Ascent Advisory Partners provides merger & acquisition and strategic advisory services to family and founder-owned companies in the lower middle-market.

Ascent Advisory Partners provides merger & acquisition and strategic advisory services to family and founder-owned companies in the lower middle-market.

About Us

Ascent Advisory Partners (“Ascent”) is a boutique advisory firm providing merger & acquisition and strategic advisory services to family and founder-owned companies.

Ascent was formed to provide lower middle-market companies access to the high-quality investment banking services available to larger businesses.  We focus exclusively on providing merger & acquisition advisory services to private companies in the lower middle-market, defined as companies with between $2 million and $9 million in EBITDA. We promise our clients:

  • A commitment to executional excellence with experienced Managing Directors leading all phases of the M&A process;
  • Unbiased, insightful advice with the highest level of confidentiality and integrity and without conflicts of interest;
  • Transaction processes customized to the unique needs of each of our clients; and
  • Success measured by achieving outstanding results that meet or exceed client expectations.

As a result of our commitment to active day-to-day involvement by our Managing Directors, we are selective in the mandates we undertake with an emphasis on fewer, high-quality engagements.  We seek to establish a true partnership with our clients based on aligned interests and a compensation structure that is fair based on lower middle-market transaction values.

For most owners of family and founder-owned companies, selling their business is a once-in-a-lifetime event.  Engaging an experienced advisor that will provide outstanding guidance and support, combined with flawless execution, is critical to a successful outcome.


The Managing Directors and Advisory Partners of Ascent maintain a broad range of experience and transaction expertise. The Managing Directors previously served in senior M&A roles at national, regional and boutique M&A firms. The firm’s Advisory Partners have substantial experience as trusted advisers to family-owned businesses related to all aspects of transitioning to new ownership.

Managing Directors

Gordon Watt

Managing Director & Co-Founder

Prior to founding Ascent, Gordon was a Managing Director in the Corporate & Investment Banking Group at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey from 2001 to 2019. Gordon’s responsibilities included origination and execution of merger & acquisition transactions with an emphasis on sell-side assignments as well as capital raising transactions such as equity raises and debt financings. Prior to SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Gordon was a senior member of the Investment Banking Group at The Robinson-Humphrey Company, a division of Citigroup, from 1992 until 2001. At Robinson-Humphrey, Gordon was responsible for sourcing and executing merger & acquisition transactions and equity financings. Gordon’s industry focus areas have included Consumer & Retail, Food & Beverage, Industrial, Business Services, Transportation & Logistics and Healthcare. Prior to Robinson-Humphrey, Gordon worked at JPMorgan (formerly Chemical Bank) in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group and the Corporate Finance Group where his responsibilities included execution of sell-side M&A transactions.

Gordon received a B.S. degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters in Management from the J.L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Gordon is a registered representative with FINRA and maintains Series 7, 63 and 79 licenses.

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Andy Mason

Managing Director & Co-Founder

Prior to founding Ascent, Andy was a Managing Director and a Co-Founder of VRA Partners, an investment banking firm focused on providing M&A and capital raising advisory services to middle-market companies and private equity firms. Prior to founding VRA Partners, Andy was a Managing Director, Co-Head of the Private Markets Group and a senior member of the Mergers & Acquisitions Group at The Robinson-Humphrey Company and its successor, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. Andy’s responsibilities included the management of merger & acquisition and private placement assignments as well as managing the firm’s activities with all sources of private capital. Andy was also a member of the Investment Committee of SunTrust Equity Partners, the private equity vehicle for SunTrust Bank. Prior to SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Andy worked in the private equity industry as a professional with River Capital and Trivest Partners (private equity firms focused on the acquisition of middle-market companies) where he was responsible for sourcing, structuring, closing and managing control equity investments. Andy began his career in corporate finance with GE Capital’s Corporate Finance Group where he was engaged in financing, and investing in, leveraged transactions. Andy’s industry sectors of focus have included Business Services, IT Services, Software, Utility Products & Services, Healthcare, Food & Beverage and Consumer Products.

