(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
Brunner and two campaign staff members spent the morning touring Horizon Screen Printing in Cape Girardeau with the business' owner Dru Reeves.
Reeves and Brunner had discussions over regulations on business and health care costs.
Brunner, a Republican and a St. Louis businessman, will face state Rep. Todd Akin and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman in the Republican primary. The winner will challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2012. He said his background in the manufacturing sector makes him a candidate that understands how to create jobs.
"I think a problem in America is that we have lost our manufacturing," Brunner said. "Those are the jobs people can depend on."
Until he resigned from his position of CEO in 2009, Brunner was the third generation of his family to lead Vi-Jon, a personal care products manufacturing company that distributes nationwide to major retailers. The company's manufacturing base is in St. Louis. Brunner remains associated with the company as an honorary chairman. Vi-Jon is the maker of popular hand sanitizer Germ-X.
Brunner said businesses need to be able to operate in an environment where they can make a profit and expand, and current government regulations don't allow for that. Regulations cost businesses too much money, he said.
"Those costs go into the cost of a product or services and have to be passed along. So what happens is we have a cost structure that other countries don't have, then jobs go overseas," Brunner said.
Brunner's campaign issued a statement last month regarding layoffs at Vi-Jon, saying the economy has forced companies to make difficult choices that show the need for new leadership in Washington. The human resources director for Vi-Jon Inc. later confirmed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the company is laying off employees but declined to say how many. Brunner is not involved in daily operations of the company.
Reeves said Horizon Screen Printing, while a successful business, is one that can't expand because of the costs of regulation and health care for his employees. Over the past few years, his health care costs have gone up around 35 percent, he said.
Another of Brunner's platforms is the repeal of estate taxes.
He used Horizon Screen Printing and family farms as examples.
"I mean, what happens when the owner dies and the family has to sell the farm in order to pay the taxes?" he asked.
"Let's have a tax situation there that we can handle," he said.
Brunner also wants to work toward a balanced budget, he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
430 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO