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Gerdau Ameristeel drops "Ameristeel" to put more emphasis on its brand.

Tampa-based Gerdau Ameristeel is dropping the "Ameristeel" half of its name as part of a global rebranding that embraces the name of its Brazilian parent company, Gerdau.

The name change was announced throughout the organization - including to the company's 450 employees in Tampa - as the steelmaker celebrated its 110th anniversary Tuesday.

"We saw this anniversary as an opportunity to consolidate the image of the Gerdau brand across the globe and particularly for North America, which has always been an important market for our company," Gerdau chief executive Andre B. Gerdau Johannpeter said in a statement.

Going forward, Gerdau Ameristeel's long steel operations here will be known as Gerdau Long Steel North America.

If at least symbolically, the name change signifies a lesser emphasis on steelmaking in America. But Gerdau executives indicated they didn't think the switch will alienate customers.

In fact, the steel industry in North America is already considered global with top players owned by companies in Sweden, Russia and India as well as Brazil, executives pointed out.

"Over the past 110 years, Gerdau has gained a high level of visibility and respect, so as we continue to evolve in the globalized environment and integrate everything we do, one brand is a very positive development," said Mario Longhi, former Gerdau Ameristeel president and CEO who now holds those same titles for Gerdau Long Steel North America.

What is now Gerdau (pronounced ger-DOW) began in 1901 as a small nail factory in Porto Alegre, Brazil, called Pontas de Paris. Today, the company has 45,000 employees and industrial operations in 14 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

The American side of the operation is rooted to the creation of Florida Steel in 1956 and, four years later, the opening of a steel mill in Tampa.

Florida Steel changed its name to Ameristeel in 1996 and then became Gerdau Ameristeel in 2002 when Ameristeel and Gerdau-owned Co-Steel completed the merger of their North American steelmaking operations.

Gerdau Ameristeel was one of the largest publicly traded companies based in the Tampa Bay area until 2010 when Gerdau S.A. spent $1.6 billion to acquire all the outstanding shares of its American subsidiary that it did not already own.