darker, then take on a blood red color. 

June 10: Annular Solar Eclipse


Angular Solar Eclipse

An Annular Solar Eclipse occurs when the Moon is too far away from the Earth to completely cover the Sun.  This results in a ring of light around the darkened Moon. (*Please use special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers, to view the eclipse.)

If you want to get the full stargazing experience, you have to get away from the lights of the big cities.  Ontario is home to 6 of Canada’s 19 designated dark sky preserves (there are only 36 in the world)!

Dark sky preserve

Which is the first designated dark sky preserve in Canada? (Hint: it is only two and half hours away from Toronto)

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

Submission deadline
Friday, May 28 (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)

If you are looking for more astronomical events for the year, please check the Astronomy Calendar.

Kudos Corner

Kudos Corner

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

Introducing Kudos Corner – a new 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.

Our first entry was submitted by Kathleen Pope of our Client Relations team:

“In managing the inland portion of imports for Elmridge Farm, Josie Tobia of our Montreal office provided listening ears for Greg Gerrits.  She requested the Customs paperwork and Greg expressed his frustration at not having a direct contact with his current customs broker.  Josie suggested that he reach out to us if he is looking for a smaller broker with a more personalized service.  That was all Greg needed.  He reached out to us to clear his next import.  Elmridge Farm is now pending set-up for both an international freight and Canadian customs account.  Great way to identify the opportunity to promote the personal quality of our services!!”

Smile… Pictures of Puppies

If you need some cheering up (and even if you don’t), check out Brian Rowe’s litter of English Springer Spaniel puppies.  The 5 pups, all girls, arrived on March 28th – 4 black & white and 1 liver & white.


These little cuties are keeping their mother (and Brian) busy around the clock.  In fact, they are so cute that our own David Lychek could not resist and will be welcoming one of them into his family very soon.

Growing again

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

Michael Agee            Kevino Kwan

Name: Michael Agee
Team: Distribution Services
           (Toronto Airport)
Start date: April 19, 2021

  Name: Kevino Kwan
Team: Ocean Services
            (Head Office)
Start date: April 26, 2021
Sumin Oh     William Liang

Name: Sumin Oh
Team: Freight Solutions
           (Head Office)
Start date: May 19, 2021

  Name: William Liang
Team: Customs Operations
            (Head Office)
Start date: May 10, 2021


Frances McDormand, Nomadland

Book Buzz
Contributor: Barbara Mulatinho

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

A poignant comedy about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.

Viewing an apartment normally doesn’t turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage.  As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers begin slowly opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths.

Culture and Entertainment
Contributor: Barbara Mulatinho


If there’s one thing that never gets old it’s a truly great musical film.  Musical movies have seen a comeback in recent years, particularly with the rising popularity of music biopics and stage-to-screen adaptations. To help you pick, I’ve rounded up some of the latest and greatest musical movies released:



Hamilton Available on Disney+
This Broadway play created by Lin-Manuel Miranda became so famous that a stage version with the original cast was filmed and released last July on Disney+.

It is a powerful retelling of Alexander Hamilton’s life, starring a cast of very diverse performers.  The show won many awards including a Pulitzer, a Grammy and 11 Tonys (Broadway’s Oscar).

Special Note:  ‘Satisfied’ and ‘The Room Where It Happens’ are some of my favorites scenes.



RocketmanAvailable on Amazon Prime Video
A thoroughly entertaining narrative isn’t the only captivating element in this biopic that doubles as a heartfelt tribute to the life and music of Elton John – it’s also the stellar soundtrack set to the musician’s most beloved songs.

Contrary to Bohemian Rhapsody, Elton did not mind showing all his sides: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Special Note:  The scene where Elton writes ‘Your Song’ is very beautiful (it made me tear up).



The Prom – Available on Netflix
Adapted to a movie by Ryan Murphy, this musical starts when a troupe of hilariously self-obsessed theater stars swarm into a small conservative Indiana town in support of a high school girl who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom.

With a stellar cast lead by Meryl Streep, this movie was nominated for Best Comedy at the 2021 Golden Globe Awards.

Special Note:  The scene at the mall where they sing ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ is one of the most fun in the movie.

Health and Lifestyle

Camping 101 – Read before staying the night


Camping’s popularity is on the rise as staycations become the new norm amid health and travel restrictions.  With few vacation options currently available, it’s the perfect opportunity to get away and spend a few days under the stars.  It’s also an incredibly affordable way for friends, a couple or family to enjoy time away together.

Sound exciting?  We thought so and have put together some very useful information and tips to help all you novice campers enjoy your wilderness adventure to its fullest.

The Essentials:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad/mattress
  • Pillow
  • Chair
  • Flashlight/Lantern
  • Cooler
  • Cookware/utensils
  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Food
  • Water

Camping Activities:

Most campgrounds offer extensive biking trails suited for everyone, from beginner to experienced.

