Wilco Electronic Systems’ story is proof that a long-standing reputation doesn’t equal stagnancy.
The Fort Washington-based communications company was founded in 1980 by Will Daniel. Wilco was one of the first Black-owned independent cable television providers in the United States. In 2018, Comcast acquired Wilco’s cable assets, but Wilco’s story did not end there.
Under the second-generation leadership of Will Daniel’s daughter, Brigitte Daniel-Corbin, the company pivoted its business model and now installs low-voltage wiring, access control systems, surveillance services and smart technology in commercial and residential buildings.
“We’ve been around for a long time and it hasn’t just been as a cable provider,” said Daniel-Corbin, the CEO and president of Wilco. “A lot of it comes down to the wiring we do. We are the backbone for many people’s homes and their buildings and where they work and play.”
Daniel-Corbin joined Wilco in 2006 as the EVP, making her the first Black woman to hold a C-suite title at an independent cable company in the U.S. Growing up, Daniel-Corbin posed for photos with her father and former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode Sr. She watched as he forged historic deals for Wilco, like its exclusive cable contract with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, signed in 2001.
Daniel-Corbin shaped her professional skills through her studies at Spelman College and subsequently Georgetown University’s law school. She worked in the technology space, holding positions at the FCC and BET. Throughout all of her prior experiences, Daniel-Corbin said she always knew she would land at Wilco one day.
Her chance to step up to Wilco’s leadership team came in 2006, after she worked for the City of Philadelphia’s Minority Business Enterprise Council. Due to her impactful work and digital access advocacy at Wilco, she received the prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship in 2011, traveling to Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia to learn about emerging global technologies. She’s also served on the FFC’s Advisory Committee on Diversity in the Digital Age.
After her father died in April 2021, Daniel-Corbin and Wilco remain committed to providing Philadelphians with the technology they need for the 21st century. Moving forward, she said, she wants Wilco to play a role in assessing and lessening data inequities in the city, especially in the home, as more technology is centered there than ever before.
Read more for a Q&A with Daniel-Corbin about Wilco’s history and where it’s headed.
How did your experiences before you joined Wilco prepare you to head the company?
For one thing, they definitely fostered leadership and taught me how to build successful business relationships. Wilco’s work is very relationship driven, and part of what we do is making sure people are included and involved in the process of deployment, whether that’s our employees or the customers in the community itself.
All my education has geared me toward this role, especially working with minority-led businesses for the City of Philadelphia. We just actually went into contract with the City in June to help assess the internet needs of Philadelphia households.
What motivates you?
Legacy building. Plus, I simply love the work that we do. It’s very unique. I think security and surveillance is one of the most underrated industries because it’s hidden most of the time, but it’s how you access anything, whether it’s your home, whether it’s your work or whether it’s a public space. It is all dictated by access control.
It just seems like it is part of my DNA to do this. It feels like I’m doing my service to take what my family has grown and give it back to the world.
Throughout all the years of Wilco’s work, what’s one facet of the company’s mission that has stayed true?
A commitment to providing technology to communities, especially those who have historically lacked access.
What kind of team will drive Wilco’s future?
A team that matches our culture of camaraderie, collaboration and innovation.-30-