From Albuquerque Journal, 2/2015 (by Glen Rosales): Mike Otero knows a thing or two about going long. A former All-State wide receiver and defensive back at West Mesa High School, who later went on to play football at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, Otero didn’t hesitate when asked to jump from his comfort zone at Albuquerque’s Rich Ford to help out at the Rich Ford Edgewood store.

That was 13 years ago. Instead of that becoming a temporary gig, Edgewood soon became home for Otero, who began running the dealership himself six years ago.

“The way we did things back then, I had a background in everything,” he said. “So when the general manager had to leave or go on vacation, I was able to step in and keep things running smoothly.”

It was a chance for Otero to continue to grow with the company for which he has worked since 1986. His older brother, David Otero Jr., originally fueled his desire to become an auto salesman after seeing a wad of cash that the elder Otero – who worked at a long-gone auto dealership – pulled out one day when the brothers went to lunch. Mike Otero was managing a small convenience store in Grants at the time, which was not exactly his life’s ambition. So he called Dennis Snyder, then the new-car sales manager for Rich Ford.

But Snyder told Otero he needed experience and that there were no openings, so Otero went to work selling cars in Grants before moving to Albuquerque for another dealership. After about six months, a spot opened up at Rich Ford and Otero landed the position. And now he’s got his own store, albeit a bit of a hike from Albuquerque.

“We’re not Albuquerque so we have to do things differently out here,” Otero said. “We don’t get a lot of walk-in traffic. We’re a big part of the community here. The people we sell cars to, we see in the bank or when we go out to eat.”

One of the big things the store does is hold an annual dealership anniversary celebration that coincides with Edgewood’s incorporation in August, with a big business party that includes booths for all the local businesses, entertainment and capped by a large fireworks show.

“People come from all over for it,” Otero said. “The fireworks display is amazing.”