General Kinetics History


The first hydraulic shock absorbers were made over 100 years ago, and despite any and all the marketing hype, they still work the same way today:  by providing resistance to the flow of fluid. 

Using a gas such as nitrogen or plain old air as a spring medium has been around for just as long.

Not quite as old as that, General Kinetics has been supplying dampers for demanding applications for over 35 years, using proven commercial technology to really focus on a specific niche and develop the discipline and techniques to become the world leader in our space.

Back in 1981, shock absorber manufacturers were offering little more than overgrown car shocks to military customers, clearly inadequate for the application but there wasn’t much of an alternative. No one was engineering and manufacturing a shock absorber to address the unique and specific needs of the Military. We were founded by a small group of engineers who were working elsewhere in the shock absorber industry and recognized the unmet need in the marketplace. We formed our company around the idea that the needs and wants of the Military customers were distinct and therefore engineering a damping solution should be as well. That was…and still is…the key to our success.

Starting with a contract to supply spare parts shock absorbers for the Army’s M60 in early 1982, we have grown considerably and now make a broad range of suspension dampers and systems. We make the shocks for virtually every active tracked vehicle in DoD’s fleet. We provide suspension components and systems to all the major US Military Vehicle OEM’s, and we supply shock absorbers for US-made military vehicles all over the world. We are not just a manufacturer who produces generic shock absorbers, but rather, we are an Engineering company that specializes in suspension and ride engineering to meet the application requirements. We first listen to the customer needs and engineer the suspension component to provide the desired ride. We then produce the damper in our purpose-built factory to ensure quality.

We have successfully demonstrated ride improvement with all the major vehicle manufacturers on new and existing programs, that resulted in a measurable increase in cross-country speed simply by adjusting the performance characteristics of the suspension to suit the mission.  And with no incremental cost increase.  That's right, none.

Our commercial business includes such demanding applications as locomotives, rail cars, seismic  simulators, severe-duty vehicle seats, emergency response vehicles, forestry trucks, mining trucks, and railway maintenance vehicles.  Our commercial products benefit from the same time-proven technologies, disciplines and techniques that go into the military systems we build.

In 2009 we acquired Active Shock, LLC and added cutting edge technology to our product portfolio. In 2008 Active Shock fielded the first production semi-active damping system on a military vehicle. Since acquiring the company, General Kinetics’ Active Shock products have found additional applications in seat suspension for construction equipment and blast mitigation seating to protect the soldier.

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