West Fraser's history began in 1955 when Pete, Bill and Sam Ketcham purchased a small planing mill with a crew of 12 in Quesnel, British Columbia. The founding values and business principles on which the Company was built still serve us well today.
Values such as frugality, humility, teamwork, competitiveness and the importance of people and family are embedded in the Company and continue to drive us. Being the low-cost producer, reinvesting in our facilities and maintaining a conservative balance sheet are fundamental principles that have remained consistent since the start of the Company. We've grown over the years and now have almost 9,000 employees with facilities throughout British Columbia, Alberta and nine of the southern U.S. states.
We remind ourselves every day of the values and principles on which the Company was founded. They are as important today as ever as we pursue our goal of being the leading forest product company in North America.
President and Chief Executive Officer