I was a little more than 1 year old when General Kinematics opened their doors for the first time back in Sep 1960. Fast forward to 1983, my dad knew the founder, Al Musschoot, and introduced me to him after I graduated from college. Working for a global manufacturer of heavy processing equipment located in the suburbs of Chicago sounded like an excellent way to begin my engineering career.
My subsequent interview was going along very well as I was talking up my mechanical engineering skills without overselling myself. I mentioned I was a solid B student with practical knowledge and common sense know-how; not one of those “bookworm scientific types that graduated from MIT who can’t relate to the average person”. It was then that Al mentioned to me that he graduated from MIT and agreed that it takes many talents to provide a well-rounded company. He was more gracious than I would have been with my faux pas, but that was Al Musschoot.
Back in the 80’s, we designed all of our equipment on a drafting table with paper held down on the corners with drafting tape. We drew with mechanical pencils and made modifications with erasers or, if you could afford it, an electrical eraser. We spent all day on the drawing board and fortunately they adjusted up and down so we could vary our position from sitting to standing as needed.
Later on, when CAD entered into the workspace, we were now confined to sit in one position learning how to use a mouse and making sure we backed up our CAD drawings frequently for fear of losing our hard work. Yes, autosave wasn’t quite perfected yet and we all had instances of losing hours of work once or twice. Ironically it’s now been 30 years later that I am again working from an adjustable workstation. Now they call it a standing desk and is praised as being a modern marvel.
GK urges employees in every department to visit customers on location in order to experience the environments and applications in which our machines operate. After making a few field trips, I thought it would be prudent to sign up for the United club. As an engineer, I didn’t travel frequently and only collected a total of ~12,000 miles in ~12 years. However, those trips proved to be the best learning experience I could have had. I learned to appreciate the overall process of designing a piece of equipment, watching the fabrication go through the shop, and then (sometimes) redesigning it in the field to make it work. GK has always been proactive in providing the opportunity to learn real-world applications and grow as an engineer if you choose to accept it.
After transitioning into sales, I eventually surpassed the 1 million mile mark with United due to my international travels for GK. There have been a few instances while visiting some foreign country either at a trade show or visiting a customer, I catch myself in disbelief of how far GK has come in 60 years. We are now a third-generation privately held company, with a fab shop located in the suburbs of Chicago along with 5 offices around the world. Much has changed over the years, but GK’s dedication to its employees, the equipment, and their customers remains the reason for our success. Congratulations GK on 60 years and may you have many more to come.