There's a new sign outside the industrial plant at 5601 Eastern Ave. in Baltimore. Miles Inc. changed its name to Bayer Corp. yesterday, curing a decades-long headache for the famous aspirin inventor.
The story behind the name change begins at the end of World War I, when the United States confiscated the U.S. operations of Bayer AG, a German company. Bayer lost its name and the well-known Bayer cross trademark.
Even as the company grew into a multinational giant, Bayer couldn't operate in the United States and Canada with its own name, instead doing business as Miles Inc. But the company wanted the name back and finally acquired the rights last year when it bought Sterling Winthrop's North American over-the-counter drug business. Sterling had been using the Bayer name.
The change became official yesterday at the more than 50 sites of Miles Inc. in the United States and Canada. One of the sites is on Eastern Avenue, where 145 workers in the industrial chemicals division make enamel and ceramic coatings for appliances, tiles, bathtubs and sinks and many other products.
The Baltimore plant has had a number of names over the years. It began in 1911 as the Baltimore Ornamental Iron Works Inc., founded by brothers Karl and Heinrich Turk.
The Bayer Group is a $27 billion company. It has 147,000 employees in 140 countries.