More than five years after purchasing Wake Effects in Osage Beach, Mo., Rusty Rahm has decided to part ways with the Lake of the Ozarks’ retail/boat dealership and service center. Rahm, the driver and owner of the Wake Effects Offshore Racing Team that won the 2016 Superboat Unlimited class world championship and finished third in Key West, Fla., this year, came to terms recently with the revitalized Big Thunder Marine on the acquisition of the lake’s go-to wakesports dealership and retail facility.

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The newly merged Big Thunder Marine and Wake Effects teams enjoyed breakfast together on Friday. Photo by Clint Schaffnit

“Wake Effects has been a huge passion of mine for many years, just like racing over the last few years, but I’ve come to a point in my life and with my other business ventures that I need to focus on those other ventures and spending more time with my family,” said Rahm, who had a serious medical scare with his spinal chord that required emergency surgery a few months after his son, Christian, checked into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in January for help dealing with seizure issues (read the story). “Ultimately I’ve decided to turn the company over to the best hands possible—Big Thunder Marine. Because of the team the company has assembled over the last year and a half, including general manager Jeremy Anderson, I’m confident Big Thunder gives Wake Effects the greatest growth opportunity.”

While interviewing Rahm, who plans to continue racing, it was clear how much he loves his employees and wants only the best for them moving forward.

“I purposely didn’t shop the company around to other potential buyers,” he added. “I felt like Big Thunder afforded our guys the best opportunity in terms of growing the business. Between its dedication to the sport and the lake as well as Jeremy’s longtime experience with the MasterCraft brand, Wake Effects should be in great hands.”

According to Rahm and Anderson, the Wake Effects employees are being retained and the company, which will be called “Wake Effects by Big Thunder” will remain in the same location at least until the end of 2018.

“I think we can do great things with Wake Effects,” said Anderson, who has been a MasterCraft dealer with two different companies before taking the job with Big Thunder in 2015 prior to the company acquiring Tritoon Town, Lake Ozarks Marine and Glencove Marina. “Not only does the acquisition give us one of the top brands in the industry in MasterCraft, but we’re also getting the best guys at the lake. The team really is the most important part. As a whole, Wake Effects is going to give Big Thunder a fresh perspective and deliver superb talent to the business in terms of marketing, graphic elements, videos, web design, apparel and more.”

Anderson said he anticipates the Wake Effects brand having a sizable presence in the new Big Thunder Marine showroom that’s expected to open in January. By expanding the Wake Effects pro shop/retail side of the business into Big Thunder Marine’s showroom as well as its on-water facilities, Anderson expects to increase the Wake Effects business significantly.

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Big Thunder Marine's new showroom in Osage Beach, Mo., is expected to be ready for business early next year (click image to enlarge).

“Personally, I’ve been around MasterCraft my whole career so I’m excited to be reunited the brand,” Anderson said. “From Big Thunder’s standpoint, we want to own your dock, meaning we want 100 percent of the boats on your dock to come from and be cared for by one of our brands. Between the marinas, the showrooms, the pro shops and the wide range of boats—both new and pre-owned—you don’t need to go anywhere else.”

One believer that Wake Effects and MasterCraft are going to thrive as part of Big Thunder is Matt McDevitt, MasterCraft’s sales manager of the Americas who said he’s known Anderson for nearly 20 years and praised the general manager’s skill set.

“Wake Effects has done a spectacular job for MasterCraft over the last several years,” McDevitt said. “Under the leadership of Rusty, Wake Effects has developed an amazingly strong team and become the place to go at Lake of the Ozarks for equipment, lessons and anything else related to watersports. The Wake Effects acquisition is especially exciting for us because it provides an opportunity for additional distribution between Big Thunder’s multiple locations around the lake and its new first-class showroom. Lake of the Ozarks is such a large boating market. So for MasterCraft to have an increased presence and the opportunity to help expose more people at the lake to watersports activities, we couldn’t be happier about the news.”

Although he’s turning over Wake Effects, Rahm is retaining the rights to Wake Effects Offshore Racing and plans to continue running his 48-foot MTI catamaran at several events next season including races organized by Super Boat International, Offshore Powerboat Association and the newly formed Race World Offshore. Rahm said he’s in negotiations with a title sponsor, which he hopes to announce early next year.

Anderson said he told Rahm to count on future support from Big Thunder.

“We wish Rusty all the best,” Anderson said. “We still plan to have a relationship with him and the race team. He has a lot of personal stake in the Wake Effects business and the people here so obviously he wants to see his team excel under new leadership. We’re excited the team is becoming part of the family. We’re a family-owned business and we really are all like one big family. Now we have even more to offer the family boater.” 

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