Sunesta History

A Tradition of Innovation: The History of Sunesta Shade Systems

More than 30 years ago, the founders of Sunesta Shade Systems had an idea that transformed the American awning industry.

It was 1976 and the future owners of Sunesta, Rick and Georgia Bedard, operated a custom awning fabrication business in Jacksonville, Florida. At the time, commercial and residential awnings were produced and sold through local shops. As a result of their industry affiliation, the Bedards recognized a need for customizable, pre-manufactured retractable awnings.

Sunesta Products opened for business in 1981; becoming the first manufacturing company in North America to offer a national line of ready-to-install retractable awnings. By 1984, Sunesta required its first facility expansion to accommodate the growing number of orders received.

Initiating a tradition of pioneering, technological advances, Sunesta began the process of inventing, developing, and integrating Computer-Aided Awning Manufacturing (CAM) software and machines in 1985 at its Jacksonville, Florida manufacturing facility in order to keep pace with its rapid growth.

In 1987, Sunesta launched a 10-year expansion plan with the construction of an all new facility.  This facility was planned and built to accommodate the demand for quality retractable awnings, custom made in five days or less. The expansion was completed, on schedule, in 1998 with the addition of a new office, customer service department and production facility to five times the original size. The 65,000 square foot manufacturing facility was computer controlled; CAM operated and painstakingly organized to produce perfectly crafted, precisely customized retractable awnings with the industry’s fastest turnaround time.

2008 marked the completion of the fourth facility expansion for Sunesta, this time with the goal of stocking the materials necessary to continue producing our retractable awnings within a five business-day production time.

As the pioneer in manufacturing customized retractable awnings, it’s no secret that Sunesta Shade Systems are built to last. As a company, we are proud of our tradition of innovation and engineering excellence. Our products are more than precisely crafted; they also offer a number of benefits to homeowners, such as the ability to block the sun, but preserve exterior views. In addition, homeowners can expand their outdoor living spaces while beautifying their homes.

Sunesta’s product line includes retractable patio awning models and retractable window and door awning models that are available in a range of widths up to 40′ and projections up to 14’8″, depending on the model selected. With the widest variety of features and options in the industry, and a selection of over 130 fabric patterns, homeowners have the ability to completely customize their Sunesta Shade System, creating the perfect fit and style for their homes.

Sunesta Innovations


Introduced ready-to-install complete awning systems (The Sunesta) through a dealer network | Developed miniature working retractable awning model to help homeowners envision how an awning functions | Offered the first colored frames | Achieved 10-workday production turnaround


Introduced The Sunbrero and The Sundrop window and door models


Created first Sunesta exclusive fabric collection


Introduced gear stops to prevent over-extending the awning


Introduced weatherproof plug-in motor controls


Introduced The Sunlight patio awning


Introduced the first two cable arm with PVC coverings


Established 5-year motor exchange program to replace motors under warranty


Achieved 5-workday production turnaround


Introduced first company-specific fabric book


Introduced Plug-in ShadeTM motor, which uses an ordinary AC outlet


Introduced a four cable patio awning arm


Introduced the 14’8″ patio awning projection


Introduced Sunstyle retractable patio awning | Introduced the SmartCode custom product ID number


Expanded facility to support future growth


Expanded and upgraded our Screen product line.


Introduced the Sunplus retractable pergola and patio cover with the largest projection coverage of its kind


Became first (and only) retractable awning to receive Miami Dade Product Approval


Became first (and only) retractable awning to receive Florida Building Product Approval


Introduced one of the largest captured edge screens in the USA – The Large Sentry model


Became first (and only) retractable awning to receive International Building Code Product Approval


Introduced new Exclusive Sunesta Fabric Collection


Moved to larger production facility (doubling previous size) to accommodate future growth.


Celebrated 40 years of Sunesta