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Harrison-based Duncan supplies meters worldwide.

Where did New York City officials go when they wanted to convert 15,000 parking meters to more modern equipment?

To the same company that Los Angeles used when it replaced all of its 40,000 meters last year - Duncan Industries in Harrison.

And if Richard Farrell, president of Duncan Industries, and his team are successful, New York City will replace the rest of its 65,000 meters with Duncan equipment.

"We're in the process of going through the bid work to provide an additional 15,000 [for New Richard Farrell York City]," Farrell says.

Duncan's 140 employees in Harrison's 60,000-SF plant made 150,000 parking systems last year that were installed worldwide. Many of those were Duncan's Eagle 2000 system, a sophisticated machine that Farrell calls "a computer on a post."

The Eagle 2000 can be programmed to change rates automatically and can read smart cards for payment, making coins or currency unnecessary.

The Eagle 2000 communicates by infrared signals with a hand-held computer to audit, among other things, how often the parking meter is used and how much money is inside.

"It's very important for the city to know what the usage is per meter, what the occupancy rates are," Farrell says. "Now we also provide a hand-held enforcement device that communicates with the parking meter when the officer is going to write a citation."

The hand-held computer prints out the ticket and identifies the time and location of the meter, Farrell says.

"The really amazing thing about this electronic meter is that it will sit on the street with the LCD winking and blinking 24 hours a day using a single nine-volt battery for up to two years," Farrell says. "So we've become very proficient in low-power management. And we've seen our parking meter still functioning at 40 below zero Fahrenheit and up to 180 degrees [inside the meter]."

Electronic Meter Inventor

In the mid-1980s, Duncan built the first electronic parking meter, now the standard in the industry. Duncan has dozens of patents on its technology. One patent-pending feature is Duncan's peripheral ports, similar to phone jacks, which allow a city to upgrade its parking meters by plugging in accessory devices at a later date.

Duncan's meters can distinguish and be programmed to accept up to 16 different coins for any country in the world.

Duncan begins production of the parking meters after it wins a bid to supply a city. Delivery is made incrementally.

"We try not to maintain a huge inventory," Farrell says. "We deliver faster than they can install them on the streets. In other words, in a month's time we will ship 5,000-6,000. Normally that's what the customer wants because they can only absorb so much."

Duncan Industries is a subsidiary of giant Dover Corp., a $4.5-billion conglomerate based in New York. The Duncan Parking Meter Co. began in 1936 and, years later, was acquired by Donald Duncan, inventor of the Duncan yo-yo.

"We don't make yo-yos anymore, but we use them occasionally for promotional giveaways," says Farrell, a career employee with Dover Corp. who took over control of the Harrison plant seven years ago.

Duncan is the world's largest provider and manufacturer of parking meters, Farrell says. One of Duncan's major competitors is Russellville's POM Inc.

"You see Harrison, Ark., on products all over the world, on six continents and 50 countries," Farrell says.
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Title Annotation:parking meter supplier Duncan Industries in Harrison, Arkansas
Author:Smith, David
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Apr 6, 1998
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