How Fort Wayne, Indiana Is Courting VW To Build New Scouts in the Home of the Original

Scout CEO Scott Keogh visited the area last weekend and even spoke with city officials at an IH truck festival.

byCaleb Jacobs| PUBLISHED Aug 11, 2022 3:44 PM
How Fort Wayne, Indiana Is Courting VW To Build New Scouts in the Home of the Original
Ryan DuVall of Harvester Homecing
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You might have heard that the soon-to-be CEO of Volkswagen's new Scout brand, Scott Keogh, attended a massive International Harvester owners event last weekend. What you might not have known is there's a budding effort to recruit Volkswagen to set up shop in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where the original IH Scout was built. It's certainly in the early stages, but should everything fall into place, it could make history if the new Scouts are manufactured in the same city as the old one.

Harvester Homecoming hosted roughly 17,000 attendees last weekend that eat, sleep, and breathe the IH brand. They're all paying attention to the Volkswagen Group as it resurrects the Scout name, and that's why it was all the more interesting to see Keogh show up. Ryan DuVall, the director of Harvester Homecoming, arranged to shuttle the executive from Fort Wayne International Airport. He didn't do so in a limousine, however; he posted up outside baggage claim with an IH Scout from every generation.

"He sat in a couple of 'em and it was like, you know, a kid at a truck show," DuVall said. "But the best part of it was, I stood back and I said, 'Why don't you choose?' I let him pick which Scout took him from the airport to the hotel and he picked the Scout 80, the '64."

"It was the highlight of my life as a truck enthusiast," DuVall continued. "That moment, seeing the look on his face when he saw every Scout you can imagine lined up there."

DuVall told me that Keogh spoke with each of the owners, three of which were former IH employees. He seemed to express genuine interest in their stories, learning what makes people so passionate about Scouts. Keogh then took this knowledge into a sit-down meeting with city officials.

"He met with the mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana; the mayor of New Haven, Indiana; the head of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.; and Allen County commisioner Therese M. Brown," DuVall said.

Keough talks to, from left: Fort Wayne mayor Tom Henry, Allen County commisioner Therese M. Brown, John Urbahns of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., and New Haven, Indiana, mayor Steve McMichael during his visit to the Harvester Homecoming festival.

"He did spend some time talking to the city dignitaries, and I'm trying to help in any way I can," he continued. "If we could get the Scout plant built back in the area where it once was built, to me, it would be making American history. Not many people have tried to build a vehicle that hasn't been built for 42 years; by the time they build it [in 2026], it'll be about 46 years. But if they're able to return to the roots of where it was built in such an IH community with so much love for the brand, it'd make world history."

After hearing this, I reached out to Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry's office for comment and confirmation.

"Mayor Henry and other local leaders had a positive meet and greet with Mr. Keogh," a spokesperson for the mayor replied. "We were honored to have him visit Fort Wayne to learn about our history as part of the Harvester Homecoming event and where we hope to go as a community to be a continued leader in economic development opportunities and quality of life amenities in the Midwest and entire country."

I also contacted the Scout brand for comment but did not hear back after repeated attempts.

While VW hasn't mentioned much about where these new electric off-roaders could be built, it did specify that they'll be designed, engineered, and manufactured in the United States. As DuVall points out, that means pretty much every American city is in play. There are plenty of reasons to pick Fort Wayne, though, as explained.

"I have confidence in the city dignitaries and the county folks to make a strong pitch," DuVall continued. "Fort Wayne is a perfect-sized town for something like that. We're not too metropolitan but we're the second biggest city in the state and we're big enough that we have all the amenities that are needed for an employment base to move here—the housing, the schools, the colleges, everything."

DuVall is currently working on building an IH museum in Fort Wayne. He could very well have picked Chicago, where IH was headquartered, but Indiana is where the brand's history is most celebrated. This is evidenced by the number of people that flock to Harvester Homecoming, which is hosted at a former IH engineering facility.

"I'm confident that after his visit, seeing all the activity we had at our festival, seeing our museum, and seeing the old buildings is only a plus for any pitch we're trying to make," DuVall concluded.

There's a lot at stake, if so, and while it's way too early to place any bets, there looks to be real support from the city of Fort Wayne and surrounding areas. Now we wait to see what route Scout takes in the next four years leading up to the start of production.

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