After deboarding the plane, I begin shedding layers. In the jetway, I lose the puffy parka. At the baggage claim, my sweater becomes too stifling. By the time I’m outside waiting for my ride, I’m about ready to kick off my boots and go barefoot.
I’ve escaped the dreary and cold Chicago winter for the warm, saltwater-infused air of Tampa and the chance to catch up with college friends Dave Hibler and Tyler Galganski onboard their Sea Ray 260 Sundancer. And although I instantly understand the appeal of Florida—nearly everyone can agree that sand is better than snow – I’m still surprised that Dave and Tyler have chosen Tampa as their new home. After all, the duo own Forever Lazy, a company that sells adult onesies. Yes, you read that right, adult onesies.
Dave and Tyler came up with the idea for the Forever Lazy after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 2007. Combining their college frat boy mindset with their entrepreneurial spirit, they developed a product that would allow customers to experience maximum laziness. When the cold of winter sets in, what better way to fall into a relaxed stupor than by snuggling up in a fleece onesie? The Forever Lazy is footless, so you can slip on a pair of shoes should you need to venture outdoors, and it features a zippered drop seat. (Hey, you can’t stop the call of nature.)
Forever Lazy has seen incredible success, including an As Seen On TV infomercial; spots on the Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Conan, Chelsea Lately, The Doctors, CNN, Good Morning America, The Colbert Report and Fox News; and a mention in a Kathy Griffin standup comedy routine. Based on this near-instant shot to popularity, Forever Lazy signed on with Allstar Products Group, which owns Snuggie, in 2011. Dave and Tyler, lifelong best friends, then headed for sunny Tampa.
So what are two entrepreneurs who promote the benefits of full-body fleece doing in a place that rarely dips below 50 degrees? “We knew we wanted to move somewhere warmer for a while because we figure we’ll end up back in the Midwest eventually,” Dave says. “So, we Googled ‘best places to live in Florida,’ and Tampa came up.” They couldn’t be happier with the choice they lackadaisically stumbled upon. “Tampa is so laid-back,” Tyler says. “It has a very Midwest feel to it, and the water on this side of Florida is just fantastic.”
The next day we head to Dave and Tyler’s slip at Harbour Island Marina for an afternoon out on this highly touted water. Tim Purtell, a friend from college, and Dave’s girlfriend, Jessica Lambert, join us. The February afternoon is unimaginably perfect. The sky is a crisp blue, without a cloud in sight, and the temperature has warmed to a nice 78 degrees. My Midwestern bones are beginning to thaw, and all thoughts of snuggling up in a Forever Lazy are a distant memory.
“Isn’t this great?” Dave asks, lounging back in the plush aft seating. “And you know what? It never gets old. You’d think we’d start to take it for granted, but we haven’t.” As we head toward Davis Island, two dolphins break the surface of the water. Yes, I could get used to this, too. We check out the private planes stationed at Peter O’Knight Airport and the furry friends romping around Davis Island Dog Park, and then Tyler throws on his captain’s hat and decides to do a loop around Harbour Island.
We pass a tall wooden pirate ship that took center stage at Tampa’s famed Gasparilla event just two weeks prior. Gasparilla is the nation’s largest pirate fest, and an excuse to gather friends and family on the water for a weekend of merrymaking. Dave and Tyler, of course, hosted onboard their spacious Sea Ray. “Needless to say, it was a great day,” Jessica says.
Dave was the initial advocate of buying a boat. Valuing good product with solid execution, he quickly decided on Sea Ray. “We just knew that Sea Ray was top-of-the-line, and we wanted the best,” Dave says. “I called Tyler and said, ‘This is the one.’” Tyler was all in. “We’ve seen other boats of the same size,” he says, “but they’re not as dependable as Sea Ray.”
The few others out on the water this weekend give the friendly boaters’ wave as they pass by. “We love coming out here on Saturdays in the summer when all of the people are out,” Tyler says. “There’s just this nice community feel. People are always visiting us down here, so we bring out a new group of friends each time. Living in Tampa wouldn’t be nearly as fun without our Sea Ray.”
Talk of summer weekends inspires Tyler to head out to one of their favorite waterside haunts, a small patch of land within Hillsborough Bay that Tampa boaters know as Beer Can Island. When we arrive today, several families with young children are mixed in with the more typical crowd of young couples and groups of friends. The shallow water surrounding the island becomes “as warm as bathwater” during the heat of summer, Dave says. Today, the water is decidedly cooler but, perhaps fueled by the beautiful day, Dave decides to hop in and take a spin on his Hyperlite wakeboard.
“People are always visiting us down here, so we bring out a new group of friends each time. Living in Tampa wouldn’t be nearly as fun without our Sea Ray.”
Since moving to the area, Dave has become comfortable on a kneeboard and is beginning to find his confidence on a wakeboard. Jess, who grew up in Jacksonville and was on the water at a young age, is the real pro when it comes to watersports. She puts on her H.O. Sports lifejacket and walks to the swim platform to contemplate her own wakeboard run. One toe in the water, and the answer is a clear no. “I don’t think I can get in there,” she says with a laugh. “But it will be fun to watch Dave!” I guess by Florida standards, this weather isn’t so warm.
Dave gets up on the wakeboard with ease, and we do a few spins until he takes a fall. With his whole body submerged, the water is suddenly much chillier. I shook my head when the guys packed their Forever Lazys onboard this morning, but it’s proven a smart move after all. Dave dries off and slips into the snug onesie to warm up.
As the sun begins to set, Dave takes over the helm from Tyler to head back toward the marina. Though the forecast calls for the week ahead to be just as pleasant as today, Dave and Tyler won’t be getting out as much due to a heavy work week. They are in the process of adding products to the Forever Lazy collection and working on an entirely new business venture. “It looks like another week of 12-hour work days,” Tyler says. “But you can bet we’ll be out here relaxing come next weekend.”
Achieving laziness through hard work? I contemplate this from the comfortable bow of the 260 Sundancer as we idle into the slip at the marina. In a way, the concept aligns with Sea Ray. The high-quality craftsmanship and hard work that go into each Sea Ray off the line allow owners worldwide to experience pure relaxation—to kick back on the water with family and friends and celebrate hard-earned success. Now if only Dave and Tyler could create a pirate-style Forever Lazy, then onesies and boating would be a true match for the Tampa waterways.