By Chris Wright, The News On 6
GLENPOOL, OK -- A deadly plane crash could mean a daunting future for an up-and-coming Green Country company.
Motorcycle maker US Highland lost its president, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer when their plane crashed in Mohawk Park Saturday.
US Highland hopes to bring hundreds of jobs to Glenpool. Experts say it was poised for growth, but this tragedy is a huge setback.
"We are something American owned, American special, and we are going to be something to be reckoned with over the next year," Chase Bales said.
That was an ambitious statement made by Chase Bales just last month. In an interview posted on its website, the 51-year-old Chief Operating Officer and President Mats Walmberg discuss the future of the company
Bales and Walmberg, along with 37-year-old Damian Riddoch, were killed when their Cessna crashed in a wooded-area of Mohawk Park Saturday night.
US Highland relocated to Green Country two years ago. The company makes Motocross Motorcyles. It's an industry dominated by the Japanese, and an American manufacturer is rare.
Highland opened a 33,000 square foot factory in Glenpool last month, complete with its own test track.
It was open Monday, and the company has pledged to push on.
In a released statement, Chief Executive Officer Steven Moell said, "Our hearts and prayers go out to their families. No words can describe the loss the families are experiencing. It was an honor to work with these three men and I know they would want us to build U-S Highland into a powerhouse company."
The company has hoped to create as many as 300 new jobs. It planned on building 700 bikes this year, 1,500 the next, and 3,000 the following year.
"It's to build a whole entire motorcycle," Bales said. "A special motorcycle that will reach the masses world-wide."
After Saturday's tragedy, it will be up to those left behind to fulfill that ambition.
Shares of US Highland plummeted 44% during trading Monday.
Malmberg is survived by his wife and three children, Bales his wife and two children, and Riddoch his wife and four children.