Moshe Stein is a nice Jewish exterminator.
Whether he is squishing odorous ants, bursting blood-filled bedbugs or trapping rats and roaches, Stein is unfailingly warm, thoughtful and polite.
“I personally believe you have to be nice, soft-spoken, because the bottom line is, you are dealing a lot with housewives,” Stein said. “You have to have that sensitive touch.”
On a recent Thursday in Brooklyn, Stein, 32, cruised the predominantly Orthodox neighborhoods of Manhattan Beach, Flatbush, Midwood and Boro Park in his white Honda minivan.
Stein’s clients are overwhelmingly Orthodox Jews, either private homeowners or apartment building landlords. He’s part of a growing number of Orthodox exterminators sensing a business opportunity in a swelling population in New York City.
He believes that trust is one of the most important factors for a successful pest control business. And Orthodox Jews are more trusting of an Orthodox exterminator.
“We say that all of us met at Mount Sinai,” Stein said. “We already met once. I think there’s that comfort.”
Stein said the phenomenon is no different from the way Hispanic tenants he serves in Orthodox-owned buildings in the Bronx responded better when Stein employed a Hispanic exterminator.
“I don’t think it makes a big difference whether you are a Jew or a non-Jew, but I am sure there is always this element of ‘my community, my people,’ and that automatically takes [mistrust] down a notch.”
Stein is tall and has a gentle, open face. He wears a black yarmulke, tzitzit, and has a loaded bait gun slung around his waist.
Outside the home of an Orthodox family in Midwood, Stein found an entrance to an ant colony. He laid down poisonous granules for the ants, and they immediately began taking them back to their nest.
“Baruch Hashem, give it a week and you won’t have a problem,” he told the Orthodox homeowner as she wrote him a check.