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posted: 7/28/2012 6:25 PM

Mt. Prospect resident pioneered the business of site selection

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  • Robert Ady

      Robert Ady

  • Robert Ady and daughter, Karen Buellesbach.

      Robert Ady and daughter, Karen Buellesbach.


Known internationally as a business site selection specialist, Robert Ady pioneered the evolution of a fledgling industry into a respected profession while still finding time to go camping with his kids and take the occasional kayak trip to Mongolia.

Ady, a Mount Prospect resident, died July 22 after battling prostate cancer.

"He was larger than life," daughter Karen Buellesbach said Saturday. "He made friends wherever he went."

When he started as a consultant, corporate site selection was a little-known specialty. Ady worked at Fantus Consulting, which was later acquired by Deloitte & Touche, serving as its president. He retired from Fantus and co-founded the economic development organization World Business Chicago, then went on to establish Ady International Consulting in 2001.

"He located more facilities than any other individual in the United States," daughter Janet Ady said.

The business of site selection -- finding the right fit and place for a company seeking to relocate -- requires a detailed mind and intuition, Janet Ady said. It's also a highly individual career; however, Robert Ady founded a professional association -- the Site Selectors Guild in 2010.

"Most of these guys work on their own; this was a chance for them to learn from each other," Janet Ady said.

Aside from his professional life, Robert Ady served as an alderman in Park Ridge, a volunteer at Park Ridge Community Church and tribe leader with the Indian Guides and Indian Princesses.

"He extended his joy of life by including our friends on many family vacations," Buellesbach said.

"Our house was the one everyone wanted to go after school; we had the best treats and coolest parents," she said.

Robert Ady traveled extensively, visiting all seven continents with his wife, Nancy. His travel extended from regular trips to Wisconsin to an adventure in Mongolia where a kayak capsized in an icy river, but didn't deter him.

"He had a natural curiosity," Buellesbach said.

Since his death, accolades have poured in to remember a "godfather" of the profession, Ady's daughters said. One email from a former colleague noted, "he was the best-informed person I ever came upon in economic development. On perhaps a hundred occasions, I asked his unbiased opinion or advice. He always answered honestly and insightfully without one iota of self-interest."

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 18 at Park Ridge Community Church.

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