father used to tell me stories when I was young—like lots of fathers do with
lots of sons. Sometimes there was a message, other times he was trying to be a
comedian. His attempts at humor were often so bad that they ended up being
hysterically funny—just like a puppy that is so god awfully ugly, it’s actually
cute. But his messages were spot on.
young married man, my father, fresh out of the navy, took his first serious
civilian job with a large, old-school, very respectable construction firm. He
was a mechanical engineer and part of a team that was organizing a sealed bid
on a very large project. The bid was successful, securing a project that would
take two years to complete. But, days after the euphoria, my father
discovered he had made a huge error in
his calculations, a misplaced decimal point that resulted in a bid low enough
to win the contract, but at a cost that would seriously challenge the financial
stability of the company.
he would be fired, he delivered the bad news to the owner of the firm. While it
would have been possible to default on the bid due to a “technical” error, the
embarrassment and the loss of credibility rendered that option a non-starter.
Instead, the boss called in all of the subcontractors, top firms large and
small that he had done business with for years. Defaulting on the bid could
have crippled some of these firms, and their employees as well. They had
committed to the project, were not involved in the bids submitted by other
entities, and had bypassed other jobs. The domino effect of the misplaced
decimal point was devastating.
to the chase, all of the subcontractors agreed to do the job at cost. The
owners of my father’s firm took no profit from the project—they paid for the
materials needed, and the employees’ salaries, and that was it.
father had made a mistake, fessed up, and was prepared to bear the
consequences. It was not fun–but he did not get fired, or demoted, or even
shunned. His employer was obviously a man of unusual character and integrity.
So were the many subcontractors who rallied to the aid of their partners and
message was not only to own your mistakes and take the heat. His point was to
act with honor, and surround yourself with people of integrity as well.
done that at NYTHA. The membership has elected a Board of Directors that has
given considerable time for the good of the industry, and all are people of
significant character. The integrity of the staff and the professionals working
for NYTHA is also beyond reproach. Opinions on issues may differ, but the
people I proudly serve beside, and those working on our behalf, are exactly the
people you want on your side. Good people–people my father would have liked.