Jonathan Ambarian

HELENA (KPAX) — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tim Sheehy is stepping down as CEO of the company he founded.

Bridger Aerospace issued a news release Monday morning, announcing Sheehy was resigning as CEO and from the company’s board of directors.

Bridger is an aerial firefighting company based in Belgrade. Sheehy started it in 2014, after his active-duty career in the Navy ended.

“The leadership team at Bridger Aerospace, supported by our experienced board, will continue to excel at its core mission; saving lives and protecting property,” Sheehy said in the release. “This exceptional team deserves a fully focused CEO during its busy fire season. Now that I have won the primary election, it is appropriate for me to allow our leadership team to focus on their duties. I look forward to watching their continued success.”

Sheehy said he had remained an active pilot for Bridger while serving as CEO.

“Tim has worked tirelessly since he founded Bridger to build an industry leading management team, including individuals with strong aviation, corporate and military backgrounds,” said executive chairman Jeffrey Kelter in the release. “As a result of this effort the Board is confident in the ability of the Company’s executive team to continue to operate our fleet of aircraft to execute the Company’s vision.”

Kelter said the company had been preparing for Sheehy’s possible departure since he announced last year that he would challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester. Bridger announced Sam Davis, who has been the company’s chief of staff, would take over as interim CEO.

“With his operating experience and long history with Bridger we expect a smooth transition and remain well positioned to achieve our growth objectives,” said Kelter.

The company said a board committee will begin a search for a new permanent CEO.