Consider bringing a water vessel as all the campgrounds listed below are adjacent to a body of water.  If you don’t own a canoe or kayak, most Ontario Provincial Parks offer rentals.

Other Sports:
Many Ontario Provincial Parks offer shared spaces to play sports such as volleyball and soccer.  If you prefer to stick to your own campsite, a football or frisbee is a great option.

Friendly Reminders:

Fire Warnings:
A campfire is synonymous with camping, but it’s important to stay up to date on your region’s fire mandate to ensure everyone’s safety.

Be sure to leave your campsite as you found it.  Not only is this a benefit for the next patrons, but also for the animals that share the space.

You are now primed and ready to go – so Where to Camp?

Following is a list of Ontario Provincial Park campgrounds fit for all ages and levels of experience:

Southwest and Central:
Inverhuron Provincial Park – 19 Jordon Rd, Kincardine, ON (adjacent to Lake Huron).
Awenda Provincial Park – 670 Awenda Park Rd, Tiny, ON (adjacent to Georgian Bay).

Presqu’ile Provincial Park – 328 Presqu’ile Pkwy, Brighton, ON (adjacent to Lake Ontario).
Sandbanks Provincial Park – 3004 County Rd 12, Picton, ON (adjacent to Lake Ontario).

Near North:
Killbear Provincial Park – 35 Eddie Ramsay Parkway, Nobel, ON (adjacent to Georgian Bay).
Killarney Provincial Park – 960 ON-637, Killarney, ON (adjacent to Georgian Bay).

North Parks:
Pancake Bay Provincial Park – 12729 Hwy 17N, Batchawana Bay, ON (adjacent to Lake Superior).

Lake of Two Rivers Campground – Highway 60, Unorganized South Nipissing District, ON (adjacent to Lake of Two Rivers).

Tips & Tricks

  • The increased popularity of camping in Ontario has made booking a spot a real challenge – do your research and book early!
  • The Parks Canada government web site is an excellent resource for new campers, providing tips on how to book a campsite and some rules to keep in mind when you visit.
  • Reference this article in Money Sense in regards to what you can expect to spend on your camping trip.

Financial Tips

It’s never too early to start saving for retirement

In personal finance, time is more than a four-letter word; it’s the simplest and most reliable tool we have for building wealth.

In your 20s, saving for a retirement which is decades away might not seem like a priority – but starting early could make a difference of tens of thousands of dollars or more, thanks to compound interest.

Compound interest is a form of exponential growth that rewards savers and investors, particularly those who act early.  Take, for example, Paul and Jennifer who both invest $100 a month at a 5% annual compound rate of return.  Paul begins investing at age 25, putting away $100 every month until 65 while Jennifer saves the same amount each month, but doesn’t start until age 35.

Finance Savings chart

The extra 10 years of saving means that Paul has about $162,000 in his bank account, while Jennifer has $89,000 by the time they both reach 65.  Paul’s’ balance is nearly double Jennifer’s, but he only contributed an extra $12,000 of his own money.

Now, if Paul and Jennifer were to increase their monthly contribution amount by a small percentage each year, they’d wind up with even more money in their accounts at retirement time.  However, if you can’t afford $100, start with a lesser amount and gradually increase it over time. The really important part is not so much the monthly amount saved, but starting as early as possible.

Plus, investing in the stock market, whether through a self directed, non-registered account or through a registered retirement account such as an RRSP, may yield a rate of return that’s even higher than 5% in some years.  The average returns for Canadian equities trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) over the longer term are in the range of 6.0% to 7.5%.

However, with this increased return also comes additional risk, as stocks can be volatile and do go up and down some years.  With a long term savings horizon, the added risk is reasonable provided you are comfortable, otherwise lower returns in fixed income investments (i.e. guaranteed returns) such as High Interest Savings Accounts (HISA) or Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC) are a better option.  You must be able to sleep at night and not be worrying about your money!

Saving in a tax-advantaged retirement account, such as a TFSA can give your money an even greater boost.  Those types of accounts are funded with pre-tax money, so your full dollar will have the opportunity to compound.

Time is the greatest tool we have for building wealth and the common element in the portfolios of most successful savers.

There are many online tools to help you meet your retirement goals, such as Manulife, our DPSP service provider.

Starting to save now, at any amount you can afford and wherever you are in your timeline is better than starting tomorrow or next week.

IT Corner

IT Corner

Discover Zoom Chat

Zoom is not only a great meeting software, but comes with another fantastic feature, Zoom Chat.

Zoom Chat keeps collaboration between team members consistent and easy, enabling them to stay productive and in communication wherever they are.  All Universal employees are easily accessible through Zoom Chat and you can also create group chats for a team.

Here are a few of the features:

  • Invite internal and external participants
  • Instantly transition from chat to meetings
  • Messages and shared content stay synced and searchable

A Zoom account can be created for anyone upon their Manager’s request.

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.

  May 2021

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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