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Industry News:

Unigistix Chairman and Institute Vice Chair George Markou, and Michael Dunlop, Unigistix Founder, Designated to be Among Canada’s Best

George Markou, Vice-Chair of The Logistics Institute, who at the conclusion of last year became Chairman of the Board of Brampton, Ontario-based Unigistix Inc., made the news again this quarter based on his company’s stellar performance.

Unigistix’s earned the designation of being one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies at the tenth anniversary of this program, sponsored by the Financial Post, Deloitte Consulting, Queen’s School of Business and CIBC.

Unigistix’s momentum in business continues to grow, and it is reported to be poised for significant growth this year as evidenced by its recently inaugurated marketing department, established to garner more business in a marketplace where Unigistix had previously developed all of its new clients exclusively through referrals.

Companies vying for coveted placement on the final 50 Best list completed a comprehensive questionnaire and an extensive indepth interview process that enabled the panel to examine their management practices. This year’s independent judging panel evaluated how each of the finalists addressed various business challenges, such as new technologies, globalization, brand, leadership and the new generation of people entering the labor market.

Established in 1993, the 50 Best award is a national program, recognizing Canadian companies that have implemented world-class best business practices and created value in innovative ways.

Unigistix Inc. has set new standards for third party logistics services. We provide all of the physical elements of logistics – facilities, equipment and storage systems. Unigistix configures all of these elements into highly flexible e-commerce logistics management solutions tailored to meet the varied and rapidly changing needs of companies. The core of our strategy is to effectively integrate our people, processes and technology in the delivery of superior customer service at competitive prices to our clients. This is critical and appreciated by our clients, in increasing the breadth of services offered and the achievement of the desired strategic partnership.

United States and Canadian Customs Agencies and Canada’s Railways Strengthen Security Measures for Transborder Shipments.

Canadian and United States customs agencies and Canada’s two major railways recently announced they have signed a declaration of principles to further enhance security at the Canada-U.S. border and to ensure secure rail access to the United States.

The joint government-industry initiative is the culmination of several months of discussion about ways to enhance the security of U.S.-bound rail shipments while ensuring trade continues to flow smoothly between the two countries. These discussions were part of the larger process of implementing the Smart Border Declaration adopted by Canada and the United States in December 2001.

The declaration of principles, signed by the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA), Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), outlines the principles for targeting, screening and examining rail shipments transported by the two Canadian carriers into the United States. It includes guidelines for collecting advanced electronic manifest information and installing imaging and radiation detection equipment at seven CN and CPR border crossings.

In addition to the efforts related to the declaration of principles, CN and CPR have both secured accreditation under CBP’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program. C-TPAT is a joint government-business initiative designed to build cooperative relationships that strengthen overall supply chain and border security.

The railways and Customs officials are already working to implement the measures outlined in the declaration of principles, and expect this work will be completed over the next several months.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
Ends Discussions to Separate Deloitte Consulting

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu announced today that its member firms have ended their discussions to separate Deloitte Consulting through a buy-out of that practice by the consulting group’s partners. The global organization cited external factors including the tight credit market and the uncertain state of the economy.

Deloitte Consulting partners will continue to provide a broad set of professional services, principally focused on non-audit clients. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu member firms, including Deloitte Consulting, will continue to fully comply with the form and substance of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the SEC’s independence rules in the United States and with all regulatory and legislative requirements in other countries.

Deloitte Consulting had sought to become a privately held partnership and had achieved agreement internally with the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu member firms on organizational and financial terms of the separation.

Deloitte enjoys a strong capital structure, a position that is necessary to be able to continually invest in initiatives to enhance the quality of audits. In an uncertain economic environment, financial terms of the proposed transaction that might have weakened this position were unacceptable to both groups of partners.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, one of the world’s leading professional services organizations, had announced on February 6, 2002 that it intended to separate Deloitte Consulting. In the United States, the firm then, as now, is not required to separate the consulting organization. Deloitte expressed appreciation to its partners and professionals, clients, advisors, regulators and lenders for their assistance in the effort to achieve a separation.

The member firms of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu deliver world-class assurance and advisory, tax, and consulting services. With more than 100,000 people in over 140 countries, the member firms serve over one-half of the world’s largest companies, as well as large national enterprises, public institutions, and successful, fast-growing global growth companies. The company’s mission is to help clients and its people excel. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu is a Swiss Verein, and each of its national practices is a separate and independent legal entity.

IWLA Business Outlook Report
Uncertainty about the overall economy and world events has resulted in greater pessimism regarding the overall 2003 business climate, according to the annual Business Outlook published by the International Warehouse Association of North America (IWLA).

Up to 66 percent of IWLA’s members report that their company is in a growth mode, and 60 percent intend to hire more employees in 2003. However, while 60 percent are either cautiously optimistic or very optimistic about the business climate for 2003, 40 percent are concerned or very concerned. Last year, only 29 percent were in that category.

The results were based on a 30-question survey sent to IWLA’s 550 members in March. Aside from the positive results concerning business growth, the survey also reveals gains in space utilization for 2003. Just over half (51 percent) of respondents project using more space this year than in 2002. And while 35 percent projected using less space last year, only 15 percent fall into that category in 2003.

The other bright spot is that 43 percent of IWLA members say business is better this year as opposed to last year, while 26 percent say business is the same. However, nearly one-third (31 percent) claim business is off from last year. The results are marginally better than last year, when nearly half of respondents (46 percent) said business was down, with only 35 percent claiming an increase.

Increasing costs continue to be a concern, especially when it comes to insurance. Sixty percent of respondents expect health insurance costs to increase greatly, while another 37 percent expect slight increases. Almost all respondents (93 percent) also expect some sort of increase in property insurance. Members also anticipate costs hikes for utilities and transportation.

The study also shows that 36 percent of IWLA members are concerned with the financial status of their top 20 customers, and that 85 percent expect pressure from customers to reduce prices while increasing services. Sixty-five percent plan to purchase technology in 2003. Forty-one percent plan a major equipment purchase this year. Half of those respondents expect their capital expenditure to be less than US$250,000.