PGH Maker Profile: TROIKA Skateboards
Sharing the stories behind the most talented creatives in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.
Dave Kaule and Dan Rugh are known movers and shakers around Pittsburgh, it’s just a fact. From Dave’s Monster Trike Night to Dan’s CWP Beer Barge (and many more in between), some of the raddest events in town are from the minds of these two standup guys. They’re both creative minds with outgoing personalities, so it only made sense when the two good friends teamed up to form something new, and that something turned out to be TROIKA Skateboards.
Three of Troika’s current line of eight deck designs.
Tell us a little bit about how you got your start with TROIKA Skateboards.
Dave: About 10 years ago I had a skateboard company called Triad Skateboards. It was growing really fast, but some unfortunate things happened in my life which caused me to derail a bit. That ultimately brought an end to Triad Skateboards. Three or four years ago Dan Rugh and I were trying to work together. He had asked me if I would want to start Triad back up, but that was a time in my life I wanted to leave in the past. He suggested a completely new company and at first I wasn’t sure about it. I realized it was all I was thinking about though so it only made sense. We knew the vibe and feel we both wanted for the company and just needed a name and artwork. That was something that came to us over a few beers and tacos.
Dan: I honestly dont know – I guess me and Dave had been back and forth with a billion projects we wanted to do together and TROIKA just seemed so dead on perfect for the way we interact with each other. Pretty vague but dead on true.
Dave showing off some well-earned skills. Photo: Casey Kovach
What’s your favorite part of the process? Your least favorite?
Dave: I would have to say working with Dan is my favorite part. We both are hyperactive thinkers and come up with some off the wall stuff. I think in terms of partnership dynamics there might be some talking down from some stupid goofy idea and instead we encourage each other to even go further with said idea. As far as the least favorite part I really don’t have one. I really enjoy all of it.
Dan: I love the art end of it. Designing the decks, working with illustrators on their ideas for decks, planning out the line, merch ideas. My least favorite is trying to pay attention to what needs done production-wise. This whole thing is a really fun side project so we both treat it like that – a lot of things get ignored until they are on fire or screaming or bleeding.
Dave and Dan talking shop while Dave’s pup, Chloe, takes notes.
What other makers inspire you most?
Dave: I have a number of local makers that stoke me out. To name a few: I love illustrations from Mike Budai, everyday balloons, and Joe Mruk. Jeff Justus of Penn Soul makes art both visually and musically, and he has been experimenting with some custom handmade sidewalk surfer skateboards that are incredible. Lastly Wendy Downs of Moop, her bags are beautifuly designed and manufactured by her here in Pittsburgh.
Dan: I get super stoked on strawberry luna. I think Kim Fox is killing it regularly. Sapling Press is always on top of this list, too. Matt Dayak can make anything out of anything. I think Moop is a local treasure.
Hell, theres this lady up in Benezette, PA that carves egg shells all crazy and puts hinges on them with little moving doors and windows – my grandpa knew her and took me there when I was about 9 and I’ve never forgotten it. This could go on forever.
Decks stacked up in Commonwealth Press for sale.
Where do you see TROIKA in 5 years?
Dave: I think I speak for Dan and myself when I say we just want to see TROIKA keepin’ skateboarding movin’ in a positive direction. Getting the younger generation hyped and involved with skateboarding in Pittsburgh.
TROIKA shirts up for grabs at Commonwealth Press.
What makes having a small business in Pittsburgh so great?
Dave: Pittsburgh has a great community of doers. People doing cool shit for the love of what it is they are doing. I love skateboarding and I am stoked to be a part of the Pittsburgh small business community.
Dan: I don’t want to talk about it because everyone will want to move here and screw it all up.
Dave during a session. Photo: Matt DayakPosted In create, graphics, illustration, pittsburgh