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September 2020

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2020 Christmas Event Update


You may have heard – there’s a pandemic happening and we have to change the way we are celebrating the holidays this year.

The Events Committee is brainstorming ideas – stay tuned for more details!

Graduating In the Time of COVID-19
Contributor: Lisa Fertita

Graduating high school is a very important rite of passage for young adults and a momentous occasion for their families.  A time full of traditions, pomp and circumstance, and of course, the ever so important prom parties.  However, this graduation season is unlike any other for millions of high school students as they prepare to celebrate this milestone event amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This past June, Ashley Burgess from our Buffalo office and his wife Amy watched from a distance as their son Talan took the stage at Tonawanda Senior High School on graduation day.  Due to the pandemic, a “normal” graduation day wasn’t going to be possible under these special circumstances.  His school needed to find a creative alternative to honour those graduating, for the many years of hard work they invested in their education.

They decided to do this by holding two events at the school, a video graduation on June 9th and a drive through “parking lot graduation” on June 25th.

Amy said the video graduation was on an appointment basis only. The family showed up wearing their masks for Talan’s scheduled check-in time.  When Talan’s name was announced for the camera, he walked across the stage for his photo-op.  Then he was directed aside for his “shout-out” where their student’s names were read aloud along with any honours they received.

For the parking lot ceremony, Amy advised they pulled up in their car and the graduates were requested to line up.  Socially distanced, they walked across a temporary outdoor stage to receive their diplomas.  Unfortunately, only one parent was allowed to share in this part of the graduation experience and had to stay in the car the entire time; even opening a window to take a photo was not allowed.
While not exactly the ceremony Talan may have envisioned, the most important element, his great accomplishment in successfully completing high school and receiving his diploma, remained unchanged. 

One thing for certain – the graduating class of 2020 will never forget their graduation year.  It’s been a truly unique experience, one which no one else has ever gone through before.  Plus, a great story they’ll be able to tell their kids and grandkids in their older years!

Here is Talan accepting his diploma – Congratulations Talan!

Talan Burgess
Talan Burgess

Client Service Experience

Business Quote

The above Malcolm X quote underlines the importance and impact that continued education has on individuals’ future success, both in their personal and business lives.  The Ignite Team’s key objective in 2020 is to concentrate our efforts on providing educational resources and training programs for the betterment of our employees.

We strongly believe that training programs can build skills and knowledge required to do one’s job efficiently and effectively.  From a company perspective, well-trained employees help increase productivity and performance with a reduction in frequency of errors.  Most importantly, it enables our clients to receive an exceptional “Client Service Experience”.   

Education also helps to build employees’ self confidence levels and the belief in their abilities to tackle any task or goal presented.  It positions them well for considerations for potential job advancements and, overall, has a positive impact on their future career path.

However, education and training is a two-way street and while the Ignite Team is providing training seminars and the monthly “Client Service Experience” tips through the Managers, it really comes down to each employee’s desire to grow professionally and pursue career advancement.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to further your skills and take full advantage of the training available to you as a Universal employee.  Speak to your Manager about enrolling in industry training programs through CIFFA and CSCB.  You can also educate yourself by reading informative articles on industry web sites, attending webinars, listening to podcasts and subscribing to free industry newsletters.

There’s a world of information out there to help you build your professional skills and advance your career opportunities – it’s all up to you!  The Ignite Team is always open to suggestions on how we can better help you so please just reach out to us with your ideas.

Ignite Team
Brian Rowe, Chris Cartan, Dave Lychek, Debbie McGuire, John Leis

Financial Tips

End of Summer Financial Checkup

While our summer has almost come to an end, sadly many Canadians continue to face financial uncertainty given the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  Even if you’re one of the luckier ones and your financial situation hasn’t changed, it’s still a good idea to take a few minutes to check your financial health.

It’s always important to understand how much you own, owe, earn, and spend.  Don’t worry, help is readily available through the Investor Office of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) with a wealth of free resources and tools.  For example, their Net Worth Calculator and Financial Goals Worksheet are two popular tools available to assist everyone in understanding their financial situation. You can also sign up for their free newsletters.

     Bury head in the sand

If you’re struggling with debt or spending more than you earn, the Investor Office recommends these 6 tips to help you in the short-term.  For a longer-term solution, consider creating or updating your financial plan.  If you don’t have a financial plan, they can assist you in creating one or you could consider working with a professional.

Remember, burying your head in the sand is not going to make your financial situation any better or mysteriously disappear.  Knowing the true state of your financial health will help you understand where you really stand.  A great step forward is accepting the reality of your financial situation and then making yourself a commitment to undertake the necessary measures to get back on the path of economic recovery and financial well-being.

Health and Lifestyle

Strengthen your Ticker with these
Cardiovascular-Friendly Workouts

Contributor: Crystal Thongmanivong


Regular exercise can lower your risk of diabetes, stroke, depression and obesity, and it’s also very beneficial for your heart.  According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, people who are sedentary are twice as likely to develop heart disease as those people who get regular exercise. 

Whether you have heart disease or you are just looking to start a heart-healthy fitness plan, here are three types of workouts you will want to incorporate.

