I think they were taking the tree down because they sold it. I was watching a real estate cable show and an old guy in Florida was selling his palm trees because as mature specimens they had value in new homes landscaping and in commercial settings.
The roots systems are pretty shallow and you can loosen the ground around them and just haul them away and replant them.
I love trees and would never part with one on my property. We've got older trees that have seen better days and I'm regretting that they'll have to eventually seriously prune them or cut them down if they die.
Those guys had no clue what they were doing.