Andy received a B.S. degree in Accounting from Auburn University and a Masters in Business Administration from Emory University. Andy is a registered representative with FINRA and maintains Series 7, 24 and 63 licenses.

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Advisory Partners

Stephen Griner

Advisory Partner

Stephen has spent his career in the financial services industry working with owners of privately-held companies in the areas of exit planning and investment management. During his career, he has consulted with companies at every stage of development, from startup to sale. Stephen is President & COO and a Co-Founder of NAVIX Consultants, which helps owners of closely-held businesses plan for successful exits by achieving financial freedom, creating a sustainable legacy, and exiting on their own terms. Today, NAVIX has a growing network of consultants nationwide working to fulfill its mission.

Stephen received a B.A. degree, cum laude, in Finance from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. He is a CFA® charterholder and a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Atlanta.

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Patrick Ungashick

Advisory Partner

For more than twenty-five years, Patrick has provided exit advice and solutions to business owners with companies as small as several million in revenues to more than $500 million. Patrick is the author of two books helping business owners prepare for exit: Dance in the End Zone: The Business Owner’s Exit Planning Playbook, and the award-winning A Tale of Two Owners: Achieving Exit Success Between Business Co-Owners. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Week and other media. He speaks to several dozen business groups per year regarding how to achieve successful exits. As CEO & Co-Founder of NAVIX Consultants, Patrick leads a national team of exit planning consultants located in nearly two dozen US cities.

Patrick received a B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

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Merger & Acquisition Advisory Services

Ascent provides sell-side merger & acquisition advisory services.  We develop and execute highly customized and successful sale processes designed to help business owners achieve their specific personal and business objectives.  We are highly fluent and effective in identifying and accessing the appropriate strategic and financial buyers that maintain an interest in acquisitions in the lower middle-market. 

Every transaction is unique and the approach we recommend is governed by the specific objectives of the business owner.  Our merger & acquisition advisory services provide guidance and support for a wide range of situations facing sellers and a variety of transaction scenarios including: 

  • Execution of broad auction processes targeting both strategic and financial buyers;  
  • Execution of highly targeted sale processes typically including a focused group of high-probability strategic buyers;
  • Assisting business owners in discussions and negotiations with an identified buyer; and
  • Execution of recapitalization processes whereby a business owner sells a non-controlling equity stake.

Ascent is often involved, and sometimes formally engaged, well in advance of the sale of a business.  Getting to know a business and its owner well before the launch of a sale process enables us to provide more thorough:

  • Suggestions for improving the attractiveness and marketability of the company;
  • Insights into market conditions;
  • Recommendations regarding the optimal buyer universe; 
  • Advice related to a customized transaction process; and 
  • Guidance regarding the prospective timing of a process.

Strategic Advisory Services

Ascent provides strategic advisory services centered around business strategy, acquisition strategy and capital structure. We help business owners determine a path forward and provide support along the way utilizing our merger & acquisition and capital markets expertise.

Our strategic advisory services include:

  • Assisting companies with the development and execution of an acquisition strategy as well as the evaluation of acquisition opportunities; and
  • Analyzing capital structures and determining the most appropriate financing options in order to achieve specific objectives.


Transaction Experience

Our Managing Directors maintain over 60 years of combined merger & acquisition experience and have closed over 125 sell-side and buy-side transactions representing over $9 billion in transaction value.

Industry Experience

Although we are industry agnostic, we maintain expertise across a broad range of industries and have executed transactions within many industry sectors including:

  • Business Services
  • Consumer Products & Services
  • Food & Beverage
  • Retail & E-Commerce
  • Healthcare Services
  • Industrial Products & Services
  • Technology & Software
  • Transportation & Logistics

Contact Us

Please contact us for more information or to discuss a specific advisory need.


2100 Riveredge Parkway, Suite 1230
Atlanta, GA 30328



Ascent Advisory Partners