Hercules Inc.'s Utah operations should not be hurt by an anticipated reduction in defense contracts that many experts feel will follow the end of the Reagan administration this year, said the company's chairman and chief executive officer, David S. Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth made the remarks during a press conference in conjunction with the company's dedication of a new $10 million waste water pretreatment plant at the Bacchus works.Hollingsworth said Hercules management fully expects there to be a shift in defense spending and noted that the company has been moving in a direction that it believes will allow it to continue operations at their current levels. He said the company has shifted its emphasis away from weapons system contracts and has focused on space-oriented projects including both military and commercial space vehicles.

"I believe, personnaly, that there will be severe restrictions on defense spending," Hollingsworth said. "How severe we don't know. We'll have to wait and see how things are shuffled.

"We have been involved mostly with space-oriented projects and I am optimistic that we (Hercules) will be okay."

Hollingsworth said the company has positioned itself to take advantage of the shift from strategic weapons to tactical systems and space technology. He said these areas might become growth areas as defense emphasises shift.

David E. Thompson, Bacchus works manager, agreed and said that while programs might change, he sees little fluctuation in the workforce levels at the Bacchus plant. He said the 4,100 employees might find themselves reassigned to different projects as a result of contract changes but he sees few indications that a layoff will occur or that there will be growth in employment levels.