Finding the right gear

Dune Buggy Supply Owner Sam Weyandt caters to customers with specialty Volkswagen parts and repairs. (Adam Gruenewald/The Times)

by Adam Gruenewald
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A new NYA business is reaching customers both locally and widespread with a customized and extreme specialty offerings.
Catering to vintage Volkswagen vans and buses, Dune Buggy Supply Company owner Sam Weyandt is ready to meet the needs of his customers.
Certainly finding the right gear in his business, Sam Weyandt opened Dune Buggy Supply Company in NYA in May, continuing the legacy of Bill Jenkins of Minnetonka who passed away on Dec. 22, 2015.
Jenkins opened Dune Buggy Supply Company in 1968 during the boom of the fiberglass dune buggy era, first operating out of Minneapolis as a moving shop before settling on Excelsior Boulevard in Hopkins in the late 1970’s.
“It was that old Volkswagen shop that everybody knew in the area,” said Weyandt, adding everyone knew Jenkins as well. “He was pretty well known in the racing community and the building community.”
In about 2000, Weyandt, a 1999 Eden Prairie High School graduate and proud owner of a 1973 VW bus, came to Jenkins when he moved from the Hopkins location to Minnetonka.
At the time there was a row of about 10 buses and parts vans that made up the fence of the business, and Weyandt sought the vans.
“If you take all of this fence apart you can take the vans,” said Weyandt. “It was a huge chore and they were filled with junk. So we needed to use the torch. I ended up getting familiar with it.”
Once that job was completed, Weyandt, the son of Ruthanne and Mark, a carpenter, of Eden Prairie where he and his brother Ted first learned to tinker with machinery, carpentry and houses, stayed on.
“I came back and said ‘what’s next?’ and he kept me busy,” said Weyandt. “He saw I had a knack for engines and repair and I just sort of worked my way in and was his right-hand man from there.”
Over the years, Weyandt, 36, learned all there was to know first-hand from Jenkins, a patient, strong, knowledgeable and funny mentor.
“He was the ‘bug man’ and he knew it all,” he said. “I miss all that knowledge, but he showed me enough to hang with it. He was in his work mode until he couldn’t walk and he was a tough guy.”
Much like Jenkins, Weyandt stays busy as his wife Chris are raising their three children Autumn, 19, Della, 11, and Lewis, 8, on a 20-acre farm in Carver, and Weyandt, also the owner of six Volkswagen buses, prefers an outdoor life.
“I do all I can in the 24 hours that I’m given,” said Weyandt. “We work hard and have fun. Everything that I’m into is stuff I enjoy. I enjoy the work.”
Certainly old-school when it comes to technology, Weyandt prefers calls from customers and calls have been coming in from across the state and broader areas as well with hobbyist customers seeking a specific part, such as a speedometer, or the specialty repair job as he might be one of the last Volkswagen shops in the Midwest.
“I look forward to having a busy year,” he said. “A lot of my clientele comes from the city and having to drag them out a little ways and so far so good. There’s a lot of activity and excitement.”
Admitting some hesitation, Weyandt is ready for the challenge of operating his own business in NYA, ready for customers.
“There’s risk and financial (worries),” he said. “Are the customers going to show up? Is the Volkswagen going to fade away? All that stuff. I enjoy it and I’m going to give it a go and so far so good. Keeping customers happy is the goal and hopefully I’ll do it for a while.”
Located at 215 Reform Street North in NYA, Dune Buggy Supply Company is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
For more information, call 952-938-8877.

Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.