Joan Ostrander may have been destined to maintain a career in escrow services in Long Beach.
She started her career in 1968 at Farmers & Merchants Bank in Downtown Long Beach, working as a part-time teller and in a secretarial position for one of the bank's owners. She soon asked if she could have the opportunity to work with the escrow company the bank had at the time as a backup officer. "I fell in love with escrow," she said.
After F&M Bank, Ostrander was employed with an office of Anna Roh Escrow, which had 10 to 12 offices in the 1970s. She worked at the office located at 3588 Long Beach Blvd.
In 1984, Anna Roh Escrow was sold to a new owner. "We were taken over" Ostrander said. "[Soon] there were some problems with our trust funds with what the new owners were doing. I suspected something funny was going on, so I called the department of corporations. They came in and took over all the offices, and the new owner filed bankruptcy." It was what seemed like the end. Ostrander saw the loss as an opportunity to go out on her own.
When Ostrander discovered the lease for the office suite had not been renewed in two years, the property owners worked with her as she incorporated International City Escrow. "I never in the world would have thought I could own my own business," she said.
Ostrander incorporated her business in 1985. The company has 15 employees, most of whom are escrow officers serving clients in both Los Angeles and Orange counties. "What makes us special is we do just about every type of escrow there is; not only real estate, but business opportunity and specialized escrow. I have not laid anyone off, either. I kept all of my employees during the worst of times. Good employees are hard to get, and you can't replace them once they're gone."
Ostrander said her biggest challenge is "establishing a good rapport with the various kinds of lending institutions that we are dealing with, with the banks that are doing the short sales, and with the background and knowledge that I have making recommendations that will make transactions work so that we can actually bring them to a close."