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About Us and Our Experience

Donald Franks

Hello, my name is Donald Franks. I am the owner of Shade One Awnings and the author of this website. In 2002, I started Shade One Awnings. I had one pick-up truck and my grandmother’s basement. Seriously, that first year we stored the retractable awnings in her basement. When we needed to take an awning out or put one in, we had to remove the small basement window completely and carefully pass the awnings through the window opening into the driveway. The following year I rented some commercial space and made my grandma very happy. For the next four years I subcontracted every retractable awning installation I could find from dealers and contractors all over New Jersey and New York City. It was during those years and after many installations that I established myself as an expert with retractable awnings.


It was also during those early years at Shade One Awnings that a growing number of NJ homeowners were hiring me to install a new DIY retractable awning kit from SunSetter. I was installing one almost every day. The famous SunSetter TV infomercial was pushing sales and homeowners were loving the product. Sunsetter had been selling awning kits for many years but this was a different design. This was a motorized awning and it was free standing without any side legs. As an installer, a few things jumped out at me right away. First, the awning was packaged extremely well for shipment. Next, the awning was heavy and built like a Sherman tank. I knew from my extensive installation work that the awning was quality. They used the best, Somfy brand motors and a thick, laminated fabric canopy that was 100% water proof. At the time, SunSetter did not have authorized dealers but I started calling them anyway to establish a relationship. I made sure SunSetter knew who I was and that I was providing support to their customers by providing professional retractable awning installations all over NJ.

Don Franks

In 2006, after receiving positive feedback from customers that hired us for installations, SunSetter invited us to be one of their first authorized dealers in New Jersey. It was an incredible opportunity and challenge to maintain the corporate standards of a national brand. I only hired people that I knew were experts with motorized shade systems. Two of the employees from our first year with SunSetter are still employed with Shade One Awnings today; Matt in sales and Terry in Installations. My greatest business achievement is the preservation of these relationships after so many years. Today, SunSetter is the best-selling awning in America with a network of dealers that has sold over one million awnings nationwide. On the local level, Shade One continues to expand westward into Pennsylvania with our growing team of experts. We now have a fleet of pickup trucks, a proper above ground warehouse with offices and a showroom in Toms River, NJ.

SunSetter awning

In 2024, Shade One Awnings continues to grow alongside SunSetter. Each year hundreds of families throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania choose Shade One for their awning project. In 2021 we were invited to be on the inaugural SunSetter dealer council. The council consisted of a few, elite dealers that provided expert support to the SunSetter corporate officers and other dealers. In 2023 we were invited to return to the council for another two-year term. In that same year we were also elected to the prestigious Presidents Club group of dealers. The Presidents Club is awarded to only one dealer each year based on performance in sales, service and installations. There are 450 dealers nationwide.


Shade One Awnings supports the South Toms River Youth Baseball program.

Shade One Awnings serves all of central and south Jersey from our Toms River location.


  • New Jersey Home Improvement Contractors License # 13VH04664600
  • IFAI Member (Industrial Fabrics Association International) Headquartered in Minneapolis, MN
  • Registered business with the Monmouth County Department of Consumer Affairs in Freehold, NJ
  • Registered business with the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs in Newark, NJ
  • Registered business with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) in Trenton, NJ (A+ Rating)
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