I've made a couple boards and spoken with a few shapers. Shapers aren't rich. The cost effective ones have a bit of cash but by no standards are they rich. I mean Al Merrick has to have fund raisers to get money for his grandaughters radiation and chemo treatment. He sold his company to Burton Snow boards for a pretty good wad a few years back. Even the really well known ones in Encenitas have to pay for Socal living so they contract with Firewire, Tuflite, and so on because they have more cost effetive factories in Thailand and china to make boards more cheaply just to make enough to live the dream. It would have been easier to get a realestate license and try to sell OC, LA, and San Diego property for $$$$ commisions. Instead they are shaping and marketing as best they can. These guys are lucky they don't make boards in MP3 format and people can't down load them over the INTERWEB!
Buy your shaper a six pack when you pick up your board!