May 2009

Reel Screens: Retractable Screens/No Weaknesses

Author: Craig Hysell | Photographer: photography by anne

It’s raining outside the Reel Screens workshop—one of those dull, steady, gray days that seems to drag on endlessly and is great for a nap. Inside, the Reel Screens workshop is a different story, and naps don’t exist.

Eric Schoeppe has the look of a man who gets things done for a living. He diffuses his imposing, blue-collar attire with the relaxed demeanor of someone confident and knowledgeable in his cause. No braggadocio, no sales pitch, just work boots, calloused hands and a satisfied grin. Part of Eric’s demeanor could be a Darwinian nature versus nurture argument (which would be a completely different article altogether) and part of it could be his product. Retractable screens are pretty freakin’ awesome.

Reel Screens has been in the United States for 10 years, coming over from Italy—where retractable screens technology originated—and settling in Escondido, California. The company divided up its territory with some go-getter style: east of the Mississippi was one territory (including Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas), west was the other, and then they went to work. Since about 2003, Schoeppe had handled the servicing and installation of the Reel Screens products throughout the Lowcountry. But his path to the industry was more of a “road less traveled” than a paved, yellow-brick affair.

Schoeppe, a cabinet maker by trade, was asked if he could build a home show display for Reel Screens one year. He had never dealt with retractable screens before, was handed a set of instructions and told to build a display with a door which showcased the screen. Schoeppe, bright guy that he is, rose to the occasion. “I did it and it just blew me away,” he said. “I thought it was the coolest thing ever.” Indeed.

The folks over in Italy have been refining the reel screen technology for the past 20 years. As a result, the mystery, sleekness, durability and simplicity of retractable screens can seem downright magical. “The manuals [manually operated screens] we can do on virtually any door or window,” said Schoeppe, demonstrating the product on a French door in his office. He laterally slides the retractable screen shut across the open doorway smoothly and then it disappears into its small, unobtrusive reel housing when opened again. It completely lacks any of the cumbersome or unsightly features usually accompanied by a sliding screen. It is one of the coolest things ever.

They can flip them horizontal so they can be pulled down. They can be retro-fitted to fit existing doors, including out-swing French doors. All the manufactured parts come with a lifetime warranty. Schoeppe does all the servicing himself. The screen doors use a magnetic seal, have easily adjustable handle heights and no track slides. The spring-loaded screen mesh itself is made from a weatherproof, PVC-coated fiberglass that gives way when walked into in order to prevent tearing and then snaps back into place once the pressure is released. (Perfect for the kids, or that cocktail party.) The aluminum is powder-coated. The screws are made from stainless steel. “We gear it toward this climate,” said Schoeppe.

Reel Screens can be put away when you’re not using them, tucked neatly inside their small housing—safe and protected from weather. They can be machine-operated with a remote; taking your lovely patio from open-air to screened-in when the bugs get bad in 10 seconds. The manual door screens offer yet another option. “A lot of people around here have real nice front doors. They don’t want to block them with a storm door. Reel Screens blend in with the trim; we have nine different colors you can choose from, or custom colors which we blend in with the trim, so you don’t have to block that beautiful front door,” said Schoeppe. Then, for the eco-minded, there’s the energy you can save by opening up the front and backdoors to that pleasant breeze on a nice day. All you have to do is slide your Reel Screens closed and shut down the ac unit. (Also cool in a bad pun sort of way.)

Schoeppe works with some very high-end, reputable builders on the island, including Palatial Homes, William Byrd, John Clark and Tom Peeples. He is currently wrapping up his retractable screens project over at Marriott’s Barony Beach Club: 253 rooms with two screens per room. “When they keep coming back,” said Eric, “we know we’re doing something right.” But Reel Screens loves the little guy. Schoeppe installs manual retractable screens for most private residences with a same day guarantee.
So, is there a weakness? Schoeppe smiles that confident grin and folds his craftsman’s hands neatly on his desk, “I haven’t come across any yet.”

Call (843) 422-1789 for more information or visit

  1. great idea, I really love the archway screens for an outside room. Do you have a price list?

    — Dawn Beavers    Jun 2, 09:49 pm   

Let Us Know what You Think ...

commenting closed for this article