The New York Times’ latest look at the 2008 crane collapse that killed two workers on the Upper East Side details a cost-cutting effort gone horribly awry. With its many missteps, we can glean some important lessons from this sad tale.
You are only as good as the company you keep
New York Crane & Equipment Corporation ignored numerous red flags in hiring “unknown” Chinese company RTR Bearing Company Limited to supply a critical part for its crane. That decision not only damaged its own reputation; it was also allegedly a fatal mistake.
Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet
Looking for a faster and cheaper alternative to domestic estimates, New York Crane happened upon RTR, but the Chinese company wasn’t all that its poorly translated website claims. “Chinese sellers can make all manner of false claims,” Paul Midler, author of Poorly Made in China, told the Times. “It really is relatively easy to perform basic due diligence in China, but relatively few American importers do any of it.”
Emails are fair game
Similar to a move in recent lawsuit involving Broadway’s Spider-Man, more than 90 emails were filed as evidence in the manslaughter case of James F. Lomma, New York Crane’s owner. The emails paint an almost comical image of incompetence at both companies.
Every aspect of a company’s communications reflect on its brand (which also happens to be the reason New York Crane never should have pursued business with RTR after seeing its website).
Poor decisions can come back to haunt you
Lomma’s lawyers argue that the crane’s collapse was caused by an operational error, not a faulty bearing from RTR. Their assertion could be true, but it’s much harder to believe given the clearly questionable decision to hire RTR.
Even the smallest decisions can be important, especially when they’re the wrong decisions
Just a small dose of common sense could have prevented this tragic story. A good reputation requires honesty and responsibility. Unfortunately, in this case all parties demonstrated that ignorance is the opposite of bliss.