I was there early in the day, and had the good fortune of speaking with him. He really seems to be a nice guy and easy to talk to.
We spoke for a time about sharpening. He said that sharpening is a critical skill that you need before you can really do anything else. He advocates a system similar to what I use (and learned from Christopher Schwarz). I mentioned to him that there are many people who advocate sharpening to a level much sharper than what you get with this method. I said it should be good enough for about 99% of what woodworkers really need. He added (if I may paraphrase) that the blade sharpened to that high of a level degrades so fast in woodworking tools that it doesn't take long before those super-sharp tools are at the same level of sharpness that tools sharpened using this method are. Interesting point.
Dictum sells planes from manufacturers other than Lie-Nielsen, so I asked him what he thought of having a company like Lee Valley for a competitor. His reply was that Lee Valley makes fine tools and having them in the business is good for all of woodworking, which in turn is good for Lie-Nielsen (more paraphrasing).
I can see his point. My first totally successful handtool was Lee Valley's bevel up jack plane. I had success with this tool and therefore sought out other hand tools as I needed them. One will see several Lie-Nielsen tools in my chest now, because Lee Valley showed me what quality new tools should be like. If I had instead an experience with a first tool from a cheap foreign manufacturer, I could very well have become frustrated thinking hand tools were too hard or no fun, and I never would have gone to Lie-Nielsen for anything.
Something else he said that I really liked was that he thinks a tool should look beautiful and feel good in your hand. It is obvious looking at his tool line that his company invests a lot of time and effort ensuring LN products reflect this.
I got to see a super-secret new product that he will have coming out later this summer. He didn't want it to get out, as to avoid someone making a cheap copy too early, so I won't tell you what it is. Except, that I want one. You probably will, too.
The main thing that I got out of today is that one should buy good quality tools, especially when starting out. I think I might even go so far as to say that someone new to woodworking may want to suck it up and pay for new LN tools, as they will last forever and they should work right out of the box. Vintage tools can be great (indeed I have some fine ones), but they will need some fettling to get working optimally. This is a skill in it's own, and you may want to start woodworking by learning woodworking rather than learning old tool rehabilitating. I would definitely recommend staying away from trying to save a few bucks buying cheap foreign tools thinking they are good enough for the level you are at. Give yourself a chance to succeed, as you will either eventually buy the LN tool anyway, or quit woodworking in frustration.