If you love our fine feathered friends and loathe the variant of tree rat called squirrels, Brome Bird Care is for you.

The Knowlton company founded 20 years ago by Paul Côté, makes a feeder called the Squirrel Buster that actually works. Using a weight-sensitive perch system that shuts the seed ports when anything heavier than a bird climbs on it, the Buster keeps squirrels and other critters on the ground, where they belong.

To date, it has sold over 4 million units around the world, generates $14 million a year in sales and employs 12 in its Knowlton headquarters.

For these and other reasons, but mostly because it really does drive rodents crazy, Brome Bird Care has been voted best in class by the prestigious American geek magazine Popular Science.

How, you may ask, did a second-generation local shoemaker scale such heights? As it turns out, for Coté, necessity really is the mother of invention. “When shoemaking went to Asia, my stock and trade went with it,” said the lifelong inventor and tinkerer from his office on Knowlton Rd. recently. “What do I do now?”

“I loved feeding birds, but hated squirrels,” he thought, echoing the sentiments of many. Though there was a pent-up demand for an efficient seed delivery system, it took three years to convince merchants his Squirrel Buster did the job. “The common response was “What? Another one?”

He eventually broke through, and has never looked back. Today, there are 12 models on sale at big box stores, online and in your local hardware. Each comes with a limited warranty on parts. Because the company is committed to recyclable products designed to last a lifetime as part of a sustainable vision of the planet, Brome Bird Care items never need to be thrown out. Replacement parts are readily available and provided free of charge.

“Instead of spending money on advertising, we spend it on customers,” Coté explained. Four million feeders later, the policy obviously works.