New York Post - November 6, 1989
A PROCESS SERVER'S TALES ARE LEGENDARY
By: Bernard Bard
Like the Royal Canadian Mounties, Irving Botwinick always gets his man.
He’s the king of process-servers. He once scrubbed up as a surgeon to serve a doctor in the operating room. He sat next to a celebrity at a society dinner to serve him after desert. He climbed fire escapes, engaged in cab chases.
Botwinick has a staff of 20 like-minded fanatics to assist him at Serving by Irving Inc., 233 Broadway.
One served a man involved in a divorce action on a nude beach. He recognized him by a snake tattooed on his thigh. The ID was supplied by his estranged wife.
A female operative went through a gynecological exam so she could serve an obstetrician in a malpractice case.
One of Irving’s best gets around in a wheelchair because of a childhood injury. His code name is “wheels.” He does great. Irving says, because “if a guy rolls up in a wheel chair you feel sorry for him.”
“Wheels” got a man to come to the door by telling him he won a Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. He served a doctor at NYU Medical Center by asking for help in filling in his application to medical school.
“We don’t wait around for a response,” says Irving.
They can get nasty. One of Irving’s servers was chased by a man with a butcher knife. Irving was surrounded by nine musclemen when he served divorce papers on a Westchester mob figure. One enraged defendant humped up and down on the hood of the process-server’s car.
Botwinick says he is the “Rolls-Royce” of the industry because he specializes in the tough cases and does the job right. He charges $50 an hour, two or three times the going price. His usual fee is $150.
He’s a legend in the business. “My motto is if they’re alive, we’ll serve ‘em. If they’re dead, we’ll tell you where they’re buried.”
He grew up in a low-income city project in East New York. His father had polio and couldn’t work, so the family was on welfare. Irving got hand-me-down clothes from cousins, “nine sizes too big.” He went to school with his pants held up by a safety pin.
“I was always determined to get out of this nightmare of being very, very poor,” says Botwinick.
He got into process-serving while working as a manager of a law office. He found many process-servers did a poor job—“one guy couldn’t find the Empire State Building.” He convinced his bosses to let them serve their papers for extra money.
In 1977 he started Serving by Irving – “I wanted a catchy name” – specialized in the hard-to-find.
Among the toughest to serve, Botwinick found, are the lawyers and Chasidic Jews. “They’re always questioning. If you ask a Chasid ‘are you Sholomo Rabinowitx,’ he’ll say ‘who wants to know?’"
Disguises are big with Irving. He’s dressed as a messenger to deliver a bouquet – and subpoena – to a model. His son got dressed in a nun’s habit to deliver a summons to a priest. One of his female servers did a strip-o-gram to get her man.
Sometimes Botwinick decided to skip the vaudeville. “I call them up and say my name is so-and-so. I have a subpoena for you, and rather than chase you around town or embarrass you I’d like to make an arrangement with you on where I can deliver it.
“Sometimes they agree to meet me at the diner. Other times they tell me what to do with it. So I say, oh good, if you’re going to hide, hide good because I’m the best in the business. And I get paid by the hour, so make my job hard. As a matter of fact go out of town.
“I work on their heads. Like a psychologist.”
Botwinick expects to gross $1 million this year. He’s planning to franchise, starting in Philadelphia in January.
He is 42. He’s got a six-bedroom spread in Rockland, drives a gold jaguar XJS. He’s been married twice, has six kids. His idol is Donald Trump.
“He and I think alike. He’s a doer, a go-getter. He’s a manipulator. Matter of fact we are the same age.”
Business is good, Botwinick says, because he’s “always there” for his lawyers. “I get beeps from lawyers at 3 in the morning. I always keep the beeper by my bed. If I go to the bathroom I take it with me. If I’m making love, it’s right there.”