1. Aerobic exercise for better circulation
For overall cardiovascular health, get at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity like walking 5 days a week or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity like running 3 days a week.  This type of exercise will improve your blood circulation, which can lower your blood pressure and help control how your heart pumps.  Here are some aerobic exercises to try:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Indoor cycling and outdoor biking
  • Elliptical, stair climbers and steppers
  • Aerobic dancing
  • Jump-roping

The talk test can help you understand the intensity level of the exercise you are doing:
During moderate-intensity activity, you should be able to talk, but not sing.  During vigorous-intensity, you should not be able to say more than a few words without taking a breath.

2. Resistance training for stronger muscles
Moderate or high intensity strength training two days a week is recommended for stronger bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments.  Stronger muscles can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories, even when you are not working out, and strength training is not just about free weights—here are some more ideas:

  • Push-ups
  • Squats
  • Chin-ups
  • Free weights
  • Resistance bands

Remember to take at least one day off in between training sessions so your muscles can recover. 

3. Stretching, flexibility and balance for musculoskeletal health
Flexibility exercises like stretching and balance training improve your musculoskeletal health.  Good musculoskeletal health gives you the ability to perform resistance and aerobic exercises that are good for your heart.  Good flexibility can help with stability, and prevent injuries and falls. Try these flexibility-improving workouts: 

Culture and Entertainment
Contributor: Barbara Mulatinho

Emmy Award Recommendations (and Predictions!)

Pandemic viewing has made us even more loyal to television series.  Every year, when the Emmy Awards Nominations are announced, I rush to view the list to see if I can find any shows I haven’t watched yet.  With all that’s happened in 2020, the Emmys were a huge question mark.  It did not seem fair that the series that entertained us during this last year would not be honoured.

Fortunately the Television Academy found a way to make this award show work.  The “Oscar for TV shows” will happen, virtually, on September 20th.  Here are my three recommendations from the list of Emmy nominated shows.  Who knows, maybe they might turn out to be one of the lucky winners on September 20th.

     The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series for the 3rd time in a row, this show tells the story of Midge, a housewife in the late 1950s from New York City.  Her life turned upside down when she discovers that her husband is cheating on her and that she has a knack for stand-up comedy.

What comes after is an amazing journey of self-discovery and comedic situations that is impossible to turn away.  This incredibly charming and fast paced show is made even better by the talented cast led by Rachel Brosnahan, who is also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (she won this award for season 1).  The first 3 seasons are available on Amazon Prime Video, and it’s already renewed for season 4.


Succession – Nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, this HBO show is a strong contender for taking home the trophy as it has already won the Golden Globe for Best Television Drama Series in 2020.  This series centres on the Roy family, owners of Waystar Royco – a global media and hospitality empire.

When the health of the family’s patriarch begins to deteriorate, he needs to decide which of his four children will take over his position.  With so many betrayals, this series takes sibling rivalry to a completely new level, which is why it’s commonly called a corporate Game of Thrones.  The first 2 seasons are available on HBO and Crave and it’s already renewed for a season 3.



Unorthodox – Nominated for Outstanding Limited Series, the 4 episodes Netflix show tells the story of Esty, a 19-year-old Jewish woman, who is not happy with her life in an arranged marriage among an ultra-Orthodox community in New York City.  Everything changes when she runs away to Berlin to discover life outside her community, rejecting all of the beliefs she grew up with.  It’s an inspiring show about new beginnings that is made even better when you learn that it is based on a true story.

While I do think The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Succession will probably end up winning the Emmy in the Comedy and Drama categories respectively, I don’t think Unorthodox will win the Limited Series award.  My bets for that category are:

     Mrs. America

Mrs. America – Available to stream on FX Canada, it tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, and the unexpected backlash led by a conservative woman named Phyllis Schlafly, played by the brilliant Cate Blanchett.

With a strong plot, important message and a stellar cast, this show has a very good chance of winning.



Watchmen – The series with the most nominations in this year’s Emmy Awards (26 in total), is made by HBO and available on Crave TV.  It shows an alternate universe where masked vigilantes are treated as criminals by government agencies.

While some people band together to start a mutiny, others aim to stop it before it yields chaos.  This show is led by the amazing Regina King, nominated for Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.


Something’s Brewing

Quintessential symbol of fall

Once autumn rolls in, the pumpkin reigns supreme.  All year long we wait for our favourite coffee shops to fill with the aroma of pumpkin spice lattes.  It’s the season when grocery stores stock their shelves with limited edition pumpkin desserts.  Each year, a multitude of creative pumpkin recipes pop up in cookbooks, culinary TV shows and food blogs.  It seems that no food symbolizes the blustery fall season quite like this fruit (This is not a typo…Pumpkin is a fruit, not a vegetable!).

Do you know where pumpkins originate from?


A) Ireland
B) Mexico
C) Pakistan
D) Morocco

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

Submission deadline
September 25, 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)

IT Corner

Several how-to’s created by the IT Team can be
found on the G: Drive

IT Corner

Do you remember how to send an eFax or how to set up a Zoom meeting?  Before approaching the IT team for the answer, did you know they have already created a list of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on the G: Drive for some of these frequently asked questions?

They are all located in the general folder “Employee Guidelines, Benefits & Information” on the G: Drive.  Below are some examples of where the SOPs are located:

  • How to send an eFax? –> “Email to Fax SOP”
  • How to set up voice mail? –>  “Phone System Instructions”
  • How to set up a vacation message? –> “Outlook How to’s”
  • How to set up a Zoom Meeting? –> “Zoom Meeting”

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.

  September 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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