For 44 years Jared Smith has done what, for most, would be unpleasant business. He was hired by O&G in 2001, moving from another contractor, to collect bad debts for O&G. Nine years later Jared became credit manager and his duties expanded. He says matter-of-factly, “Every day you heard a different story. I grew to like it.” Most excuses were legitimate and O&G was always willing to work out terms with the indebted when, in Jared’s eyes, they were giving him “the straight scoop.” But as the years advanced, having trained his eventual replacement and lamenting the erosion of the days of handshake deals and one’s word being one’s bond, he was quite ready to retire. Now Jared works (it’s not a hobby, he insists in his low-key way) on his legacy Christmas tree farm, Smith Farm, in his home town of Guilford. His house sits on part of an 80-acre farm started by his dad in 1955 where the family once sold as many as 500 trees a season. He works it with his wife Betty, who goes by “B.J.”, whose help is limited: she is highly allergic to bees and poison ivy, two unavoidable things when you are a tree farmer. They have a son in Montana with three kids, and a daughter with twins and triplets in Fairfield.