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RUSSELLVILLE -- POM Incorporated has secured a contract to supply the city of Milwaukee with parking meters, a coup for the meter-maker that traces its lineage to the 1930s.

After an extensive trial period where the city tested parking meter systems from three companies head-to-heard, Milwaukee awarded the contract which will eventually cover 7,000 spaces to Russellville-based POM. The meters are traditional in appearance and cover one or two spaces but they're digital, allowing users to pay in coins, with a credit or debit card, or through parking apps. The meters also come with dashboard-style software to manage the system and the flexibility to adjust the meter's parameters remotely to allow for rate changes or special event parking shifts.

They'll be replacing a kiosk style, multispaced system, that the city said had outlived its usefulness.

Seth Ward III, chief executive officer of POM, said the deal is the most important in his tenure as the company's top executive. He took over in 2013 after the death of his father, Seth "Skeeter" Ward II, who purchased the company in 1981 when meters were still mechanical.

POM's creation is traced back to Carlton Magee, who invented the first parking meters to help relieve parking congestion in Oklahoma City in the 1930s which was an oil boom town at the time. The company he began, after mergers and acquisitions, eventually was purchased by Rockwell Manufacturing Company which shifted meter production to Russellville in 1964. In 1976, a group of of key Rockwell employees and several Arkansas investors formed POM Inc.

Today, POM has sold meters in every state except North Dakota which doesn't allow them by law. The company has an extensive footprint worldwide with sales of meters in 45 countries around the globe. On a recent afternoon, the factory was preparing an order of thousands meters bound for Ecuador.

The company's payroll shifts to meet demand but typically it employs about 50 workers. In addition to making meters, POM offers other manufacturing services, including custom die casting.

According to the National Parking Association, a trade group, in 2018 the parking industry is projecting $29 billion in revenue with over 1 million parking employees, and an estimated 40,000 parking facilities.

Danielle Rodriguez, parking financial manager at City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works, said after a rigorous request for a proposal period, POM stood out from its competitors by offering a high tech meter that's made in America and by providing a superior level of customer service and support.

The total project has an estimated price tag of $3.6 million or about $904 a meter. One factor that made the POM meters attractive was the vintage design, along with the ability to provide one meter for two spaces, something that will be used to cover about 3,000 meter spots in the city.

POM is supplying the meters and they'll be installed by the city. The project is already underway and is expected to take up to three years to complete.

Tom Woznick, parking services manager for the city, said the POM meters give customers more options of payment and the close proximity to the parking space make them a better choice for the harsh winters folks experience in Milwaukee.

"It's about customer convenience in a cold weather climate," Woznick said. "Folks don't want to have to walk to find a meter."

Ward said POM took 80 meters to Milwaukee as part of the city's request for proposal and he oversaw their installation himself. He said the city, even in March, can be, well, pretty chilly.

"It was brutal," Ward said. "But I loved every minute of it."

Photo by Courtesy of POM Inc.
POM Inc. of Russellville has developed a new line of parking meters that accept credit cards, coins or mobile phone apps for payment.

SundayMonday Business on 09/02/2018

Print Headline: State firm sells Milwaukee parking meters

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